May 14, 2023 – Sixth Sunday of Easter
A livestream of this service will take place on our YouTube channel on Sunday, May 14, at 11:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time. A video recording of the live stream will be available on our YouTube channel from 6:00 PM EDT on Sunday, May 14.
Call to Worship
One: Let us see you this day, O God;
All: Come to us as light.
One: Let us hear you this day, O God;
All: Come to us as truth.
One: Let us sense your presence, O God;
All: Come to us as love.
One: Come and let us worship, God.
All: We have come to rejoice in God, our Saviour.
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.
“Love divine, all loves excelling” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 371). Words (1747) by English Methodist leader and hymnwriter Charles Wesley (1707–1788). Music (1844; tune: “Hyfrydol”) by Welsh composer Rowland Prichard (1811–1887). Words and music public domain.
Prayers of Approach and Confession, & Lord’s Prayer (sins)
God of life, we praise you this day for the gift of your creation as new life rises around us in flower beds and farmers’ fields, in the nests and burrows of your creatures. We praise you for the gift of our lives, and for all those people — from our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents to our teachers and coaches and good friends – who have encouraged us along the way. In this time of worship, encourage us in the present moments of our lives, challenging as they may seem. Refresh us with the new life you promise us in Christ Jesus in whose name we praise you as the Spirit prays within us.
God of love, we are grateful for the love you bless us with in our homes and families. Yet you know family life is not always easy. Our love for each another gets strained some days. Forgive us if we have taken our family for granted. Give us grace to repair relationships where strain is showing.
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
Hear the good news! Christ died for us; Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us. Believe the good news of the gospel. In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and set free to love more fully by God’s generous grace. Thanks be to God!
One: The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
All: And also with you.
Guildwood Senior Choir presents
“For the Beauty of the Earth”. Composed in 1978 by the English composer John Rutter (1945–), a setting of the earlier hymn of the same name with words by English hymnwriter Folliott Sandford Pierpoint (1835–1917) and music (tune: “Dix) by German composer Conrad Kocher (1786–1872). This setting words public domain, music copyright © 1980 Oxford University Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
Fun with the young at heart (children’s story)
The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)
“When love is found” (Book of Praise, Hymn 600). Words (1978) by English hymnwriter and pastor Brian A. Wren (1936–). Music (tune: “O Waly Waly”) English traditional. Arrangement by British composer and organist Noël Harwood Tredinnick (1949–). Words copyright © 1983 Hope Publishing Co; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A. Music public domain. Arrangement copyright © 1982 Hope Publishing Co; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
John 14: 1–21 (15–21) <– this links to on-line text of the NRSV bible
John 14: 1–21 (15–21)
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, but if you do not, then believe because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me, and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.
The scripture reading is followed by:
One: The Word of God.
People: Thanks be to God.
The text we read today from the Gospel of John, chapter 14, is a very small part of this long, intense, and difficult conversation with his disciples, which spans from chapter 14 to chapter 17. Throughout his ministry, Jesus maintained that he came to serve God and the people of God, and that he did not come to be served. Jesus made the intent and purpose of his ministry very clear: he did not come to gain more power, fame, wealth, or success and change the world with it. Instead, he came to carry the cross and serve his heavenly Father. Even when he gained popularity and fame, Jesus refused to accept any invitation to become a political ruler or a military warrior for the people of Israel. Jesus continued to choose to be a humble servant who would stand with the suffering and the marginalized.
Yet, that wasn’t enough for his disciples and followers. Many of his followers wanted Jesus to do more, to become their powerful king like King David, or a charismatic prophet like Elijah who could free them from their political oppression and bring back their prosperity and fortunes of the past. I don’t think we can blame anyone for wanting that. Neither did Jesus question the importance of political freedom or material wealth. However, that was not the goal that Jesus was pursuing. That was not the kind of good news Jesus wanted to bring. Jesus was serving the good news not just for the people of Israel, but for everyone. Jesus was seeking the good news not just for the people of God two thousand years ago, but for the people of God yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
In the gospel of John chapter 13, just before going into Jerusalem to complete his mission, Jesus reminds his disciples for one last time,
“Friends, my work is about to finish. What is waiting for me in Jerusalem is not what you want, and it is not going to end the way you want. This is where I end, but you will continue. Then in the gospel of John chapter 14, he continues “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.”
