March 21, 2021

A service of Lament and Hope (click here)

Passage: Psalm 22; Psalm 23; Psalm 24; Isaiah 43
Service Type:

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Salmon Arm, BC

Lent 5 March 21st, 2021


  • This Sunday we will be participating in a service I (Rev. Ena van Zoeren) wrote, to memorialize our first Sunday of Worship from isolation.  The vision for this service arose from a series of lectures I attended during study leave, which focused on the Church coming out of the Pandemic.  Hopefully the service will be meaningful to us all.
  • We direct your attention to a resource called Lenten Gardens.  It is found under the DEVOTIONS tab on the website.    It will take you to a garden to explore, with Adult Studies, Children’s stories, crafts for all ages, music, recipes and so much more.   The link will change weekly through Lent, daily during Holy Week.
  • We also remind you that this months Loonie Offering will be going to Shuswap Hospice Society. Please check the "Recent Posts" to the right of your screen, for more information.
  • Maundy Thursday:  we will repeat last year’s anointing with oil service from last year.
  • Good Friday:  This year we will focus on walking the stations of the cross.  There will be a sign up sheet (call Ena 250-253-0338 to register) where one-by-one bubble groups can come to the church and walk through the stations.  There will also be a video of John and Janet walking the stations that you can follow as you worship from home.  As always for those who prefer to read and mediate on the worship service there will be a full written script.  Peace and Blessings on you all as you journey.


March 21, 2021:  A service of Lament and Hope following a year of COVID restrictions

This weeks service has been video recorded in it's entirety (to view click here)

Prelude:  237 Come Mourn with me a while, played softly

Please add your voices to all the places where the words are in bold.

Lighting the Christ Candle

Let us come behold the light of God’s presence

O Lord we feel as if we are walking in the darkness.

I am come to remind you that faith sees best in the darkness.

O Lord we feel as if we are stumbling in the darkness

I am come to remind you that when you stumble, I will lift you up.

O Lord we feel as if we are walking alone in the darkness.

I am come to remind you that you never walk alone.  I am the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.

(The Christ Candle is Lit)

The light of God has come among us.

Thanks be to God


Dear people, it has been a little over a year since we learned of a new virus.  Little did we know how radically it would alter our lives.  Today we remember that day last year when did not come to the Sanctuary as usual, instead the worship service was printed on the website.  That day was a time of sorrow and tears, and the year that has followed has been a time of sorrow and tears; anxiety and frustration.

While each one of us has known times of turmoil, upheaval and grief in our lives before, this time it was very different.  Previously we had others who surrounded us and shared their strength with us, held us in prayer and encouraged our faltering steps of faith.  We relied on their strength when we were faltering.

This past year all of us have gone through the season of sorrow and tears at the same time.  All of us were faltering.  None of us knew where to turn.  Yet, all of us have tried to be there for each other.  And we have succeeded.

We are grateful for having the community with whom we have shared this journey.  The shared sorrow, confusion and pain have shown that our unity in Christ makes a difference.

It is however inescapable that this pandemic has changed everything for us, and that there will be no going back to “normal”.   This, radically altered life, has affected us all very deeply.  Everything changed seemingly overnight, and we consoled ourselves by saying, “this will be over in a month”.  It wasn’t.   It is now a year later, and this pandemic is still dominating the news and our lives.

Nothing has returned to normal and we are attempting to accept that it never again will.  When the doors of our buildings closed, they slammed and locked behind us and we are left with the image of Maxwell Smart walking through the tunnel and the echoing slamming of multiple doors behind him.

Everything changed.  Not temporarily but permanently.  We have coped, and we have adapted, but this year has taken a toll on all of us.  Mental health experts are talking about societal trauma.

Each one of us has reacted to that trauma in our own way.  Some have looked inward.  Some have experienced depression and overwhelming loneliness.  Some have entered a time of frenetic activity.  And yet here we are a year in, and although we can say we have learned to adjust to the “New Normal” we still long for the days of the past.  We have stumbled in the darkness as we have done our very best to walk in faith.

We have learned the stark reality that the only thing in our lives that has been steadfast is the presence, love and care of God, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

So today we set aside time to lament and to pray; to pray and to find hope.

We begin as we weep together.

Psalm 137

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars
    we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How can we sing the songs of the Lord
    while in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
    if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
    my highest joy. (NIV)

Come let us weep together.

A time of Lamenting

We come before God in prayer:

Creative love,
Enduring love,
Patient love,
Forgiving love,
Yours is the love
that reached to us
through suffering and pain.

We forget you O God, and your benefits.
We forget your love found us in darkness.
We forget that you suffered with us.

