February 21, 2021 Lent 1
ST. ANDREW'S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
FEBRUARY 21 2021 LENT ONE
LIGHTING OF THE CHRIST CANDLE
- St. Andrew's welcomes you to this service of worship. May God bless and guide each one of us through this season of Lent, may His Spirit be upon us all.
- We thank Gloria for distributing packages of Lenten Resources among the congregation. As always we appreciate the ways Gloria keeps in touch and inspires us.
- We also direct your attention to a resource called The Lenten Gardens. They will be 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. It will change weekly during Lent and daily during Holy Week.
- For those of you looking for a downloadable book of Daily Meditations for Lent, check out this resource developed at St. Andrew’s Hall. You will find it at this link: St. Andrew’s Hall – 2021 Lenten Devotion
- "Build on a Strong Foundation": Please join us for the World Day of Prayer on March 5, 2021. This is a prayer movement that invites us to enrich our faith experience with the experience of Christians from other countries and cultures and to bring hope to women touched by injustice. Service written by the World Day of Prayer Committee of Vanuatu. Please register for this zoom event as soon as possible to: email@example.com. We look forward to having you join us.
- Don't forget to support this month's Loonie Offering to "The Coldest Night of the Year". For more info see the "Recent Posts" to the right of your screen.
- Thank you Rev. Shirley Cochrane for leading and preparing our worship today.
- The hymn titles have all been linked to YouTube videos there may be advertising but in most cases you just have to click on the "Skip Ad" link that appears in the video.
- Today John Hanna has included some Links for "Non Traditional" music videos of a few of the Hymns. So you may choose to listen to the familiar Hymns sung to a different tune if you wish.
CALL TO WORSHIP
We begin our journey through Lent.
We will seek awareness of God’s presence with us on the way.
We come to find light in the shadows and strength in our weakness.
We will join in praise as we remember God’s faithfulness.
We seek God’s mercy and truth step by step, day by day.
We will trust in God’s steadfast love. So let us worship
God with grateful hearts!
HYMN 193 Out of my bondage, sorrow and night
PRAYER OF ADORATION
Good and gracious God, Creator of all that is in the heavens and the earth,
we praise you for the beauty of the created world, and for the hope of life with you now and always. We praise you for your faithfulness and loving kindness
throughout all generations, for your promise of grace,
for your compassion and redemption revealed to us in Christ Jesus.
Receive our prayer and praise this day and teach us how to live by your love.
Source of mercy and wisdom,
We are thankful for your steady presence and steadfast love,
so we make our confession to you, with truth and humility.
UNISON PRAYER OF CONFESSION
O God, you made a covenant with us in faithfulness,
but we confess we are not always so faithful to you.
We grow tired and restless when things don’t go our way.
We lose patience with others.
We lack compassion for our neighbours in need,
and even forget to express our love for those closest to us.
Forgive us, gracious God.
Lead us in the way we should go.
Make us prisms of your love,
making rainbows of your light,
creating beauty and deepening hope wherever we go,
for the sake of Christ, our Lord. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Believe the good news. Jesus proclaimed that the kingdom of God has come near.
Trust in his forgiving love for you, and forgive one another in his name.
May the peace of Christ abide with you this day
HYMN 358 There is a Redeemer
Psalm 25: 1-10
In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.
2 I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3 No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.
4 Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
6 Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, Lord, are good.
8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
9 He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
1 Peter 3: 18-22
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive,[a] he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.[b] It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
Mark 1: 9-15
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[a] by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Holy God, send us your Spirit to calm our thoughts and prepare our hearts and minds to hear your Word. Through your Word, teach us to see you more clearly and love you more deeply day by day.
Water ! And God said “ let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water So God… separated the water from under the expanse from the water above it …..And God said ‘ Let the water under the sky be gathered in one place and let dry ground appear” ( Genesis 1: 6 & 9 )
Have you noticed that from the very beginning water has held a high place in our world. Without water there is no life. Yet water can also be very destructive .
When mankind’s disregard of God and wickedness ruled, God said enough and in pain God opened the heavens and sent water to cover the earth - meant to wipe out his beloved creation with the exception of one family and chosen living creatures
When God redeemed the thousands of the Hebrew people from the enslavement of the Egyptians, it was thorough the waters of the Red Sea they were led when the waters parted to create a path to safety.
