Worship Service for January 22, 2023

January 22, 2023 – Third Sunday after Epiphany

A livestream of this service will take place on our YouTube channel on Sunday, January 22, 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 22.

graphic of a movie film reel

 Whenever you see this movie reel symbol, you can click on it to view a video segment on YouTube. If you experience any difficulties, please contact our webmaster.



“Ständchen” (“Serenade”), song 4 from the Schwanengesang (Swan Song), D 957, by Austrian composer Franz Schubert (1797–1828). Published posthumously. Music in the public domain.


Call to Worship

One: The Lord is our light and salvation.
All: We will not be afraid.

One: Behold the beauty of the Lord!
All: God will shelter us on any day of trouble and set us high upon a rock.

One: Let God’s people shout for joy!
All: For Christ calls us and claims us as his own.

One: Come and worship in unity and love; let us rejoice together!

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

Softly and Tenderly” (Book of Praise 1997 Hymn 640). Words and music (1880) by American composer Will Lamartine Thompson (1847–1909). Words and music public domain.

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

Gracious God, You shepherd us by still waters and guide us along paths of justice and peace. You send your comfort and courage to relieve our tears and fears in the shadows of death. We offer our praise in love and loyalty for you are always with us.

Merciful God, you call us to follow your way of compassion but too often we criticize each other. You call us to follow your way of peace but too often we remain divided. You call us to trust you but too often our fears and doubts overwhelm us. Forgive us, O God, and strengthen our commitment to follow your ways. Amen.

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

One: If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation… 
All: Thanks be to God!

The Peace

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

Guildwood Choir Presents

Let Us Break Bread Together” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 548). Words African-American spiritual. Music (tune: “Let Us Break Bread”) African-American spiritual. Arrangement (1971) by Canadian composer F. R. C. Clarke (1931–2009). Words and music in the public domain. Arrangement copyright © 1971 Anglican Church of Canada and United Church of Canada; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.

The Mission Moment

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

(Practicing faith)

The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)

Scripture Reading

Matthew 4: 12–23 <– this links to on-line text of the NRSV bible

The scripture reading is followed by:

One: The Word of God.
People: Thanks be to God.

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


In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus walks by the Sea of Galilee and meets two brothers, Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, and Jesus invites them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.” Immediately they leave their nets and follow him. Their life is completely changed by meeting and following Jesus.

The gospel of Matthew desires us to discover Jesus in our hearts who continues to invite us to follow him. If we close our eyes, we can hear Jesus calling us. “Follow me. I will help you to fulfill your life.”  Jesus does not say, “When you have time some Sundays, come to church and listen to my sermon.” Nor does Jesus promise us by telling us, “If you follow me, I will buy you whatever you ask.”  But Jesus does say, “Follow me now, wherever you are now…..whatever you are doing now….and I will help you to become a new person, a new being. I will help you to begin again. I will help you to find a new or deeper meaning, purpose, and truth.”

I think that summarizes what our Christian faith is about.

A German theologian, Paul Tillich in his book, “The New Being,” defines the central message of Christianity in this way, “Christianity is the message of the New Creation, the New Being, the New Reality which has appeared with the appearance of Jesus who for this reason and just for this reason, is called the Christ. For Christ, the Messiah, the selected and anointed one is He who brings the new state of things. The New Being is contrasted with the old being, the old state of things under existential estrangement. It is a reality “in which the self estrangement of our existence is overcome, a reality of reconciliation and reunion, of creativity, meaning, and hope.”

To follow Jesus is to become a new and deeper person in each and every day. To believe God is to become a new and deeper being in each and every day.

However, we do recognize that in 21st century, the idea of following is not appealing. We teach each other to be a leader not a follower. We teach each other to follow is to be helpless, to be powerless and to be less independent…We prefer to lead, not to follow.

In my opinion, we Christians have not done a good job of teaching what it means to follow Jesus. So let us clarify what it means or what it does not mean to follow God.

Following God does not mean we are to stop thinking or to think less but to follow God is to think more, to think deeper, to discern the thoughts of God… Following God is about not settling with a quick easy answer but about being willing to ask uncomfortable questions. Following God is not about being passive, but it is about having courage to do what is right and what brings God in our situation.

To follow God is to say ‘no’ to anything that makes us less than what we meant to be. To follow God is to grow beyond our petty and wounded ego. To follow God is to live our life beyond our plan, disappointment and failures.

So, Jesus continues to invite us to follow him, yet it is very difficult to embrace this invitation to follow Jesus and be a follower, because especially in this 21st century we are so used to being a customer and a client. We want to get what we pay for. That mantra is deeply rooted in our cultural fabric, it is very difficult to go beyond being a customer and become a follower, disciple, and worshipper.

There is something more. It is hard to accept the invitation of Jesus to be his followers because many of us have experienced this passive and inactive God in our life. (Where was God when my father was taken away? Where was God when my wife died? Where was God when this happened to my child?  If we want to truly accept and embrace the invitation to follow Christ, we have to reconcile with this God who did not answer our prayers the way we wanted, God who remained silent when we were crying, and God who did not give us what we asked for….

Perhaps in order for us to follow Christ, first we need to sit down with Christ who has been waiting so long to tell us, “I am sorry for what you had to go through, I am sorry I could not do more…. but I want you to know I was there all along. Could you give me another chance? This time I want you to see what I am seeing, this time I want you to know what I am doing. This time I want you to see how I express my love for you.

Perhaps in order for us to accept this invitation of Christ to follow him, we need to embrace and accept this possibility that perhaps God has been very actively all along, yet we have not recognized God always. Perhaps we may start following Jesus, when we are wiling to say, “Jesus, I don’t think I know you at all, but I am ready. Show me who you are and show me what you see from me.” Perhaps then, we begin to take a step toward Christ who has been waiting for us.

Musical Reflection

“Will you come and follow me” (Book of Praise 1997, hymn 634). Music (Scottish traditional; tune “Kelvingrove”), this arrangement by GCPC Music Director Rachelle Risling. Music public domain. Arrangement copyright © 2023 Rachelle Risling; used by permission.


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

Doxology 306

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow”(Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 306) Based on the tune “Old 100th” with words (1989) by English hymnwriter Brian A. Wren (1936–). Words copyright © 1989 Hope Publishing Co.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A. Music public domain.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
praise God all creatures high and low;
praise God in Jesus fully known,
Creator Word and Spirit One.

Prayer of dedication

God of the fishers who first followed Jesus, you have called us to follow and here we are. We offer what we have and ask you to bless our gifts. Give us the courage we need to invite others to join us in following Jesus, our friend and saviour. Amen.

The Sacrament of Communion

Invitation of the table

Communion Prayer / Prayer of Great Thanksgiving 

Fraction and Distribution

Closing Hymn

“Christ, you call us all to service” (Book of Praise 1997 Hymn 585). Words (1994) by American Presbyterian elder and hymnwriter Joy F. Patterson (1931–). Music (first published 1710:L tune: “In Babilone”) traditional Dutch melody. This arrangement by German-Dutch composer Julius Röntgen (1855–1932). Music and arrangement public domain. Words copyright © 1994 Hope Publishing Co.; 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

graphic of a movie film reel
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.


Two-part Invention No. 8, BWV 779, by German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). First published 1723. Music in the public domain.

Copyright © 2023 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church 

Last updated 2023-01-23 20:15 – Added Sermon text; added more music details.