November 13, 2022 – Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
A livestream of this service will take place on our YouTube channel on Sunday, November 13, at 11:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time. A video recording of the live stream will be available on our YouTube channel from 6 PM on Sunday, November 13.
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Introit – Choir
Call to Worship
One: Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
All: We will lift up joyous song and sing our praises.
One: Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it rejoice.
All: Let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord,
One: For God will come to judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
All: Let us join with all creation to praise the Lord! Let us worship God.
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.
“To show by touch and word” (Book of Praise 1997 Hymn 763). Words (1975) by Anglo-Dutch clergyman Fred Kaan (1929–2009). Music (1974; tune “Lodwick”) by Canadian composer Ron Klusmeier (1946–). Words copyright © 1975 Hope Publishing Co.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A. Music copyright © 1974 Ron Klusmeier, administered by Hope Publishing Co.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
Prayers of Approach and Confession, & Lord’s Prayer (sins)
God of creation and compassion, You hear the cries of your people. You know our fear and despair. In your great love, you assure us that you walk with us in Christ Jesus. In this time of worship, we long to see your new heaven and new earth break through, making your justice known and life fruitful for all your children. We praise you for the hope you offer us in Christ Jesus. We trust that you are at work in your church and in creation so all that is broken will be made new. Through our prayers and our praise, strengthen our trust in your promised future, O God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of all life.
God of promise and purpose, You set before us a vision of your new heaven and earth, yet we confess we easily cling to the past. We hold on to grudges and resentment. We grumble about change even when we see the need for it. We resist making room for those who have faced discrimination in our community. Forgive these old ways of thinking and acting. Create in us hearts made new by your mercy and love. We pray in Jesus’ name, and continue to pray as he taught:
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.
Declaration of Pardon
Friends, hear the good news! While the world judges in order to condemn, God judges with justice, equity and mercy. All things have been made new in Christ and our sin is forgiven. Thanks be to God that we can all make a new start.
Thanks be to God!
The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Fun with the young at heart (children’s story)
The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)
Guildwood Choir Presents
“We rise again”. Words and music (1984) by Canadian composer and actor Leon Dubinsky. Arrangement by Canadian choral director and musician Lydia Adams (1953–). Words and music copyright © 1985 Leon Dubinsky, arrangement copyright © 1996 Leon Dubinsky.
Today we are looking at the book of Isaiah. A little background will deepen our understanding of the text. The book of Isaiah can be divided into three sections: chapters 1–39 as the First Isaiah ,which is believed to have been written before the kingdom of Judah, the southern Israel, fell to Babylon and was forced to go into exile; chapters 40–55 as the Second Isaiah ,which is believed to have been composed during the exile; and chapters 56–66 as the Third Isaiah, which is believed to have been composed after they returned from their exile.
Today’s text comes from the third Isaiah. The people of Judah or Israel finally came home after spending 70 years of exile in Babylon as political prisoners. We can only imagine how excited they were. They dreamed about coming home to their home Israel, and they dreamed about having their own independence and freedom. They dreamed about worshipping God together in Jerusalem. But their excitement was short-lived. Everything they knew was destroyed, the city was ruined, and the temple was nowhere to be found. They had to rebuild from nothing…. They were overwhelmed, scared, and discouraged. They became hopeless, and you know what people do when they become hopeless…
These are the word of God that came to the people of Israel who faced the harsh reality. I am going to read from verse 17 to 18,
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating, for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy and its people as a delight.
Three times the Spirit of God reminds these hopeless and disappointed people of Israel that God is creating something new, a new Jerusalem, new heavens, and a new earth. Here, the book of Isaiah invites the suffering people of God 1) Don’t settle with what they see today. 2) Pay their full attention to God and what God is doing.
Here in the book of Isaiah, the same Spirit of God invites us or perhaps even challenges us to see what God sees through our situation. The word of God invites us to remember that our life is a process, a process of becoming; God is working on us.
A challenge is that we don’t always see that in our life. Yes, when we look back, we can see the work of God. But it is difficult to recognize God’s work and presence when things get tumultuous and messy. When things get messy, we cannot help but pay attention to all the noise and mess around us. We cannot help but pay attention to what is not working, what we don’t have enough.
But the book of Isaiah invites us to look at God and how God is shaping us today, no matter how messy our situation.