When Jonah disobeyed the commission of God to take his instructions to the people of Nineveh and attempted to run and hide, he recognized his mistake and begged the crew of the ship to throw him overboard. They did ! But God did not let Jonah drown – Jonah was swallowed by a great fish – returned to land. Jonah learned this lesson – rather to his dismay about the forgiveness of God when even heathen folks repented.
Today as we begin, once again, our journey through Lent, we are confronted with water - not a flood – not a pathway – not as a tool for learning – but as a blessing
Our gospel reading plants us beside the water of the River Jorden. John the Baptist has been drawing huge crowds of folks with a startling message – that they must repent of their sins – or face the judgement of God ! He declares he himself is not of any importance – he is neither a prophet nor the messiah - he is just a voice. The message is ---Now is the time to prepare for the coming of God’s kingdom “ I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt 3:11) John ‘s baptismal rite was one of preparation. No one was too bad to be included in God’s kingdom - nor was anyone so good they didn’t need baptism. God’s covenant with his chosen people is given in grace and mercy. John is very specific about the rite not just being simply a means of saying sorry – it is a sign of real moral change . Forgiveness comes with one having a change of heart not a handful of water over the head.
Then one day Jesus stands right in front of John ! What ! John is confused ! Mark is rather sparse on his description of Jesus Baptism . But here is Jesus – totally without sin –confirming that through this act, he identifies with all the sinful men and women as a human being. He understands he is the proxy for the sinners of the world. Yet his real baptism will come not in the washing by water, but in the shape of the cross.
It’s a powerful gospel – this gospel. Jesus is visually anointed with the Holy Spirit Conceived by the Holy Spirit, Jesus is commissioned to his ministry – endowed with the everlasting power of the Holy Spirit . The heavenly veil that separates the people from God’s presence is torn apart The path to relationship with the Triune God is opened forever.
Baptism and the giving of the power of the Holy Spirit does not insulate one from suffering , doubts and misery. The Holy Spirit – immediately following the Jordan river baptism leads Jesus into the desert. For forty days he wrestles with temptation and doubt, hunger and exhaustion. Mark does not tell us the outcome of the testing, but it is clear that he understands it as the decisive encounter with Satan that will under-gird and empower his ministry for the next three years
Baptism is a significant event in the life of every Christian, one we often take it for granted This first Sunday in Lent gives us an opportunity to remember our baptism - to discover or re-discover some things we may have forgotten, overlooked or cast aside.
In the eight years and some that I have been with this church family of St Andrew’s I don’t think we have witnessed a Baptism. If like me, you were baptized as an infant, there is likely not much in your memory bank about it. If you were baptized as an adult , it is the hope of the church that it remains a turning point in your life where you made a commit to growing in faith.
From our denominational Book of Worship, I have taken a few sentences to highlight this important sacrament It states:
There is nothing we can do to earn, deserve, or purchase baptism. It is first of all a sign that God, in Christ, has done all that is necessary to redeem us. The mystery of faith is that God's act of self-giving is offered to us freely, long before we begin to recognize, want, or understand it.
Baptism is initiation into the household of God; Our age at baptism is not significant. Whether we are baptized as infants or adults, we are, called to grow and mature into full stature with Christ. We are children of the covenant.
In baptism we are united with Christ in his death and resurrection. The power of sin has been broken and the power of death is overcome. In Christ we are cleansed, forgiven, healed, reborn. The signs of death and life represented in the water of baptism are to be remembered and celebrated with thanksgiving until, at the time of our own death, the promises are fully realized and we enter life beyond death.
In baptism we are joined to the body of Christ, the church. Baptism is the beginning of a new life in the world where ethical, social, and political decisions are made in the light of our response to God in Christ.
God in Christ gave water as the sign or symbol of baptism. Water is a sign of birth, life, death, cleansing, refreshment. …the sign of God's new creation. ( Book of Common Worship ; page 117)
Now Baptism is not a solitary thing No one is a Christian on their own. We belong to the body of Christ - - the Church. That is why we publicly baptise people in church. It is a Rite administered only once and should not be repeated. God calls us his beloved sons and daughters and we belong to him – hence adoption is once and for always Sadly too many baptized people fall by the wayside thinking that we can continue to live the way we did before baptism. The false idea they have is that baptism is the end of it instead of only the beginning. Baptism in its self does not save you. You must accept Christ in the pardon of your sins and go forward as his witness in the church and community
Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated that when Christ calls a person, he calls him or her to die. That means to die to self and live for Christ… not an easy thing to do.