This is how Philip responds to Jesus (verse 8), “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” We continue to ask those questions, “Prove to me there is God.” “Show us our God.” “Explain who God is to me, so that I can understand…” When Jesus is asked, “How do we know everything is going to work out and how do you know God is in charge of our situation? Show us and prove to us who God is and what God is doing.”
This is how Jesus responds to Philip who demands for more proof and evidence:
11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, but if you do not, then believe because of the works themselves… 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.
Jesus does not give Philip or his disciples the proof, the evidence, the data and the definite realistic explanation they were searching for. Rather Jesus invites Philip and his disciples to deepen their love, faith and relationship with Jesus, “Trust me more, love me more, remember me more, depend on the Holy Spirit more, then you will know who God is.” And by telling them, “I am in you and you are in me,” Jesus invites his disciples to go deep down in the hearts and find God who is alive in our human hearts.
The people of the ancient Israel and the prophet Isaiah would have summarized the Gospel of John this way (Isaiah 26:3–4), “Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace, in peace because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.
We humans are very good at trying to find God by looking at what is happening outside, how successful we become, how well things go according to our plan and wishes…. Whenever a trouble or hardship comes in our ways, we are very quick to say God is not with us or we are being punished. But Jesus invites us to go deep inside of us and find God who has been with us always, who was there even before we were born.
In the verse 16 and 17, Jesus invites to listen and depend on the Holy Spirit,
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
The Holy Spirit helps us to remember what we need to remember, whom we need to remember and meet, the Holy Spirit helps us to discover the words, the precious memories of our loved ones we have treasured in our scared place. It helps us to recognize the melody of the song Jesus is singing in our heart today.
The Holy Spirit touches our heart…. It helps us to hear what we need to hear, what we need to hold onto….
As the Austrian poet, René Karl Wihelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke (known as Rainer Marie Rilke, 1875–1926), in a selection of letters published as “The Poet’s Guide to Life” (2005; Toronto Public Library link), writes:
This is finally true: deep on the inside everyone is like a church, and the walls are adorned with festive frescoes. In earliest childhood, when this magnificence is still exposed, it is too dark inside to see the images, and then, while the hall is gradually reached by light, adolescent foolishness and its false longings and thirsting shame set in and cover up wall after wall. Some people advance far into and through life without suspecting the original magnificence underneath the sober poverty. But blessed is he [she] who senses, finds, and secretly recovers it. He [She] presents himself [herself] with a gift. And he [she] will return home to himself [herself]. (pg 69–70)
It is the Holy Spirit that helps us to discover this sacred church within our heart that is built on the name of Jesus Christ. This scared church in our hearts will become a lighthouse when darkness surrounds us. It will become our home that will protect us on our stormy days.
“The Lord’s Prayer”. Traditional words. Music (1935) by American organist and composer Albert Hay Malotte (1895–1964). Music public domain in Canada; copyright © 1935, 1964 G. Schirmer, Inc., for EU and US.
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
“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 our Creator and Redeemer, you made us in love to share that love with neighbour and stranger as Jesus commanded. Take our gifts and make them tokens of your love we can share throughout our community and in the world you love, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
The Presentation of the Quilt and prayer shawls (The Crafts Club)
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope
God of homes and families, this Sunday we give you thanks for our families, especially remembering mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers. We are grateful for their love and attention, their hard work and the deep hope they have cherished for each one of us. We honour before you each one who has mothered us and now lives with you in your eternal care. And we ask your blessing on each one in our family who continues to care for us, cook for us and worry about us.
God of connections and compassion, today we thank you for our friends and relations, for the neighbours and fellow citizens who help to make our lives complete. We thank you for glad times shared, helping hands offered, commitments honoured. And we pray for those around us facing particular challenges this day:
God of courage and new possibility, today we pray for all those who feel life or love slipping through their fingers, for those who face the loss of good health, and for those who face the loss of good times. We pray for communities facing upheaval through natural disaster and human misjudgement, and for countries facing economic turbulence and environmental collapse.
God of forgiveness and renewal, today we pray for those caught up in relationships in need of repair and for all who seek peace and seek to make peace. We pray for families, churches, communities and countries caught up in division. Send your Spirit to bring peace to troubled lives. Amen.
“Spirit, Spirit of gentleness” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 399). Words and music (both 1975; tune “Spirit” or “Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness”) by American songwriter and composer James Keith Manley (1940–). Words and music copyright © 1975 James K. Manley; 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.
“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.
Copyright © 2023 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church
Last updated 2023-05-18 23:15 – Updated Musical Reflection info.