September 10, 2023 – Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
A livestream of this service will take place on our YouTube channel on Sunday, September 10, 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, September 10.
Previous livestreams and other worship and musical content is available on our YouTube channel. You can also check out our entire worship services archive. Our SoundCloud channel has yet more music and worship content.
Call to Worship
Sing to the Lord a new song.
We will worship God, our Maker!
Let us praise God with song and dance,
For God is gracious and loving!
Let us bring God glory and honour,
For God deserves our praise.
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.
“Unto the hills around” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 81). Words (1877, 1909) by English nobleman John Campbell, the 9th Duke of Argyll (1845–1914), better known as the Marquess of Lorne, the Governor-General of Canada from 1878 to 1883. The words are a paraphrasing of Psalm 121. Music (1860; tune: “Sandon”) by Scottish composer Charles Henry Purday (1799–1885). Words and music in the public domain.
Prayers of Approach and Confession, & Lord’s Prayer (sins)
God of grace and glory, Your creative power is beyond imagining. Your love is wider than the whole universe; your mercy reached beyond the highest heavens; your wisdom lies deeper than the fathoms of the sea. Maker of all things, you became one of us in Jesus Christ, walking the roads we take each day. Through your Spirit, you are present with us in every time and place, to comfort and challenge us.
God of majesty and mercy, although Christ offers us peace, we confess we are a people divided. We harbour fears and jealousy which set neighbour against neighbour, nation against nation. We pursue profit and pleasures which harm creation and the wellbeing of less privileged peoples. Have mercy upon us, O God. Set us free from our old ways to serve you as agents of your reconciling love in Jesus Christ.
We pray in Jesus’ name, and continue to pray as he taught:
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
The Apostle Paul challenges us to lay aside actions and deeds that distance us from God and one another and to put on the armour of light.
Know that you are forgiven by God’s grace. So walk in God’s mercy. Be at peace with God, with yourself and with each other.
All: Thanks be to God!
One: The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
All: And also with you.
Guildwood Choir Presents
Fun with the young at heart (children’s story)
The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)
“With the Lord as my guide” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 574). Words and music (both 1977; tune: “Ridgecrest”) by American composer Jim Strathdee (1941–). Words and music copyright © 1977 Desert Flower Music; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
21 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me, for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any wish to come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
27 “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
15 “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If you are listened to, you have regained that one. 16 But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If that person refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
One: The Word of God.
People: Thanks be to God.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any wish to come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”Matthew 16:24
In the text, Jesus emphasizes three essential elements of faith – three fundamental practices of faith that shape our identity as a Christian:
- Denying ourselves
- Taking up our cross
- Following Jesus.
Being a Christian extends far beyond attending church on Sundays, acquiring membership, serving as a minister or elder or volunteer… It goes beyond getting acquainted with the contents of the Bible; it surpasses the act of sharing our resources with the church or those less fortunate than us. Being a Christian involves 1) denying ourselves, 2) taking up our cross and 3) following Jesus. During today’s sermon, we will contemplate these three core spiritual practices. We will try to do so in the next 15 minutes.
1) Denying ourselves
To deny in Greek is aparneomai; it means to disown, disregard and step away…. Denying ourselves is not about punishing ourselves by thinking about everything we have done wrong in the past again and again by saying, “What I have done? How could I be so stupid?”
But denying ourselves is about returning ourselves before God. It means we step away from the place of this know-it-alls to the place of humility. It means we step away from the place of “my life is my own, I can do whatever I want” to the place of “my life is a precious gift from God, I am sent here with a sacred purpose and task. What can I do today to celebrate God in my life?”
Denying ourselves is not about pretending we are not angry when we are upset. But it is going beyond our broken feelings by saying, “God, today I am deeply upset, and I ask that you would reveal to me the insights I need and guide me in my actions through these human feelings.” Denying ourselves is about remembering who we are in the eyes of God. It means we move away from the place of judgement to the place of acceptance.
Denying ourselves is not about ignoring or suppressing our human needs. It is about going beyond our met and unmet needs. Denying ourselves may begin when we begin to accept the difference between what I want and what I need. It may begin when we are ready to say, “That is enough. I have enough.” “I could use this, but she needs it more than me. He needs it more than me….” Denying ourselves is about opening our eyes to the profound love and blessings of God in our lives.
2) Carrying our cross
It is not just Jesus who is given a cross to carry, but each of us is given our own cross to bear. Every person born into this world comes with enough responsibilities, tasks, and burdens. There are some responsibilities, tasks, and burdens make us wonder if we are being punished. We cannot help but to ask, “Why me? Why is this happening to me?”