Like John at the Jordan called people to repentance , we too are called through the Baptismal promises we make. These words don’t pop up in our everyday liturgy or conversation so perhaps today is a good time to hear them once again
Here are the words from our modern day sacramental promises;
Trusting in the gracious mercy of God
who has been faithful to us in all generations,
do you turn away from sin,
renounce all evil powers in the world
which rebel against God
or oppose God's rule of justice and love?
I renounce them.
Do you renounce the ways of sin which separate you from the love of God?
I renounce them.
Do you turn to Jesus Christ, accepting him as Lord and Saviour,
trusting in his grace and love?
Do you desire, in dependence on the Holy Spirit,
to mature as a Christian in the church,
to seek the guidance of Christ as you listen for his Word,
to celebrate his death and life at the table he provides,
and to engage in his mission to the world?
Here is the Easter hope to which we are called to prepare and look forward to during these dark times of Lenten wilderness and of deepening pandemic restrictions and fears. We are Easter People – people of light and hope and faith in the Resurrection, of New Life. Let us hold that light and hope deep within our hearts, All to give glory and honour to God, in whose Holy Spirit we gain all the authority and power to become – and be Christ-like. Thanks be to God. Amen
HYMN 515 Out of deep, unordered water
The season of Lent takes us on a journey with Jesus to prepare us for the day he gave his life for our sake on the Cross. Consider what he has given as you offer your gifts to God in his name.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
God of courage and compassion, we bring our gifts to you in Jesus’ name. This year we need both his courage and compassion for ourselves. Receive our thanks with these gifts and bless them so that they may bring hope to others in these challenging times. Amen.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
As we enter into this holy season, Lord God, we give you thanks for your promise of new life that sustains us, especially as these months of pandemic stretch on.
Heavenly Father, grant us courage, faith, and patience in these uncertain times that we are facing. We thank You that You will never leave us nor forsake us. We thank You for Your Holy Spirit Who lives in us and gives us the ability to be patient and to trust in You no matter what circumstances we face. Draw us close to You that we might come through this pandemic stronger and with a greater appreciation of life and how precious it is. May we be the people You want us to be, the people You have called us to be. In the midst of our anxiety, may we rest in the shadow of Your wings, for You are our refuge and strength.
We thank you:
For tiny signs of hope, even in a bleak landscape or on challenging day;
For glimpses of beauty in a smile or a ray of sunshine;
For scientific achievements that ease suffering in this time of pandemic;
For the people who support and serve others in times of weakness or loss;
For the chance to recover from mistakes, to begin again.
Lord of life, sustain us with your presence
and give us patience and perseverance as we await the future with you.
Trusting your promise of new life, it is with hope that we pray:
For anyone hurt by harsh words or careless deeds;
(Hold a silence)
For those known to us who are carrying heavy burdens;
(Hold a silence)
For all who are seeking employment or worry about their businesses;
(Hold a silence)
We thank you and pray for the faithful employees at Grocery stores ,local markets and restaurants. We also lift to you the truckers who bring us the groceries and other requirements for health and home – may they travel in safety in these months of harsh driving conditions and uncertain border crossings
(Hold a silence)
For troubled places in our world and those who work for reconciliation and understanding;
(Hold a silence)
For our congregation and all churches seeking new ways to minister in these months of distancing from each other;
(Hold a silence)
For ourselves and those lives closely connected to ours;
(Hold a silence)
Renew our health and hope for the future you will bring us
through the courage and compassion of Christ our Lord,
as we pray together the words he taught us:
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
HYMN 670 Amazing Grace
May the Lord bless you and keep you
May the Lord make his face shine upon you
And be gracious unto you
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you
and give you peace.
May the grace of God, the love of Jesus and the comfort of the Holy Spirit be yours today and ever more. Amen
SUNG BLESSING 209 O Love that will not let me go