And so today we gather to remember, rehearse, remind and reassure ourselves that you are God and that your love and care has been constant from Creation, through every calamity that earth has known, and into eternity.

We weep together in faith.  Amen.

We remember, rehearse, are reminded and are reassured of the pain Jesus endured for us.

Psalm 22  (read by someone off camera)

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.[b]

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.[c]
In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth[d] is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce[e] my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you[f] I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!

A time of silence (soft background music:  1 verse 237 come mourn with me a while)

Prayer of Confession:

Why O God have you forsaken us?   Why have you left us alone, to struggle in isolation?

We fear the pestilence that surrounds us.
We fear the loneliness of our lives and long for the days of human contact.
We fear that we will never go back to what was; and we don’t know what is yet to be.

Refrain:  Quietly sing:  Lord listen to your children praying 449  words Hope Publishing, 1971, Music Hope Publishing 1973

Lord listen to your children praying
Lord send your Spirit in this place
Lord listen to your children praying
Send us love, send us power, send us grace.

  • Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
    My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.

We fear the pestilence that surrounds us.
We fear the loneliness of our lives and long for the days of human contact.
We fear that we will never go back to what was; and we don’t know what is yet to be.

Refrain:  Quietly sing:  Lord listen to your children praying 449

Lord listen to your children praying
Lord send your Spirit in this place
Lord listen to your children praying
Send us love, send us power, send us grace.

Help us O Lord to confess more than our fear.  Let us look to you, the light in the darkness and remember your goodness, rehearse the stories of your love, be reminded of your mercy and be reassured that your grace is with us to the ends of the earth.

Help us O Lord to be strong as we walk this journey, knowing that our strength comes from you.  Amen.

Refrain:  Quietly singing:  Lord have mercy (544 BP)

Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy
repeat 3 x

Words:  Public Domain  Tune:  James A. Kriewald 1985


A time of silence


We seek hope

We come before God in prayer:

Creative love,
Enduring love,
Patient love,
Forgiving love,
Yours is the love
that reached to us
through suffering and pain.

We are reminded that your love is before us, you call us to your banquet of love and your feast of mercy.

Remind us how you set the table, by clearing the pasture, removing the danger.  Remind us that we feast upon your abundance, now and forever.

Rehearse in us the story of your mercy, as you walk with us even in the darkest valley and the deepest shadows.

Remind us again that your mercy is from everlasting to everlasting.

Reassure us that although this COVID journey is long, and arduous, you walk with us every step of the way.

And we will remember your benefits now and forevermore.


We remember, rehearse, are reminded and are reassured that your mercy abounds all the days of our lives.

Psalm 23 (read by a voice off camera)

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

  • We pray for acceptance (The Serenity Prayer: Reinhold Neibuhr)

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him Forever and ever in the next.

We seek your Serenity, O God as we walk through these days.

Help us to accept what often seems as the unacceptable.
The restrictions that separate us from one another and reminds us of the things we have lost

Worship, family visits, hugging grandchildren
          Travel, festivals and gatherings, visiting with grandparents
Sharing meals, going to the nursing homes to pray
          Singing your praises with others
Ministry that brings meals, touch and in person visits

A time of silence to reflect on our own pain and grief (soft background music:  1 verse 237 come mourn with me a while)


A prayer for courage
We seek your Courage, O God as we walk through these days.

Give us the courage to change what we can

Ourselves and our thoughts
          The carefulness we bring to those outside our doors
Wearing masks, staying distant, washing our hands
All those things that remind us that our calling is to care for our neighbours and each other.

Grant us wisdom that we may know what is ours to change and to do, and what is yours to care for as you prepare us for the journey ahead.

We seek your Wisdom, O God as we walk through these days.

So let us in wisdom

Live and enjoy each day and each moment as a gift from you
          Accept the hardships as a path to peace, and an opportunity to show your love
Let us put aside selfishness and our own desires and trust that you will make all things right in your time.

May we trust in your wisdom and your mercy that we will be blessed in your all the days of our lives.  Amen



Prayers of Blessing:

Jesus reminds us:  Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

We pray O God for all those who are burdened at this time.  Those with mental illness, depression, who carry a burden too heavy to bear, and yet cannot find a way to put it down.

We have been reminded frequently to be kind, be calm and be safe, yet we think this only applies to how we treat others.  Remind us to be kind to ourselves.  Be calm with ourselves and be safe with ourselves and stop trying to be and to do more than you ask of us.

Jesus reminds us:  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

We pray for all those who mourn a friend or a family member who has died of the Covid 19 virus.  We pray for all those who could not come together and mourn, who have struggled alone to find an expression for their grief.  Be with them to comfort their pain and bear their burden.

