Worship Service for January 8, 2023

JanUAry 8, 2023 – FIrst Sunday after The Epiphany

A livestream of this service will take place on our YouTube channel on Sunday, January 8, 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, January 8.

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Call to Worship

One: We are called to serve in the name of Jesus, God’s beloved Son,
All: God calls us by name because we are beloved.

One: God calls us to be a light to the nations.
All: We wait for God’s teaching and to learn justice.

One: We are witnesses to God’s goodness and grace who claims and loves us.
All: God’s name be praised!

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.

Opening Hymn

“You are Author” (Book of Praise 1997 Hymn 430) Original text Nepalese traditional, as taught by Fillipina-Danish minister and poet Elizabeth Padillo Olesen (sometimes Elisabeth and sometimes Oleson). English translation (1990) by The Iona Community (Scotland). Music probably European in origin (1990; tune “Sara Shriste”) as taught by Olesen. Arrangement (1990) The Iona Community (Scotland). English words copyright © 1990 The Iona Community (Scotland), admin. GIA Publications, Inc.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A. Music copyright © Samdan Publishers. Arrangement copyright © 1990 The Iona Community (Scotland), admin. GIA Publications, Inc.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.

Prayers of Approach and Confession, & Lord’s Prayer (sins)

Creator God, you formed the heavens and stretched them over us; you spread out the earth and made it fruitful. From your glory, you came to us in Jesus, your Son, to touch the earth with healing and hope. We praise you for all the gifts you have given us in Christ and in creation. In the strength of the Spirit, we come to renew our commitment to you, to serve in the name of Christ Jesus, who is one with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and always.

Merciful God, in baptism you promise us forgiveness and new life. We confess that we often prefer our old ways. We resist the new opportunities you set before us. We cling to harmful habits and nurse grudges, failing to forgive one another. Have mercy upon us, O God, and guide us to live with more grace and generosity through Christ our Lord.

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 of the gospel.  Before the world was made, we were chosen in Christ to be part of God’s family. God calls us to new life in Christ, so trust in God’s forgiveness and grace. Turn and follow Jesus in repentance and joy. Thanks be to God!

The Peace

The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Guildwood Senior Choir presents

As the Deer”. Words and music (1984) by American composer Martin J. Nystrom (1956–). This choral setting (1994) by American composer and editor John F. Wilson (1929–2014). Music copyright © 1984 and arrangement copyright © 1994 Maranatha! Music admin Capitol CMG; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.

Fun with the young at heart (children’s story)

(Practicing faith)

A Welcome Moment

The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)

Scripture Reading

Matthew 3: 13–17 <– this links to on-line text of the NRSV bible

Click here for additional scripture readings from today’s lectionary. Links courtesy of the Revised Common Lectionary, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.


Today in the gospel of Matthew, we hear another beautiful story where Jesus meets John the Baptist. The gospel of Matthew teaches us what happens when these two people meet each other with open hearts and minds in the name of God.

Matthew 3:13–17:
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw God’s Spirit descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from the heavens said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Today in the gospel of Matthew, we hear the story of the transformation that took place when John the Baptist met Jesus or when Jesus met John the Baptist. It is not relevant who came to whom because they were led to each other.

I believe they helped each other to deepen their faith and their awareness of God’s presence. We can clearly sense how John the Baptist was struggling with the feeling of not enough in the presence of Jesus. John said, “I am not good enough to tie your shoes, please you should baptize me. I am not good enough to baptize you.” Jesus invited John to baptize Jesus by going beyond his feelings of not being enough. Jesus empowered John to serve God beyond his struggles and questions. Jesus, too, met someone that day who recognized and welcomed him as who he was. We know how powerful it is when we are accepted and welcomed as who we are.

Through the humility of John the Baptist, and through the empowerment of Jesus, they helped each other and everyone around them to deepen their experience of God’s love. I love how the gospel of Matthew describes what they experienced when John baptized Jesus, “the heavens were opened, and they saw the spirit of God descending on Jesus and heard the voice of God, ‘This is my son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” I only wish I was there to witness what they saw, heard, and experienced that day. I wish I could see the face of Jesus and John. I wish I could see their body language, and the tone of their voices, I wish I could hear their conversations about life, God, calling, and faith. I wish I could hear the voice of God they heard on that day.

