October 1, 2023 – Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
A livestream of this service will take place on our YouTube channel on Sunday, October 1, 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, October 1.
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
One: We come as guests invited to a table;
All: We come to celebrate with friends and neighbours.
One: Jesus Christ, our Friend and Saviour, invites us to gather:
All: We gather with his friends around the world.
One: Come and worship with hearts full of God’s praise and promise.
All: We worship God in gladness, for God’s faithfulness endures forever.
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.
“Great is thy faithfulness” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 324). Words (1923) by American songwriter Thomas Chisholm (1866–1960). Music (1923) by his friend, American composer William M. Runyan (1870–1957). Words and music in the public domain.
Prayers of Approach and Confession, & Lord’s Prayer (sins)
Gracious and Generous God,
You spread a banquet table and make room for all to come: friend and foe, healed and sick, hopeful and hopeless. You feed our desires with goodness and fill our longing with steadfast love. We worship you with grateful praise, together with all your people, here and everywhere, who break bread at your table and who share the cup. We celebrate our life together in Christ and offer our love and loyalty to you, O God, Source of all goodness, through Jesus Christ, who shares our flesh, and your Holy Spirit who prays within us.
God of mercy and mystery,
When you invite us to your table, you ask us to come with clean hands and open hearts. You ask us to come in peace, seeking reconciliation with you and with each other. In this silence, we hand over to you the broken relationships, disagreements and disappointments that keep us from living in your peace. Free us from the burdens we carry which we share in this silence. so that we may be a source of peace in this troubled world:
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 and believe this good news! Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old life has gone, new life has begun. Know that you are forgiven. Have the courage to forgive one another, and be at peace – with God, with your neighbor and with yourself.
Thanks be to God!
One: The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
All: And also with you.
Guildwood Choir Presents
Affirmation of Baptism: A Public Profession of Faith
Lorelee Sankarlal (Madisen and Samuel)
Renunciation and Affirmation (Questions)
i) To Lorelee, Madison and Samuel
ii) Congregation and friends,
One: Do you, as followers of Jesus Christ promise to support Lorelee, Madisen and Samuel by word and deeds, love and prayer, encourage them to follow the way of Christ and to be a faithful member of his Church?
All: We do.
The Apostle’s Creed (539; spoken by all)
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. AMEN.
Thanksgiving and Intercession
The righthand of fellowship (after the benediction and blessing)
(the Sunday School students may join their class)
“Seek ye first” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 625). Words and music (1971; tune: “Seek ye first”) by American musician Karen Lafferty (1948–). Words and music copyright © 1972 Maranatha! Music, distributed by Capitol Christian Music Group; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)
Matthew 21:23–32 <– this links to on-line text of the NRSV bible
23 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why, then, did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for all regard John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not,’ but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to the second and said the same, and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him, and even after you saw it you did not change your minds and believe him.
The scripture reading is followed by:
One: The Word of God.
People: Thanks be to God.
The text we read today follows the famous story of Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem on a donkey. Can you recall the first location Jesus visits in Jerusalem according to the gospel of Matthew? He makes his way to the temple. Once there, Jesus takes action, overturning the tables at the temple and loudly shouting, “My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a den of robbers.” Jesus calls out the priests, elders and leaders of the temple and basically denouncing them as thieves.
We don’t know exactly why Jesus had to leave Jerusalem and went to Bethany. It is possible Jesus, and his disciples were actually asked to leave Jerusalem after what Jesus had done at the temple, throwing and breaking the tables and yelling at people. It is also possible that Jesus was overwhelmed with anger and fatigue, in need of some time to recover.
Yet on the following day Jesus goes back to the city of Jerusalem and he goes back to the temple courts where Jesus had just confronted and rebuked the priests and elders the day before.
That’s the essence of his teachings. His actions speak louder than words. Returning to the temple courts in Jerusalem after overturning tables and rebuking others imparts significant lessons about faith. Because Jesus invites us to go along with him.
Jesus does not shy away from the temple, even though it has become the marketplace. Yes, he confronts the issues and the actions of the leaders of the temple, he even curses at them, but he goes back to the temple in Jerusalem. We know how challenging that is. Going back to the place of confrontation. Going back to the place of disappointment.