Some would tell us that we should run from it as far as we can. Yet, Jesus has taught us, reminded us, and invited to embrace and carry our cross.
I like the metaphor and image of wings when I think about a cross. Ex. “Wings” by Allie Michelle. To carry our cross is to embrace the wings we are given. Not to carry our cross is not to use our wings. At times, it can be tiring and painful to use our wings all the time, but it would also help us to soar free. Yes, at times it is difficult and painful to bear our cross, but it may also deepen our awareness of who we are in the eyes of God and what our life is about. The cross we carry may become the source of faith, courage, compassion and understanding.
I was listening to the story of the renowned Japanese Canadian architect, Raymond Moriyama, …. Between 1942 and 1949 he, like 22,000 other Japanese Canadians, was forcibly relocated to internment camps in British Columbia. Nothing beautiful about what he and the rest of his family had to endure in the camp. …Yet, it was during his time in the camp that he worked on his first architectural project—a treehouse. He wanted to build a safe place where he is not being watched by a RCMP officer all the time. In his later reflections, he regarded the treehouse as his personal university, a place of solace, contemplation, and learning.
That experience in the profoundly changed his identity and aspirations. For the remainder of his life, he was driven to construct spaces that fostered unity and safety among people. In his own words, he stated, “I replaced despair with ideas about what I could do as an architect to assist my community and contribute to Canada.” When I was listening to the story of Mr. Moriyama, I thought about a man who carried his cross and turned his cross into the source of blessings.
Carrying our cross does not mean we believe we hold answers to every challenge we face. I believe carrying our cross sounds like this, “I don’t have all the answers, I am not sure how much difference it could make, but there is something I can do, and I must do in any situation. Carrying our cross is about discerning what we can do and what we must do in whatever situation we face.
3) Following Jesus
The ultimate purpose of our faith is to follow Jesus. Jesus does not say, “Deny yourself, carry your cross and trust me, believe me, love me and understand me…? But Jesus invites us to follow him… and follow God. Our faith does not want us to settle with just knowing who God is or who Jesus is. Our faith does not want us to settle with just knowing we are loved by God. But our faith desires us to follow Jesus and follow God with all we are. To follow in Greek is akoloutheo. It means to imitate and accompany… To follow is to become a follower. Following Jesus involves much more than what we choose to do and practice today. Following Jesus is about becoming the people we were meant to be…. When we try to follow Jesus on our own, we quickly realize that we can only go so far with our own. Following Jesus involves listening, discerning, and asking right questions of Jesus.
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
Our offering will now be received.
“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
Gracious God, receive these gifts, offered in a spirit of generosity and humility. Bless and use them for the work that you long to do in the world you love for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope
God of love, Creator of heaven and earth, we are filled with gratitude for the blessings of this life. For making us in your image to love and care for one another, we give you thanks. For the gift of Christ, who redeems and guides us, and who gives us a pattern for everyday living, we praise you. For the work of the Spirit, who works in us, through us and beyond us, We praise you.
Hear us now as we pray for situations where your love and grace are sorely needed:
We pray for the church in this place and around the world, facing so many new challenges to respond to so many enduring needs…
We pray for this beautiful planet, the fragile home we share with all living things…
For children and youth who worry about the future of the planet and their place in that future…
For those who govern in this city/town/area and the nations of the world, that they may find the wisdom and courage to do justice for all in the decisions they make…
For the homeless and the hungry, for the unemployed and the uncertain, and for all who struggle with daily decisions for their families and their future…
For those who mourn, for those who face illness or isolation, and for all whose situations we carry on our hearts this day…
God with us, we thank you for your all-embracing love that touches all life and each life, and keeps us in communion with those dear to us who now live with you. AMEN.
“O Jesus, I have promised” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 569). Words (1869) by English Anglican priest and hymnwriter John Ernest Bode (1816–1874). Music (1881; tune: “Angels Story”) by English organist, composer, and choirmaster Arthur Henry Mann (1850–1929). Words and music in the public domain.
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.
As you go from this place, may God’s love hold you, May God’s light guide you, and may god’s liberation free you. Go out into the world reminded of God’s unwavering presence in your life, and the lives of others. May you be reminded of this in the eyes of each person you meet, a reminder of God’s love manifest in the world. 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 2023-09-12 23:25 – Added Sermon text.