Worship Service for February 25, 2024

February 25, 2024 – Second Sunday in Lent

A livestream of this service will take place on our YouTube channel on Sunday, February 25, 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, February 25.

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.



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.

Call to Worship

From the the PSW&D Lent Liturgy.

One: On this second Sunday of Lent, we hear Jesus teaching about the suffering and rejection that he would endure on his way to the cross.
All: Like Peter, we resist this teaching. We prefer an easier way without struggle and suffering.

One: But Jesus does not hold back. He tells us that to become his followers we need to deny ourselves and take up our cross.
All: May God help us as we learn more of what it means to be friends and followers of Jesus.

Opening Hymn

I, the Lord of sea and sky” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 592). Words (1981) by American composer and Christian songwriter Daniel Laurent Schutte (1947–), based on Isaiah 6:8 and 1 Samuel 3:4. Music (1983; tune: “Here I am, Lord”) by Schutte with harmony by Michael Pope and John Weissrock. Words copyright © 1981 and music copyright © 1983 by Daniel L. Schutte and New Dawn Music; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.

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

Faithful God,
who fulfilled the promises made to the generations before us, Thank you for your grace, May everyone tell of your goodness and your grace. Generous God, we praise you for gracious presence with us throughout the years and for sending Jesus Christ to deliver us from all manner of injustices and inequalities. Your glorious Spirit fills this world and renews our hearts and visions so that We can see your image in every person irrespective of background, race, and ethnicity. Your love moves beyond divides and borders and works in us to end misunderstanding, racism, and injustice; creating communities of human flourishing. We praise you for reconciling your world and making us one in Christ.

Forgiving God,
we do not readily open our hearts to others who are different from us. We want to follow the example set by Jesus to love everyone, but we are scared of the unknown and scared that we might lose ourselves. We fail so often to share your unconditional love with others. Forgive us, Lord, and remind us of Jesus’ sacrificial love for us and all humanity. Strengthen us where we are weak, that we may faithfully respond to your call to love one another as you have loved us. Make us channels of your peace and people, who will build your kingdom of love and justice. Amen.

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

As descendants of Abraham we are covered by God’s grace that has set us free. Let us give God thanks that we have received salvation through the resurrection of Jesus. Go, live in peace, love the Lord, and love others. Amen.

All: Thanks be to God!

The Peace

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

The Life and Work of the Church (Announcements)

Guildwood Senior Choir Presents

“We will gather at the river”, based on the hymn “Shall We Gather at the River?” with words and music (1864; tune: “Hanson Place”) by American poet and composer Robert Lowry (1826–1899). This arrangement (2008) by American composer Mary McDonald (1956–). Words and music public domain. This arrangement copyright © 2008 Lorenz Publishing; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.

Fun with the Young at Heart (children’s story)

We sing verse 1 of “Jesus loves me this I know”.

Jesus loves me, this I know” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 373). Words (1859 or 1860) by American writer Anna Bartlett Warner (1827–1915). Revisions to v2 and v3 by Canadian Anglican priest David Rutherford McGuire (1929–1971). Music (1862; tune: “Jesus loves me”) by American musician William Batchelder Bradbury (1816–1868). Words, revisions and music in the public domain.

Scripture Readings

Genesis 17:1–7, 15–16  <– these link to on-line texts of the NRSV bible
Mark 8:31–38

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 17:1–7, 15–16

17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and you and will make you exceedingly numerous.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face, and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.

15 God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her and also give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”

Mark 8:31–38

31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes and be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

34 He called the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “If any wish to come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”


Genesis 17:1–2 “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and you and will make you exceedingly numerous.’”

Genesis chapter 17 tells the story of Abraham making a covenant with God and receiving a new name; Abram becomes Abraham, Sarai becomes Sarah.  Receiving a new name symbolizes something old has died and something new has begun.

A new name was given when Abraham was ninety-nine years old. We know time was measured differently in those days, so we are not certain of Abraham’s true age. However, by telling us he was 99 instead of 100, it indicates he was on the brink of becoming 100. The age of 99 suggests that Abraham had walked a long journey, he and Sarah had built something significant together, and Abraham was on the verge of something even greater, nearing completeness. The book of Genesis invites us to recognize this sacred and liminal space between 99 and 100 where the covenant is being made with God and where Abram experiences the transformation of becoming Abraham.

This was not the first time Abraham and Sarah encountered God in their lives. Their journey with God began many years ago. Genesis 12:1–3, “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.’”

Ever since that day, the day Abraham and Sarah left their home, their journey with God began. After twenty-four years of following God’s promise, this once-stranger God became their companion, partner, and friend. Their partnership began as they took the risk of leaving everything behind.

Their 24-year journey of following God led Abraham and Sarah to this liminal period of time and space where their relationship with God transformed. Or we could argue God used those 24 years to transform God’s relationship with Abraham and Sarah.

At the age of 99, in this sacred and liminal space and time, Abraham heard God who spoke, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.”

Their initial call to leave their home and journey the land God showed them 24 years ago is now transformed into an invitation to walk toward God and become whole.…

Every day God extends the invitation to us to deepen our awareness of who we are and whose we are. Each day Jesus Christ invites us to deepen our understanding of God’s love and grace in our lives. Yes, we have ups and downs, but we have received far more blessings than we could have imagined.

Please, join our Sunday worship service 11 am, either in person or virtually, to hear the full version of the sermon.

Commissioning of the Music Director, Brooks Gorst

The Narration of Steps

(by the clerk of session, Bruce Morrison)


The Introduction of Brooks Gorst

(by the chair of the search committee, Christianne James)

Questions to the Music Director

Questions to the congregation

Do you promise to discern and do what is right even when it disrupts our status quo, and especially when it asks something difficult of us for the sake of our neighhors and for the sake of God’s mission?
We will and we ask God to help us.

People of God, do you promise to support our music director, Brooks Gorst with your blessing and prayers?
We will, and we ask God to help us.

Prayer / Blessing


“We Praise you, O God” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 425). Original Dutch words anonymous. English translation (1902) by American hymnwriter Julia Buckley Cady Cory (1882–1963). Music (first published 1626; tune: “Kremser”) Netherlands folk song, arranged (1877) by Austrian composer and choir director Eduard Kremser (1838–1914). Words, translation, music, arrangement all public domain.


May we present our gifts to God in response to what we have received from God?

Musical Meditation

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.

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

Generous God, you have blessed our lives with many diverse gifts and peoples. We pause with grateful hearts to offer you gifts of money that you have provided for us. We also give to you our hands, our feet, our voices, our time, and our abilities. Use all that we are along with these gifts to spread your love throughout the world. We dedicate ourselves and all that we are to your work. We pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Closing Hymn

To God Be the Glory” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 350). Words (ca. 1872) by American poet and lyricist Fanny J. Crosby (1820–1915), alternate version. Music (ca. 1872; tune: “To God Be the Glory”) by American manufacturer, hymnwriter and philanthropist William Howard Doane (1832–1915). Original words and music public domain. Alternate version of the words used in the hymnal copyright © 1997 The Presbyterian Church in Canada; used by permission.

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.


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