February 20, 2022 – Seventh Sunday after Epiphany
A video version this virtual worship service will be available on our YouTube channel from 12:15 AM on February 20, 2022.
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Call to worship
One: Take delight in the Lord;
All: For God will give us the desires of our hearts.
One: Trust in the Lord;
All: For God will give us security and strength.
One: Come, let us commit our ways to the Lord.
All: Let us worship the One who is our refuge in any time of trouble.
Lighting of the Christ Candle
This is the Christ Candle. We light the candle to help us remember that Jesus Christ, the light of the world, is with us in every place and every time.
Prayers of Approach and Confession
Faithful God, You have gathered your people in faithfulness throughout many generations. You have offered your blessing to us through their examples, and led the Church through many changes and challenges by your Spirit. Draw near to us this day to guide us in these uncertain times. Root our faithfulness in the compassion and courage we meet in Jesus. Renew us through your steadfast love so that we may dare to trust our future to you. All praise and honour are yours, O God, Source, Saviour and Spirit of Life.
Gracious God, you test the mind and search the heart, so you know the thoughts and intentions we keep hidden. Trusting in your wisdom and mercy, we confess the ways we have failed to love one another, the times we looked the other way when someone needed help, and the ways our actions betrayed your goodness.
Forgive us for missing opportunities to share your love, and carrying grudges that keep us from offering the forgiveness we hope for. Renew us with your mercy to become more merciful to others we meet, in the example of Christ our Lord. Amen.
Declaration of Pardon
Hear and believe the good news: anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old life is gone, and new life has begun. Trust that you are forgiven by God’s generous love, and have the courage to forgive one another for Christ’s sake. Thanks be to God.
The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
A Lebanese-American Christian writer, Khalil Gibran wrote, “And God said, ‘Love your Enemy,’ and I obeyed him and loved myself.” (the Broken Wings) Yes, sometimes we can become the worst enemy of our own. Some of us are so good at belittling and undermining ourselves. Some of us are good at hurting ourselves, and we are good at denying the gift of God in us. Others of us are struggling with forgiving ourselves.
In the gospel of Luke, Jesus challenges us and invites us to love our enemy.
I am going to read verses from 27 to 31, 27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
I guess if we want to be serious about his invitation to love our enemy, we need to ask ourselves first, “Who is our enemy?” How does one become our enemy? How do we become someone’s enemy? Yes, sometimes we are the worst enemy of ourselves. Then, we should ask ourselves, “What happened to us? How did we allow ourselves to be our enemy? How did we end up saying and doing things to hurt ourselves and our relationship with others and with our creator God?
Here in this particular text, Jesus uses the term ‘enemy’ referring to those who hurt us, hate us, and harm us physically, emotionally, and spiritually, not those who have different faith or background.
Whoever our enemy is, Jesus invites us to love our enemy. Jesus invites us to respond to this enemy with love. I do not think Jesus is encouraging us to enable those who hate or hurt others. I do not think Jesus is saying it is okay to hurt, oppress, abuse, or harass others or ourselves. I believe Christ would encourage us to confront those who hurt, oppress, and abuse others with love.
Nonetheless, Jesus also invites us to love, bless, and pray for our enemy instead of revenge and retaliation. Perhaps because when we hate those who hate us, when we curse at those who curse at us when we hurt those who hurt us, we end up becoming what we hate the most. Or perhaps Jesus reminds us that our enemies do not need to remain our enemies. Perhaps Jesus reminds us that our true enemies are not them but something in all of us. We can only overcome our true enemy when we are willing to work together. I believe Our enemies are the source of those who hate, hurt, and harm the people of God. We have different names for our enemy: For some, poverty, greed, inequality, materialism, and discrimination is their enemy. For some, oppression, abuse and violence is their enemy. For others, fear, evil, jealousy, hate, and darkness is their enemy.
Christ invites us to open our eyes so that we can see these enemies we need to overcome by loving more.
I believe when Jesus said, “Love our enemies,” he wasn’t offering us a quick and easy answer to our struggles but a question to ponder. I believe the question Jesus is throwing at our hearts is, “What can I do?” “What can I do to become free?” How do I stop this hate in our hearts? How do I stop this enemy from being our enemy? How do I change it?
Once again, I do not think Jesus offers us an easy answer or a quick fix but invites us to pause and think about the ways we respond to our enemy.
Jesus suggests one way of responding to our enemy, “If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you”.
I am not sure what it means precisely to offer the other cheek to those who had already struck us or to offer our shirt to those who took away our coat in the first place. Whether that is an act of challenge or protest, or unconditional love…
Perhaps by turning the other cheek, we remind those who are hurting us that not only are they hurting us, but they are hurting Christ, and they are hurting themselves. Or perhaps by turning the other cheek, we tell them that they don’t have power over us. Or maybe it is about turning to Christ, perhaps it is about putting Christ between them and us.
