February 28, 2021

God’s Covenant is eternal (click here)

Passage: Genesis 17: 1-7; Psalm 22: 23-31
Service Type:

February 28:  Lent 2

Welcome to worship at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Salmon Arm.  We are delighted that you have joined us online. 


  • We also 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.
  • The World Day of Prayer Service will be via Zoom, on March 5, please check "Recent Posts" (to the right of your screen) for registration information.
  • March's Loonie Offering will be going to the Shuswap Hospice Society. I will add more info in the "Recent Posts" next week.
  • We thank Rev. Ena van Zoeren for leading us in worship today. May this service be a blessings to us all, even as it brings glory to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Lighting the Christ Candle

The light of Christ has come among us.
Thanks be to God


God of Sarah and Abraham,
long ago you embraced your people in covenant
and promised them your blessing.

Through long years and many trials they trusted your promise.
In your time, you fulfilled the promise, and honoured their faithful dedication to you.
Strengthen us in faith,
that, with your disciples of every age,
we may proclaim your deliverance in Jesus Christ
to generations yet unborn

HYMNwe lay our broken world in sorrow at your feet



God, you loved the world so much

that you embraced it in all its suffering

in your beloved Son Jesus Christ,

who sought the way of the cross

that he might offer us the way back to you.

We thank you for this space apart,

in the weeks that are to come –

space to become more receptive

to the incredible promise of new life:

life to challenge all that is deathly in our world,

life to challenge all that is dull in our hearts.

Help us to use this time,

not just in prayer at worship,

but in the thoughtfulness

in which we go about these coming days,

listening for your voice in all we do,

as you challenge the habits that restrict us

and the assumptions that close our minds.

Help us also to be aware of others

who at this time are examining themselves,

whether from religious duty

or because they have reached a turning point,

in a career, or in a relationship, or in a crisis.

Give us an ear that listens

that we may find the words to sustain

and the openness to learn

through Jesus Christ,

our deliverance and our hope. Amen.


We are people, chosen from our generations

to be Witnesses to the great Covenant

that exists between the Creator and His Creation.

God created atoms and universe—

yet we are content to live in our own little worlds.

God delights in colour and diversity;

yet we are blind and deaf to the grandeur of God that surrounds us.


     Eternal God of all Creation, 

            Your people ask pardon for their failure to recognize You

            in the glory of all that You have created:

   Lord have mercy


We are people, chosen from our generations

to be Witnesses to the great Covenant

that exists between Humanity and its Creator.

Age upon age has seen the great things

that God does for His faithful people—

and we allow ourselves to be told

that God is a spent force in our world.

Age upon age, we have seen that God remembers His people—

            yet we live as though God has forgotten us.

 Lord have mercy


We are people chosen from our generations

to be Witnesses to the great Covenant of Love

between God and humanity,

sealed in the blood of God's beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus laid down His life to reconcile human beings with the Father,

 yet we are embarrassed to speak of sacrifice—

            let alone to live it.

Jesus calls His disciples to follow Him—

as their Way, their Truth, their Life,

  yet we remain convinced that our way is better— 

            and blame God when we get lost...

 Lord have mercy


We are people chosen from our generations

to be Witnesses to the power

of God's creative and renewing Spirit alive in the world.

The Spirit showers upon us the gifts of God's love—

yet we see them as our own gifts and talents.

The Spirit calls forth fruit from our lives;

yet we see them as our own achievements and accomplishments.

In claiming them as our own,

            we forget from whom they come 

            and on whom we depend for these graces—and even for life itself   Lord have mercy

We are people chosen from our generations

to be Witnesses to God and to Jesus—

witnesses here and even to the ends of the earth.

We are baptized in water—

to witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

We are baptized in the Spirit—

confirmed in our Faith to proclaim

the Good News of God's love and salvation to all people.


 God of truth and justice,

            we have not lived up to the great gifts

            that you have given to us.

            Have mercy on your people gathered before you;

            strengthen us in the certainty

            of your forgiveness and enduring love.