By returning to the temple in Jerusalem, what does Jesus want to teach us?
Perhaps Jesus demonstrates that despite all the wrongs committed by humans within the temple, the way they transformed religion and the temple into a profit-driven enterprise, God remains alive and still honors the covenant that made with Moses, Noah, Miriam, Sarah, Abraham, and each of us. And there are individuals who earnestly strive to live their lives in accordance with God’s grace and bless us each day. Perhaps Jesus extends an invitation to revisit the place of disappointment and rediscover what hasn’t been lost and what cannot and will not be lost. Even during the most disheartening moments, was God there for us? Or were we so busy with our emotions, did not allow ourselves to see the working hands of God in our situation.
Jesus returns to the temple in Jerusalem because that is where God was leading him. He continues what he has been doing. He resumes his teaching within the temple courts. How do you imagine the priests and elders would have received Jesus? Thank you for coming back again. We are so grateful to see you? I am sure they would look at each other and say, “Here comes trouble.” They questioned Jesus passive aggressively, “Who and what gave you this authority to teach?” They were so sure about Jesus. They knew that Jesus came from humble beginnings, raised by working-class parents, Joseph and Mary; he hadn’t attended Gamaliel’s school or studied under a renowned Rabbi. They knew Jesus associated with tax collectors, and people who were considered to be nobody in their society. In their minds, he emerged out of nowhere. Jesus was nobody.
Here Jesus could respond to this question of certainty and even ignorance from the priests and elders has raised? 1) He could have ignored the question. 2) He could have repeated what he did a day before. But here, Jesus chooses to listen and offer another question, “Did the baptism of John come from heaven or was it of human origin?”‘
The question Jesus asks leads the priests and elders to say, “We don’t know….” Here Jesus turns the question of certainty from the priests and elders into the question of uncertainty which has led everyone to ask more questions about who Jesus is.
The question of certainty often leads us to judgment “He is not good enough”, but the question of uncertainty leads us to more questions. “I don’t know. I need more time to think about it and I need to learn more about the situation and about him.” I often find that is how God comes to us and how the Spirit of God interacts with us. Rather than offering a quick answer to us but asking a question that leads us to another question. Sometimes we are so sure about a lot of things, about this person and our life…. Other times we are so sure about God and what God desires… Then, life happens, it makes us to rethink about everything. Does it? Our life has been and the stories in the Bible have been teaching us all along that God invites us to let go of our certainty…and embrace the uncertainty that comes with God’s blessings. Be honest with you that none of us likes uncertainty because it reminds us, we are not in full control. Yet it does remind us that God is working with us and until God is done, we are not done. What does God desire us to learn from our life? I believe that our life is not a problem to be solved, but the gift of divine and mystery to be lived. It is okay if we don’t hold every answer to every question, we have…. Our life is not about finding the right answers to our life but also about finding God, finding, and celebrating the kind of peace, purpose, forgiveness, friendship, and acceptance God offers to us.
I suppose that is what the future direction committee has done for us. The committee has given us a question or questions regarding our ministry tomorrow. Their recommendations are not their final answers leading us to a fixed and certain future but open questions that would lead us to more dialogues, prayers, and discernment for our ministry tomorrow.
None of us knows for sure what is coming tomorrow, but they were not afraid of asking the question of what we can do and they are not afraid of inviting all of us to participate in discerning what we can do as a congregation to serve God. One thing we can never afford doing as a congregation is to stop asking questions and listening to each other about what it means to be God’s people and what it means to serve God and our community and beyond. May God be with us and help us to listen to each other.
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
God, you are the giver of every good and perfect gift. Our gifts may not be perfect, but bless them with your Holy Spirit to spread your goodness in the world, for the sake of Christ, our living Lord.
The Sacrament of Communion
The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Fraction and Distribution
“O Lord my God / How great thou art” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 332). Words (1885) by Swedish poet Carl Boberg (1859–1940); English text by English missionary Stuart K. Hine (1899–1989). Music (tune: “O Store Gud”) based on a traditional Swedish folk melody; arrangement (1955) by Hine. English text and arrangement copyright © 1955, 1981 Manna Music, Inc.; 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 2023-10-03 23:15– Added Sermon text.