Worship Service for March 10, 2024

March 10, 2024 – Fourth Sunday in Lent

There is no livestream this week. 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 Lenten Liturgy.

One: Let us worship God, who has done great things.
All: We rejoice in our God, who made a way through the desert.

One: Let us worship God, who has caused streams of mercy to flow in the wasteland.
All: We are the people God has formed through Christ; we worship him, and we rejoice!

One: Let us worship God in spirit and in truth.
All: We praise God for the grace that has blessed us. Alleluia! We rejoice!

Opening Hymn

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 321). Words: original text (1680) by German theologian and hymn-writer Joachim Neander (1650–1680); English translation (1863) by English educator and hymn-writer Catherine Winkworth (1827–1878). Alternative English words used in the hymnbook by The Presbyterian Church in Canada. Music (first published 1665; tune “Lobe den Herren”) likely based on a German folk melody. Descant by New Zealand-born British organist and composer Craig Sellar Lang (1891–1971). German words, English translation, music and descant public domain. Alternative English words used in hymnbook copyright © 1997 The Presbyterian Church in Canada; used by permission.

Prayer of Approach

Holy God, in this time of worship, help us to perceive your presence, as near as breath, yet hidden. Help us to seek you as you are seeking us.  Speak your word of power, transform us through you Spirit.  In what we do, in what we say, we seek to give you glory.

Prayer of Confession

God who hates those things which destroy his creation and harm his creatures, who shows us through his prophets the way of peace with each other, and who in Jesus Christ the corner stone gave us the new foundation of love; save us from the self righteousness that leads us to rely on our own resources.  Save us from making ourselves immune from new ideas, new ways of doing things.  Give us the courage to get rid of those things which turn us away from your way through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord we pray and continue to pray as Christ taught his disciples:

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

In Christ we are forgiven.

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)

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

Isaiah 43: 18–25  <– these link to on-line texts of the NRSV bible
Philippians 3: 1–14

Click here for additional scripture readings from today’s lectionary. Links courtesy of the Revised Common Lectionary, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.


You know, the messages on some T shirts are pretty funny. The staff at the Stone Cottage on Kingston Road used to wear one that said “Lakes are over rated, the view from my deck includes Kingston Road”. It was in one of those roadhouse type restaurants like Walt’s Beanery where I first saw the shirt with this message, (one of the waiters was wearing it) “If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.”

I learned later that that phrase was first uttered by Jim Whittaker, the first American to reach the summit of Mt Everest, May 1, 1963.

Living on the edge.  I often think that the best part of a holiday is the last day of work or school before the holiday starts. For students and teachers, last Friday!  All the potential, all the possibility stretches out ahead of you.  That’s living on the edge, in anticipation and hope.

Living on the edge.  That’s the kind of living Isaiah is advocating in Isaiah 43.  Living in anticipation, in hope, living in expectancy of renewal, of new life.

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old.

My younger son asked me, “why study history?”  It was not his favourite subject. Some of my answers: Learn how we got to where we are today, why some things are the way they are, and learn from our mistakes. I remember this Cicero quote in my grade 12 history room: “To be ignorant of what has happened before you were born is to be ever a child, for what is the value of human life unless it is interwoven with past events through the records of history.”

Forget the past?
Just before Isaiah says don’t remember he reminds his audience about the dividing of the Red Sea, the Exodus.  Seems to me, that was the past.  Perhaps what God is saying through his prophet, Isaiah, is not forget the past, but rather don’t get stuck there.

The Israelites are in exile in Babylon.  Worship had taken on a certain flavour, the flavour of lament.  God was there in the past but God is not with us now.  God helped us before but God won’t help us now.

So God, through Isaiah, is saying, stop mournfully looking back and clinging to the past, stop thinking about the good old days and open your minds to the fact that new miraculous acts of God lie ahead of you.

You know how it is.  We often hearken back to good old days.  Church was so full chairs in the aisles.  All those kids in the Sunday school.  Or we think of our college years as the best of our lives and it has been all downhill since then.  But if our thinking about God is in past terms then we end up, as much of society has, with a past god.

William Temple, one time Archbishop of Canterbury, tells of his 1943 mission at Oxford.  As a quick test he asked a bible study group:  “Give me your first response to question: Does God know about nuclear fission?”  After a moment they laughed, because they realized that their instinctive response was “No” and they realized that they were thinking, “Because it was discovered after God’s time.”

“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”  Many of us don’t.  If our thinking about God is in past terms and we end up with a past god then we won’t perceive it.

So don’t hide in the closet of the past, God tells Isaiah, and through him the children of Israel.  Get out there on the edge.  Risk, stick your neck out for God and get ready for God to do some amazing new things.

The new stuff – the transformation, it is all for the better, ways in the wildernesses, rivers in deserts.