And we pray for all who mourn the losses they know because of the pandemic.  Remind us that what we mourn is a real loss.  No loss is too small or trivial for you to care for us.

Jesus reminds us:  Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

We pray for all those who never count the cost to themselves and who merely go to work despite the danger.  WE applaud their conviction and their strength.  All those doctors and nurses, all those who work at any task in the hospitals and care centres.  Those who carry bodies to the morgues, those who bring ill people to the hospital and all those charged with bringing order into the world.  When they are weary at the end of the day remind them that your kingdom was created for them.

Jesus reminds us:  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Bless O God all those who seek to be a blessing, even as they wonder how to bring your blessing.  All those who pray into the silence for the needs they see around them.  All those who make calls to reassure friends, family or congregation members that they are remembered by someone who cares.  Bless all those who work to bring beauty into the world, through music, or art or thoughtful little gifts that are a reminder of your love.

Jesus reminds us:  Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Gather into your love all those who have given gifts of mercy in the darkness.  Who have welcomed another’s anger or sorrow and treated it with the gift of love and grace.  Bless all those who have listened and not judged, and shown us all the way to your heart.

Jesus reminds us:  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Be with everyone who has spoken and acted for the sake of peace.  Bless those who stand up for what is right, in race relationships and for the political and financial future of their homelands.  The medical staff of WHO and provincial and national medical officers who beg and who plead that we take care of ourselves and one another.  May all who speak and act be heard and may we all understand the message of peace and reconciliation that they speak.

And now O God may your blessing fall on each one of us, meeting us where we are.  For those with big faith and those with little faith.  Those with courage and those who hold onto fear.  Those who help their neighbour and those who need to be helped.  Bless us, each one, and remind us that we are all your precious children, created to fill your heart and to be your presence in the world.  Bless us all in the ministry we bring.


We go forth in faith

Let us pray:

Creative love,
Enduring love,
Patient love,
Forgiving love,
Yours is the love
that reached to us
through suffering and pain.

We are reminded that your creation is ours.  Remind us that your mercy is everlasting.  Reassure us that you have been, are and always will be the King of Glory, who knows the future as well as you know that past, and that your purposes will always prevail.  Amen


We remember, rehearse, remind and are reassured that your mercy abounds all the days of our lives.

Psalm 24 (read by a voice off camera)

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.[a]

They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.[b][c]

Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
he is the King of glory

Today we have remembered God’s goodness to us.  His constancy in faithfulness for us and his never-ending mercy.

Today we have rehearsed the Psalms that point to God’s presence in our pain, his provision for us in the dangerous journey and his glory and power for our future.

Today we have been reminded that God loves us with a never-ending love.

Today we have been reassured that God’s mercies are new every morning and that God holds the future even as he has held the past.

We do not yet know what that future is, or what it will hold.

Yet, we know that when all this is over we cannot go back through the door that was shut behind us in March of 2020.  Our God is a God of the future.

Our God is calling us into the new thing that he has prepared for us.

The prophet Isaiah reminds us of this truth-filled promise:

We remember, rehearse, remind and are reassured that your mercy abounds all the days of our lives.


Isaiah 43  (read by a voice off camera)

But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

16 This is what the Lord says—
he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters,
17 who drew out the chariots and horses,
the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.

We still have a way to go in this journey, but we will come to its end.  Like every generation of God’s people, we are called to a new thing.  We are urged to go forward in faith.

We walk to the end of this journey, with our hearts full of the memory of God’s provision in the past and our spirit ready for God’s provision for the future.  We walk looking for the new door that God will open.

The future is open and secure in God.  The only question is, what threshold God is asking us to step over as we walk into that future.


Not all is as it seems:  there is a glory hidden in everything waiting to be revealed to the eyes of those who believe beyond what seems inevitable who do not want to live in the status quo but in the promises of God.

Hold onto the vision as we turn towards and walk the more difficult path;  the path that is the journey of faith and renewal, and let us walk that path trusting that there is yet a greater glory still to be revealed.

Go in peace, Go in hope, Go in love.


  • Benediction Hymn: 674 In the Bulb there is a flower.


In the bulb there is a flower, in the seed an apple tree
in cocoons a hidden promise, butterflies will soon be free
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody
there’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me
From the past will come the future, what it holds a mystery
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.


In our end is our beginning, in out time, infinity
in our doubt there is believing, in our life, eternity
in our death a resurrection, at the last a victory
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.


Natalie Sleeth
Words:  1986 Hope Publishing, Music:  1986 Hope Publishing