Yet, if we are honest with our own life and if we have courage to look beyond what we know today, we too may hear the voice of God and we too may experience the presence of God. Everyone we meet today can help us to deepen our experience of God. Everyone we meet can teach us something about God and our life. No, once again, it does not mean we have to like everyone we meet. But it means there is something we can learn from every person we meet and every situation we go through. People are people. Some are pleasant to be around, and others are just unpleasant. Some are happy, others are always demanding. There are those who make us feel included, accepted, and loved. Yet there are also those who make us feel unappreciated, depressed, and troubled.

However, my life has taught me that there are far more people who can help us to experience the presence of God and the holiness of God than those who stumble us into darkness. I believe we all have met people who made a huge difference in our life. It could be a Sunday school teacher who helped us to experience the love of Christ when we were little. It could be a math teacher we met in high school who helped us to be patient with ourselves. It could be a parent or a grandparent who showed their unconditional love to us when everyone else including ourselves did not accept us. It could be a friend, but it could be a stranger who showed kindness to us when we were having a bad day. Sometimes we don’t even realize the difference they made in our life until they are no longer with us.

That is our challenge. Our challenge is that we don’t always recognize people we meet.

May we remember to look at each person that is being sent by God? May we treasure them? May we try our best to see what God is trying to show us through this person that is being sent by God.

Musical Reflection

Ombra mai fu” (“Never was a shade”), the Largo by German composer George Frideric Handel (1685–1759), part of his opera “Xerxes” (1738). This arrangement anonymous from 1933. Music and arrangement in the public domain.


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


“Praise God from whom all blessings flow”(Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 830) Based on the tune “Old 100th” with words by English bishop and hymnwriter Thomas Ken (1637–1711). Words and music public domain.

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
praise him all creatures here below.
Praise him above, ye heavenly host;
praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”

Prayer of dedication

God, our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, we bring our gifts to you with grateful hearts. Use these gifts to spread your love in the world. And make us a blessing to all those whom we encounter, that the life of Christ lives in us. Amen.

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope

Loving God, you invite us to bring to God our doubts and fears, our joys and concerns, our petitions and our praise.

We thank you that you are with us in every circumstance, and that you walk with us through times of celebration and sorrow. This day, we open our hearts to you, knowing your Spirit prays in us with sighs too deep for words.

Where people are tired from work or weary with responsibility; where time and resources feel inadequate and costs overwhelming, send your Spirit with strength and renewal…

Where people are facing danger or living under duress; where people are persecuted for who they are or what they believe, send your Spirit with courage and comfort…

Where people have suffered the loss of love or purpose; and where love seems complicated and challenging, send your Spirit to bind up the broken-hearted…

Where people are ill and worry for their future; where people suffer pain or disability and long for healing; and where people face the limits to life and options have run out, send your Spirit with healing and hope…

Where people seek a reliable friend, a true comforter or wise adviser; where the lonely long for company to cheer them, and where isolation makes people doubt their value to others, send your Spirit of wisdom and companionship…

Where new life is beginning and hope dawns; where there is laughter and joy, healing and positive change, where there is good news to celebrate and opportunities open up for the year ahead, send your Spirit with rejoicing and gratitude…

Closing Hymn

“Put peace into each other’s hands” (Book of Praise 1997 Hymn 560). Words (1989) by Anglo-Dutch clergyman Fred Kaan (1929–2009). Music (tune: “St. Colomba”) ancient Irish hymn melody. Harmony by English composer and organist Eric Harding Thiman (1900–1975). Words copyright © 1989 Oxford University Press from “Planting Trees and Sowing Seeds”. Music public domain. Harmony copyright © United Reformed Church in the UK / Oxford University Press. Words and harmony used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.

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 grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (the risen Christ), the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you always. AMEN.

Choral Amen

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Click to listen to the Choral Amen at YouTube.
  • 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.


Prelude based on “All Glory, Laud and Honour”. Music (1603; tune: St. Theodulf) by German cantor and composer Melchior Teschner (1584–1635), originally composed for the hymn “Valet will ich dir geben”. This arrangement (2002) by American organist and composer Matthew H. Corl. Music public domain. Arrangement copyright © 2002 H.W. Gray Corporation; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.

Copyright © 2023 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church

Last updated 2023-01-10 22:50 – Added sermon text. Added info for Guildwood Senior Choir presents; Musical Reflection; and Postlude.