December 11, 2022 – Third Sunday of Advent – Joy
A livestream of this service will take place on our YouTube channel on Sunday, December 11, at 11:00 AM Eastern Standard Time. A video recording of the live stream will be available on our YouTube channel from 6:00 PM EST on Sunday, December 11.
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Call to Worship
Reader 1: We are people of joy.
Reader 2: God causes flowers to bloom in the desert; the wilderness is glad and breaks into song.
People: We open our eyes and we are surprised by joy in our lives!
Reader 1: The third candle of Advent reminds us that we are called to live as people of joy.
Reader 2: We light this candle, recalling moments of laughter, great beauty and deep faith.
(Light the candle of joy)
Reader 1: Let us pray:
People: Holy One, regardless of what happens in our lives or in our world, may we reflect the warmth and wonder of this flame. Make your church a place of joy and life in our community. Amen.
“Hope is a star” (Book of Praise 1997 Hymn 119). Words (1989) by English hymnwriter Brian A. Wren (1936–); music (1989; tune “Moon Beams”) by Joan Collier Fogg (1949–). Words and music © copyright 1989 Hope Publishing Co. Used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
Prayers of Approach and Confession, & Lord’s Prayer (sins)
Creator God, Maker of heaven and earth, with the sea and the stars, and everything in between, we praise you for the wonders of this world and beyond it. You set all creation in relationships both fruitful and fragile. You make deserts bloom and refresh the earth with seasonal rain. With your care for the vulnerable in our hearts, we praise you with joy song this day, Our God, who is the Source, Saviour and Spirit of life, perfect in unity, splendour and truth.
Gracious Judge, we look around us and we are not proud of what we see. People criticize each other and listen only to those who agree with them. We grumble and think the past holds the solutions, forgetting its inequities and iniquities. We are impatient for things to improve but we do not want to change our ways. Forgive us for sharing in the unhappy mood of our times, and renew in us the joy and gratitude we once knew for your gifts to us in Christ Jesus.
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
Receive the Good News in joy. With great mercy, God forgives what we have confessed and offers us new life in Christ. Rejoice that you can make a new beginning and share the joy in mercy and forgiveness with others.
Thanks be to God.
The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Guildwood Senior Choir Presents
“Advent Carol of Hope”. Words (1986) by American educator, lyricist and composer Don Besig (1936–) and American lyricist Nancy Price (1958–). Music (1986) by Don Besig. Words and music copyright © 1986 Harold Flammer Music, a division of Shawnee Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
Fun with the young at heart
A Welcome Moment
The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)
Christmas is a season to celebrate our relationship with our family, friends, and people we care about. I heard from many of you that this would be the first time you would meet your beloved family members in three years.
Christmas is also a season to deepen our relationship with Christ. During the Advent season, we are invited to pause and ask ourselves, “When was the last time we spent time with Jesus?” “When was the last time we sat down with God and listened to God?”
John the Baptist asks Jesus and all of us a question to ponder during this Advent season, and I am going to read Matthew 11 verse 3, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” It is a fundamental question of our faith. How do I know it is God? How do we know which is the will of God? How do we recognize the presence of God in our life?
Jesus responds to the question this way. I am going to read verse 3 to 6,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with a skin disease are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
I want to highlight verse 4, “Go and tell John what you hear and see.”
Jesus reminds them to hear what they hear and see what they see. Jesus invites us to hear what we need to hear and to see what we must see today. Perhaps Jesus invites us to listen and look at everyone and everything around us with more attention. Because, at times, we listen to others to prepare what we want to say next. Or Perhaps Jesus reminds us to listen and look at everyone, including ourselves, to understand and love more because at times, we are quick to listen to the voice of fear and hate.
Jesus emphasizes the importance of how we look and listen. I am going to read verses 7 and 8,
“7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What, then, did you go out to see? Someone[c] dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9 What, then, did you go out to see?
Jesus invites us to look beyond what people wear and dress outside…. This dress could mean expectation, fear, bias, and prejudice we put on each other…. We are so good at creating this invisible dress that separates one from another. Looking beyond what people wear does not mean we are to agree with everyone we meet nor to please everyone. But it is to find God’s grace in each situation. None of us can love everyone, none of us can please everyone, none of us can agree with everyone. Yes, some can disappoint us and others can hurt us. But we can learn about who God is and who we are from everyone we meet or people we pass even when things are messy and difficult.
And when we have courage to look around, we will find there are far more kind and caring people around us. Sometimes we pay too much attention to those giving us difficult times, we forget to look at people around us who care deeply about us.
How can he so kind? When his life is going through such a difficult time? How can she be so forgiving when she has not much going for her? How can they be so generous and giving when they are in such dire situation.
“There’s a voice in the wilderness crying”. Words by Anglo-Canadian minister James Lewis Milligan (1876–1961). Music (1938; tune: “Ascension”) by Anglo-Canadian organist and composer Henry Hugh Bancroft (1904–1988). Words public domain. Music copyright © 1938 Estate of Eldred Bancroft, admin. B. Burrows.
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, our Judge and our Joy, receive our gifts as seeds of gratitude for your gift to us in Christ Jesus. Bless these seeds with growth so that joy will blossom for people depleted by challenges, and places overwhelmed by scarce resources. Be their justice and their joy, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope
God of all creation, Every creature finds its way to rejoice in your presence. The desert blooms, a mountain top glistens, a stream makes music flowing over rocks. We give you thanks for the joy in nature which can lift our hearts. Thank you for the joy we can share with each other, for familiar songs on our lips, for greetings from old friends, for the excitement of children in this season, and for the promise born again in us as we anticipate Jesus’ birth.
God of the world, its wonders and its woes, we know there are many people and places who cannot rejoice this year, so we open our concerns for the world before you this day.
We remember those who have been silenced by oppressive regimes; by shocking tragedy; by bullying and threats; or by illness that takes away speech. Help us listen with care when words are not easy to find, and show us when and how to speak when others cannot.
We remember those who have grown weaker through months of isolation; through changing economic circumstances; through ageing or illness; through hunger and homelessness. Renew their strength and courage to engage life as they are able, and show us when and how to offer our support and encouragement.
We remember those whose days are filled with fear because of war and conflict on their streets; because of intimidation and discrimination; because the security they relied on has disappeared. Bring them protection and comfort in uncertain situations, and make us wise and generous neighbours who can offer relief.
We remember those whose lives seem empty because their cupboards are bare while others shop for the season; because someone precious is absent; because choices made have not been fulfilling. Fill empty lives with meaning and purpose. Show us how to share what we have in ways that are generous and dignified, and let joy dawn again where it has died.
God who makes all things new, renew our life together. Renew in us all the joy that comes from the assurance of your love for us in Christ Jesus. Amen.
“What Child is This?” (Book of Praise 1997 Hymn 161). Christmas carol from 1865 with words by English hymnwriter William Chatterton Dix (1837–1898) which was set in 1871 to the traditional English tune “Greensleeves”. Words and music public domain.
Changing the Light (the candle of joy)
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.
And may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. 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.
Copyright © 2022 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church
Last updated 2022-12-12 23:35 – Added Sermon text; added Guildwood Senior Choir presents and Musical meditation info.