I believe offering the other cheek or our shirt is not about providing our helplessness or hopelessness but offering Christ in our hearts. It is not about offering me but offering Christ in our hearts.
We know from Jesus and his ministry that he was not afraid of becoming friends with people who were considered to be their unholy enemies in society at the time; tax collectors, prostitutes, Samaritans, foreigners, and losers of the society. Jesus saw the presence of God from their public enemy. Jesus offered his other cheek, coat, or shirt to his enemy but offered his life and made them his friends.
He offered his prayers, love, and friendship to them and us.
Christ is with us. In Christ, there is no east or west. There is no I or you, he or she, we or they, but God alone. Christ is our friend, and he is not the enemy. May we allow Christ to work on relationships? May we allow Christ to work on our brokenness? May we allow Christ to work on our hurts, anger, and disappointment? May we allow Christ to rule our hearts and be our friend!
“Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine” (Book of Praise hymn 687). Words (1873) by American poet and composer Fanny Crosby (1820–1915). Music (1873; tune: “Assurance”) by American composer and organist Phoebe Knapp (1839–1908); this arrangement by Rachelle Risling. Words and music public domain; arrangement copyright © 2022 Rachelle Risling, used by permission. Performed on the keyboard by GCPC music director Rachelle Risling.
We remind everyone that we must continue to pay our bills; in the absence of being present at Sunday worship, you may sign up for pre-authorized remittance (PAR), donate online, or drop off your offering envelope in the mailbox at the church. Do not leave a cash donation unattended in the mailbox; instead, please call the office (416.261.4037) to ensure someone will be there to receive it. The building will be checked daily for mail and phone messages. If you are not comfortable leaving an envelope, you are welcome to contact the office (once again, 416.261.4037) and someone will pick up your offering.
Dedication of our Gifts
Prayer of dedication
God of generous love, we bring our gifts with grateful hearts, for we have received so much through your kindness.
Bless our gifts, and use them to touch lives in situations we cannot even imagine with your love. Make us a blessing in our community for the sake of Christ, our Friend and Saviour. Amen.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope & Lord’s Prayer (sins)
God of all life and each life: You created us and set us in relationship with each other in families and neighbourhoods, in communities and countries, in cultures and nations. Today we give you thanks for all the gifts of home life and community celebration which bring meaning and encouragement to our lives. Thank you for the blessings we know through the contributions of those who have gone before us. Help us offer what we can to sustain the wellbeing of our community and country, so that all who make it their home will find security and dignity: God of the whole human family, Hear our prayers for your world.
God of our faith and our future, there are so many pressures we face today, so many problems without simple solutions. Draw near to anyone who is struggling in economic difficulty, and all those burdened by challenges to their health and happiness. Guide us all through the changing face of the pandemic, and support all those who are finding the stress overwhelming. Ease any conflict in homes and workplaces and inspire solutions that express mutual respect and deeper understanding. Help us share with others the hope we find in your presence. God of the whole human family, Hear our prayers for your world.
God of mercy and forgiveness, You call us to live together in peace and unity. We pray for our neighbourhoods and the nations of this world. Where people are divided and bitterness turns into resentment, show us how to work for reconciliation. Where violence and fear turn neighbour against neighbour, or nation against nation. equip leaders to work for justice that will bring peace. Help us build a world where children enjoy a future filled with good health and happiness. God of the whole human family, Hear our prayers for your world.
God, our hope and our help, send your Spirit to equip our congregation with skill and resilience to weather the challenges the pandemic has brought for our life together. Strengthen friendships, new and old, and make us a source of encouragement and connection to each other. Help each one find a place and a purpose in our mission and ministry for it is as your children that we pray together in the words Jesus taught us:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever.
Changing the Light
Now, it is time to change the light. The light that was in one place can now be in every place and every time going with you wherever you go.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, Keep your hearts and minds In the knowledge and love of God, And of God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; And the blessing of God almighty, The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Remain with you always.
- “Go Now in Peace”. Words by American educator, lyricist and composer Don Besig (1936–) and American lyricist Nancy Price (1958–). Music by Don Besig. Words and music copyright © 1988 Harold Flammer Music, a division of Shawnee Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
- Performed by Rachelle Risling (keyboard) and the GCPC Senior Choir. Audio and video production by Rachelle Risling.
- Audio and video recording copyright © 2021 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church.
Copyright © 2022 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church
Last updated 2022-02-20 10:15 – First version.