Worship Service for May 21, 2023

May 21, 2023 – Ascension Sunday (the Seventh Sunday of Easter)

A livestream of this service will take place on our YouTube channel on Sunday, May 21, 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 21.



Call to Worship

One: Let us be joyful before God!
All: We will sing praises to God’s holy name.

One: Let us lift up a song to the One who rides upon the clouds,
All: who protects orphans and widows, and gives the desolate a home.

One: Sing to God, all nations of the earth;
All: We will sing praises to the Lord, our God!

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

What a friend we have in Jesus” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 746). Words (1855) by Irish-Canadian poet Joseph M. Scriven (1819–1886). Music (1868; tune: “What a friend”) by American lawyer and composer Charles Crozat Converse (1832–1918). Words and music in the public domain.

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

God of Majesty and Mystery, we praise you as Lord of all, maker of the deepest dimensions and delicate details of all that is. You live beyond time and hold all our days in your hands. You still come to us in Jesus as Lord of Mercy, to walk with us wherever we are in the world. You claim us as beloved children, blessed by the Spirit in his name. Receive our prayers and praise this day, and inspire us to live as witnesses to your grace and goodness here and everywhere, now and always.

Lord Jesus Christ, you call us to carry the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness to the ends of the earth. Yet we often cannot find the words to tell others of our faith and hope. We fall silent when we could speak up. We try to act out your love, but we confess we usually act in our own best interests. Forgive us all the ways we fail to follow you.

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

While it is true that we have all fallen short in our call to follow Jesus, it is a greater truth that we are forgiven through his grace. Remember the Good News! In Jesus Christ our sin is forgiven. Be at peace with God, with yourself and with one another. 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

Lord, the light of your love is shining” also known as “Shine, Jesus, shine” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 376). Words and music (both 1987; tune: “Shine, Jesus, shine”) by English singer and composer Graham Kendrick (1950–). Words and music copyright © 1987 Make Way Music admin. Integrity’s Hosanna! Music; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.

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

(Practicing faith)

The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)


“Open my eyes, that I may see” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 500). Words and music (tune: “Open my eyes”) completed in 1895 by American composer and hymn-writer Clara H. Scott (1841–1897); both in the public domain.

Scripture Reading

Luke 24:44–53  <– 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.

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised, so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.[s] 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

The scripture reading is followed by:

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


Today in the gospel of Luke, Jesus reminds us about what our faith is about and the scriptures are about.

Luke 24 verses 44 to 46,
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.

Don’t you love that? I can read those verses again and again. The scriptures are given to us, so that we could fulfill them. Yes, Jesus fulfilled the promises of God. But we too are given God’s words, so that we could fulfill God’s plan for us.

The Scriptures we have been blessed with, encompassing the stories from the Old and New Testaments, serve as divine gifts from God. They possess the potential to open our minds, hearts, and spirits to the profound love of God. They are bestowed upon us to guide us in fulfilling the purpose of the lives we have been granted by God.

They are not given to us to judge others, so that we could say, “I read the Bible, and according to the Bible, everything you are doing is wrong. Nor is it given to us so that we destroy ourselves again and again, “I am doing everything wrong.”  The scriptures are not given us so that we could figure everything about God or us, “I read the Bible 100 times, I know all about God or all about our life”.  In my experience with faith, the more we delve into the Scriptures, the more we realize the limitations of our understanding of God and ourselves. The more we study and read the scripture, the more questions we find in our hearts. Those questions don’t destroy our love for God, but deepen our sense of awe, wonder, and humility.

We may pause and ask ourselves, “What did Jesus accomplish with his life by dying on the cross? What could he possibly achieve through such a seemingly tragic fate? It is important to note that Jesus did not seek to enrich his disciples with material wealth or worldly power. His purpose went far beyond the confines of temporal success.

According to the scripture we read today, this is what Jesus fulfilled with his life. Luke 24: 46–47,
Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

The scripture talks about something that is not important in our society. It talks about repentance and forgiveness. It may even sound very strange to many.  None of us goes to bed by saying, “What have I done today? Have I genuinely forgiven myself today? Have I extended forgiveness to others as much as forgiveness I have received it?”

I would like to believe the work of repentance and forgiveness is the work of relationship and the work of our human spirit. It is a spiritual undertaking that requires sincere introspection and a willingness to heal and restore connections. It is work that comes from within, stemming from the core of our beings.

In a world that often focuses on other aspects of life such as success, wealth and power, and in a world that often tells that you need more of this, more of that, buy one more of this, and get one more of that, then you will be happy, in a world that is busy asking, “Do you have this? Do you have as much as he has, and she has?”

The scripture invites us to consider the importance of repentance and forgiveness. It reminds us to cultivate a forgiving spirit and seek reconciliation. The scripture reminds us to ask ourselves, “What do I have in my heart today? Do I recognize the power of God given in me to love, accept and forgive? Do I recognize the name of Jesus Christ we are given today?  Have I truly accepted that I am forgiven, received, and loved by God?”

Musical Reflection

In the garden”. Words and music (1912) by American songwriter C. Austin Miles (1868–1946). This arrangement (2023) by Rachelle Risling. Words and music public domain. Arrangement copyright © 2023 Rachelle Risling; used by permission.


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

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

Eternal and ever-present God, we offer you these gifts in thanksgiving for the work of Christ in our lives. Bless them and us with the power of the Spirit, enlisting all our gifts for the work of reconciliation Christ has given us to do in the world you love. Amen.

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope

God of the generations in time and eternity, we turn to you in these quiet moments to offer you our thanks and our hopes for our lives. This morning we give you thanks for all those people who have shown us your face and taught us to follow you through the loving example of their living faith. We are grateful for their wisdom and courage which continue to inspire us. Thank you for our life together in your church and the saints we’ve known here. May the light of Christ shine through our lives, too, so that we offer light for the world you love as witnesses to your purposes.

Christ of Compassion in action in you, we receive our call to live with purpose. From you, we learn how to love those around us. With you, we find strength to face each new day. So today we offer our prayers for those facing challenges these days and seek your guidance to respond to their cries.

We pray for those brought to mind by news headlines this week for situations of violence and deprivation, danger and devastation……

We pray for families going through difficult times, for all who are sick or in sorrow, for all who are lonely or despairing… We pray for those agonizing over important decisions and responsibilities, for those in leadership roles and for those who care for the most vulnerable…

Creator, Christ and Spirit, move with us into the week ahead, Remind us each day to live according to your will and purpose in all our relationships for we want to bear witness to the love we met in Jesus. Amen.

Closing Hymn

Shall We Gather at the River?” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 797). Words and music (1864; tune: “Hanson Place”) by American minister, poet and gospel composer Robert Lowry (1826–1899).

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

“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 2023-05-26 00:05– Added Guildwood Senior Choir presents and Musical Reflection; corrected Choral Amen.