Even a small c conservative person like me who doesn’t really like change, who cried when she washed the last diaper of her youngest child, sad day this week, took the kid’s seat out of the car. I get really excited by this passage.  I know that I mess up, I make mistakes, I need new starts, I need to begin again.  The heart gets warped and starts to self-destruct.  I need to get rid of the garbage.  You know, like Jack Armstrong, the colour commentator for the Raptors says, “Get that garbage outta here”.  I need a second, and a third, and a fourth chance.

And, Isaiah tells us, God gives us just that.  New life comes from God who intrudes, who breaks up old destructive patterns, God who takes out the garbage.

I, I am the one, God tells us through Isaiah, who blots out your transgressions, and I will not remember your sins.  Corrie Ten Boom, author of that wonderful book The Hiding Place, talks of how God throws those mess ups into the lake and puts up a sign that says, “No Fishing”.

Get ready for God to do some amazing new things, to bring you out of any exile you may be in, to make a way in the wilderness, the lostness of your life, to provide life giving water in the deserts of your days.

Living on the edge in anticipation and hope.  That’s surely what the people were doing when they brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus, and, determined that Jesus could bring about change, they weren’t going to leave before they gave it every chance.  So they did something crazy.  They cut the hole in the roof and lowered their friend down.  And by their faith, by their living on the edge, the garbage was taken out, and their friend’s life was changed forever because God did a new thing, and now their friend could walk.

God’s continuous creating transforms the aridity of exile into lush growth and desert into garden, a sense of lostness into being found, of homelessness into being home, of being dead and finding life.

I love the story of the woman, faithful member of Christ’s body, the Church, who lived on the edge all her life, and when she was dying her family brought the minister in to her bedside. And she told the minister the hymns and readings she wanted for her funeral. But she had one request that was rather odd she wanted to be buried with a fork in her hand “because, Rev.”, she said, “you know all those church suppers where after the main course you are told to keep your fork, and when they tell you that you know something really good was coming, like lemon meringue pie, or carrot cake, or apple crisp. So I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder, ‘What’s with the fork?’  Then I want you to tell them: ‘Keep your fork… the best is yet to come.’

The Apostle Paul, he lived on the edge.  He had all sorts of new things in his life.  Were they better?  He thought so. Does Paul look back nostalgically on his former life, wishing he was back there?  “No”, he says, “I consider it all garbage compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. and this one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Living on the edge in anticipation and hope. Where is your edge?  Where is the edge for this congregation?  Using resources to serve the community in a new way?  Kingdom building work.

At the annual meeting last Wednesday, we received the first report of the Future Directions Committee since we gave them the mandate to move ahead on redeveloping our property to achieve the goals of financial sustainability and enhanced outreach to the community.  This committee has us living on the edge, daring to risk.  They are researching developers with whom we could work, reviewing the wish lists we as individuals and groups submitted about what we wanted to happen.  They have scheduled meetings with our city councillor, Paul Ainslie, and are always keeping an eye on any initiatives governments on all levels may be undertaking, and in which we could participate.

Living on the edge, living in anticipation, and in hope, for our lives as individuals and in our corporate life as a congregation.

Thus says the Lord: “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

And now to you, O God, who by the power at work within us is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we can think or imagine, to you be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. AMEN.


“One more step along the world I go” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 641). Words and music (both 1971; tune: “Southcote”) by English poet, songwriter and musician Sydney Carter (1915–2004). Words and music copyright © 1971 Stainer & Bell Ltd; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.


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

Musical Reflection

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

Lord Jesus, you challenge your followers to offer God commitment and gratitude. Receive our gifts as an expression of our commitment to you and your ministry. Use all that we can give to offer hope and healing in the world you love. Amen.

The Prayer of Thanksgiving and Hope

God, we pray for the world.  We thank you that you work to renew creation, that you seek not to judge but to save, not to destroy but to create.  We praise you that you call all nations to peace, and the people to justice.

With you we mourn that people in the Middle East, in Haiti, in Ukraine still are fearful, still are hungry.  We pray for people everywhere who are struggling for freedom.   We pray for people who are marginalized by economics, by health concerns, by social standards.  Speak to us and show us each our part to play in your mission of recreation, of causing new, good things to happen.

We pray for the church universal and for your people here at Guildwood. We pray for the Future Directions Committee, giving thanks for the wisdom and energy.  With whatever lies ahead, whatever new thing you have in mind, may your ministry continue through the work of your church.

We pray for those who are ill, for healing and new life.  We pray for those who mourn, for healing and new life.

Creative God, from whom new possibility springs, we call your name; make a way for us where there has been no way.  Quench the drought of our spirits with living water, that we may be revived and sing your praise.  Free us to welcome your newness of life; through Jesus Christ we pray. AMEN.

Closing Hymn

“O breath of life, come sweeping through us” (Book of Praise 1997, Hymn 384). Words (1920) by Anglo-Irish hymnwriter Bessie Porter Head (1850–1936); music (1914; tune “Spiritus Vitae”) by English composer Mary Jane Hammond (1878–1964). 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.


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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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