Worship Service for March 26, 2023

March 26, 2023 – Fifth Sunday in Lent

A livestream of this service will take place on our YouTube channel on Sunday, March 26, 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, March 26.

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Call to Worship

L: Just as the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness,
P: the Spirit sends us into places of uncertainty where we confront our weakness and insecurities.

L: Here we are taught to pay attention to those calling out for care.
P: Jesus knew that God is revealed at unlikely times.

L: Like him, sometimes we arrive too late, when tragedy has already occurred:
P:  after the war has torn lives apart, after the earthquake has crumbled homes, after the drought has killed crops.

L: With Lazarus already in a tomb, Jesus cared for the grieving before turning his attention to his dead friend.
P: Let us pray for and support the medics as well as the injured, the aid workers as well as the homeless, The food providers as well as the hungry.

L: Tragedies may show us the worst of humanity, when greed and malice flourish.
P: Yet, we celebrate those who respond with love and compassion, bringing Christ to the places where death has brought devastation.       

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

“O Love that wilt not let me go” (Book of Praise 1997 Hymn 209). Words (1882) by Scottish minister and hymnwriter George Matheson (1842–1906). Music (1884; tune “St. Margaret”) by English composer Albert Lister Peace (1844–1912). Words and music in the public domain.

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

God in whom we live and move and have our being, we praise you. In the face of all that wearies us and worries us, your Word echoes across the centuries with hope. As we follow the footsteps of Jesus in this Lenten season, his Cross standing before us, we trust you are never far from our sorrows, walking with us; sharing our tears. You stand beside us when we don’t know which way to turn. In this time of worship, renew our trust in your resurrection promises. Draw near to us when we need you the most with love that will never let us go.

God who knows us through and through, we confess our memories can cause us to struggle with our faith. We remember difficult times and wonder where you were. We remember tragedies and ask how you could let them happen. We remember our own mistakes and wonder how you could love us. Forgive us when our memories turn us away from you. Remind us that your love never lets us go and that its power holds us and heals us in every desperate moment.

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

Jesus said, “Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Trust that peace and forgiveness are God’s gift to you this day, whatever burden you carry. Be renewed by the breath of the Holy Spirit that will bring you into each new day. Thanks be to God!

The Peace

One: The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
All: And also with you.

Guildwood Senior Choir presents

“I want Jesus to walk with me”. Traditional spiritual arranged (1999) by American composer Donald P. Moore (1946–). Music and words public domain. Arrangement copyright © 1999 Alfred Publishing Co., Inc.; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.

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

(Practicing faith)

A Welcome Moment

(Timothy) Tinco Tran and Timothy Nguy

The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)


As the Deer” (Book of Praise 1997 Hymn 27). Words and music (1984; tune: “As the deer”) by American composer Martin J. Nystrom (1956–). Words and music copyright © 1984 Maranatha! Music admin Capitol CMG; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.

Scripture Readings

Genesis 12: 1–4  <– these link to on-line text of the NRSV bible
Hebrews 11: 8–16

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

Genesis 12: 1–4

12 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

Hebrews 11: 8–16

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance, and he set out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith, with Sarah’s involvement, he received power of procreation, even though he was too old, because he considered[g] him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”

13 All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14 for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better homeland, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

The scripture reading is followed by:

One: These are the words of God for the people of God.
People: Thanks be to God.


If I were to summarize God’s actions in the story of Abraham, or in the book of Genesis and the Old Testament, it would be this: “Let’s take a walk.” “Let’s go for a walk with me.” God has invited Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and the Israelites to walk alongside God. Throughout our human history, God has invited the people of God to journey alongside God. Even today, Christ continues to invite us to walk with him. That is what led us to this faith community. At some points in our life, we have recognized the voice of Jesus Christ and his unconditional love for us.

When we do, when we accept the invitation of God to join God in traveling, we accept to be a stranger, foreigner, sojourner, pilgrim, and traveler for the rest of our life. Because the walk Jesus invites us to join him, it is not a 10-minute walk to Tim Hortons, but a lifelong journey, an inner journey to our hearts, and a spiritual walk to God eternal…

I would like to read Hebrews chapter 11: 13–16:
13 All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14 for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better homeland, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

“They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth.” That is the gift we receive when we follow Jesus. The gift of being a stranger and a foreigner on the earth. I know some will argue whether that is a gift or not, but indeed it is a gift. Not an easy gift but a powerful gift. The awareness of being a stranger empowers us not to take things for granted in our life.

It does not mean God is asking us to move to another town, province, or country. Some people never have to move away from the place they were born to another location for their entire lives. That too is the blessing of God.

God is not asking us to move to another town or to another country, but to open our eyes and look at our life and each other honestly. Many life events help us to remember we are strangers on the earth: when we are born into this world for the first time, … And there are days when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we find strangers…

To confess we are strangers and foreigners is to confess that our life is not just ours to own, but a gift for us to live and learn. We have more questions than answers. Struggles, confusion and uncertainty are the parts of the gift our life offers to us.

To confess we are strangers and foreigners is acknowledging we are still traveling, learning and growing. We are given a journey, faith and spiritual journey, a journey from fear to courage, from ignorance to knowledge, from indifference to love, from denial to acceptance…

To confess we are strangers and foreigners to let go of what is familiar to us and being willing to embrace what God has prepared for us to see. To confess we are strangers is to confess that Christ Jesus has died for me and all of us.

Ever since the first day of creation, God has not stopped inviting us, “Let’s take a walk.” “Let’s go for a walk.”

Whenever we find ourselves being a stranger, we need to tell ourselves it is because we are following God, we are taking a step toward wherever God is leading us. We are going to the place where God is leading us. God is showing us what our life is about and our capabilities. May we not be afraid to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations,
Which wait along the way to transform you.

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free,
To balance the gift of days which call you.

John O’Donohue (Irish poet, 1956–2008)


Musical Reflection


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

We place our gifts into your hands, O God. With the power of your Holy Spirit make them seeds of new life, springing up with hope and healing for weary souls. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope

God of the loving heart, thank you that in Christ, you call each of us by name and unite us in his body, the Church. Give us love enough to make a difference in your world, and trust enough to follow even when the way ahead us is a challenge.

God of peace and promise, in Christ you call us to love our enemies and to be peacemakers in the word you love. We pray today for people and places divided by ancient bitterness and current hostility,

O God of the bruised and broken, we are grateful that, in Christ, you have taken up the cross and know by heart the things that bring us suffering and pain. We pray today for all those in need of healing and comfort, whatever the source of their pain….

O God of the lonely and sorrowing, in Christ you faced the loss we know when loved ones die or when friends let us down. We remember before you those who grieve the loss of their beloved and those who face a lonely future….

We offer all that we are and all that we hope for through Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together as his people:

Closing Hymn

“One more step along the world I go” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 641). Words and music (both 1971; tune: “Southcote”) by English poet, songwriter and musician Sydney Carter (1915–2004). Words and music copyright © 1971 Stainer & Bell Ltd; 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

“The Lord bless you and keep you”. Words from the Aaronic Blessing. Music by English composer John Rutter (1945–). Words public domain. Music copyright © 1981, 2015 Oxford University Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.


Copyright © 2023 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church

Last updated 2023-03-31 14:35 – Added Sermon text.