I know when things go wrong, we cannot help but to look for a reason to blame. We are quick to say, “Who is to blame for our struggles and failures?” However, one thing our Christian faith has taught us again and again is that the question we should ask is not “Who is to blame?” or “How come I don’t have this and that.” But “What am I, what are we learning from this human experience? What does God want us to see and learn from our life today?”
As I was meditating the text this week, I was thinking about many challenges that North American Christian churches face today such as declining membership, lack of young people, numbers of churches are closed and are being closed, and the list goes on.
I am saddened by the reality because too many good Christians are looking for a reason to blame, rather than looking for God’s grace and forgiveness in our situation. Too many churches are blaming their ministers of today or yesterday for not doing enough, too many ministers feel their congregations are not doing enough. Yes, there was a time when you had a good minister, and a good organist, everything was fine at the church. The challenges we face today in North America are far more complicated than that. It is not the case of we are not doing enough.
I am wondering if we are too caught up with our human success in the past and not being able to see how God is actively recreating us through our churches today. I wonder if the book of Isaiah we read today invites us to stop looking at what we don’t have anymore but pay our full attention to God first and God only. Pay full attention to how God is working through us today.
So during this week, I tried to do that, I tried not to think about all the problems I have heard from the Presbytery, and I tried not to think about what is not going well, and tried to ask, “How does God bless us through our North American churches?”
Today North American churches cannot offer the kind of blessing they had offered 50 or 60 years ago, when every church was packed 300 kids in the Sunday school. There was a time the church had so much power and influence in society. The secular society stopped and listened to church leaders. But today, we don’t have such power, influence, voice, wealth, or success. Many churches are just surviving… many are struggling to stay relevant…. Many churches in North America show our human struggles and weakness…
We see less of our human achievement and power. We witness our human struggles from many North American churches today. Yet, I believe the light of Jesus Christ still shines through our struggling churches. We can even argue the light of Christ is even brighter today. Because when darkness comes, we see how bright stars are. The cross that Jesus carried on Golgotha can be witnessed and seen through us more clearly.
I wonder if we as North American Christians, have been putting our own ambition, success, plan, and power before Jesus Christ and his cross for too long…. I wonder if we have forgotten where God is found and experienced in our human life. When did God ask us to sit on the seat of the glory? When did God ask us to be served? When did God ask us to be the ruler of the world?
*Short personal reflection:
Today we can clearly see Jesus Christ in our struggling churches. May we remember God is creating something new through our struggles.
May we present our gifts to God in response to what we have received from God?
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
Steadfast God, we enjoy your loving kindness day by day. We offer our gifts in gratitude for what we have received from your love. Bless our gifts and our lives so that your goodness will touch many lives in the name of Jesus Christ, our friend and saviour. Amen.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope
God of our past and our future, God of healing and hope, We come before you with grateful hearts trusting that you walk with us through all the times of our lives. We give you thanks for all the benefits we share in a nation with many resources and many opportunities. Yet we remember before you the many who do not have enough and cannot see their way forward. We remember before you those living with hunger and communities struggling with the impact of fire and storm, earthquake and famine.
We pray for all those working to relieve suffering in so many precious lives here and around the world.
God of these present times, We give you thanks that we live in a country of relative peace and good order, a place where injustices past and present become subjects of investigation. We pray for the work of healing and reconciliation engaging indigenous communities with other citizens in this land. Open hearts in mutual understanding and provide opportunities for common enterprise. We pray for those who have come to Canada, fleeing violence and deprivation in their homelands. Provide comfort and support through the generosity of neighbours and protect newcomers from misunderstanding and discrimination. Guide us to create a sense of home that all can share.
God of time beyond our imagining, We give you thanks for all we learn through scientific investigation that stretches us to reimagine your creation in its vast mystery and beauty. Thank you for increasing insight in medical science and the possibilities it adds to your gifts of hope and healing. We pray for all those who work in health care in this stressful time, for patients waiting for treatment and for those whose conditions find no relief. Bless them with your Spirit of courage and comfort. Thank you for increasing insight in climate science and the awareness it gives about the impact of our lives on the wellbeing of the earth. Create better agreement and cooperation in our communities to protect the earth for future generations by the ways we adapt our lifestyles now. Bless us all with your Spirit of courage and commitment. Amen.
“The church’s one foundation” (Book of Praise 1997 Hymn 479). Words (1866) by English Anglican priest and hymnwriter Samuel John Stone (1839–1900). Music (1864; tune: “Aurelia”) by English organist and composer Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810–1876). Words and music in the public domain.
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.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
- 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 2022-11-15 20:30 – Added Musical reflection info.