            Teach us how to respond to this greatest of gifts

            in lives full of grace,

            bearing fruit in our own love and forgiveness,

            witnessing always to your glory and your graciousness.

            We ask this in the name of your son and our Saviour,

            Jesus Christ.  Amen.


Hymn   Kyrie Eleison

(The Greek will come first, wait and then the English words come)


The peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  And also with you.

Share a sign of peace with those nearby, or ask the Spirit to bring his peace to another you may know, or to a world situation.


HYMN  O Jesus I have promised



Listen, hear and remember, these portions of the revelation of God’s word for us.

Genesis 17: 1-7

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty[a]; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

3 Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram[b]; your name will be Abraham,[c] for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.


Psalm 22:  23-31

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[a] 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!



Sermon:  God’s Covenant is eternal

Contracts are all around us.  Bring your car into the shop and they print out what is essentially a contract saying that this is the work that will be done and then you will pay this amount of money.  Once signed, the shop has an obligation to do the work.  If they discover more work needs to be done then they must phone you to tell you and get additional permission to continue.

It’s a very simple contract really.  Party A will do the work at specified cost and Party B will pay specified amount at completion.

And then there are other contracts that are far more involved, and are drawn up with the help of lawyers.   Party A is responsible for a whole list of things.  Party B is responsible for a whole list of things.  One or both of the parties are constrained by a another whole list of things that can make the contract null and void.

Even when entered into with two willing and honest parties, human frailties can often mean that obligations go unmet and taboos are mistakenly engaged.

Then there are contracts that are entered with the idea that are intended to be broken.  Party A puts in restrictions and loopholes that they can cancel the contract on a whim, or commit fraud against Party B without penalty.

Sometimes you have to wonder if contracts are worth the paper on which they are written.

Today we read the account of God making an arrangement with Abraham.  Essentially an agreement that God will bless Abraham and Abraham will leave his home to follow God with trust and with faith.

It looks like a contract, but actually it is more than that.  This is a covenant.

Essentially the covenant is one of fidelity from God to Abraham.  And of fidelity from Abraham to God.  That isn’t always what happened.

Today we read from Genesis an account where God re-affirmed this Covenant.  A lot has happened in the intervening years.

Many times Abraham has lost faith.  He has lied.  He has manipulated.  He has tried in his own power to make God’s promises come about.

And yet, the Covenant is not broken.  God comes to assure Abraham of this fact.  You will have a son and you will name him Isaac.  The promise starts to have more details than it had in the beginning.

Through out, all of the encounters between God and Abraham, the Covenant is reaffirmed and there are more details.  Over and over again we hear God use the phrase, “as for me, I will.“

We see this Covenant become more and more one sided.  Not that Abraham doesn’t have a part, but that God does not hold Abraham’s lapses against him and yet always affirms that he, God will be faithful.

We see this, not just in the case of Abraham, but through all history.

The first time was after the flood.

As for me, says God, I promise that I will never again destroy the whole earth with a flood.  There is no expectation that humans will be able or willing to live a sin-free life.  Just God’s promise is there.  The sign and seal of that promise is a rainbow, that comes out with the rain as a reminder to God to keep his promise and honour his Covenant.

Whereas contracts are more like business arrangements, God’s covenant is a family relationship.  There is love.  There is belonging.  There is knowledge on God’s part that the people he loves will not always be faithful and it does not alter God’s commitment to the Covenant.

In fact human disobedience simply causes God to double down.

Year after year, decade after decade God reassures Abraham about the promise.  Despite discouragement, doubt and trying to take matters into his own hands, some how Abraham does hold out with a little bit of faith.  And because Abraham’s faith is counted as righteousness God continues to bring his blessing to all people through Abraham.

And through Isaac. Yet in Isaac’s life we already start to see the ways in which God is providing for more grace in the expanding Covenant.  When God requires that Abraham bring him an offering, and promises to provide the offering, we see Abraham go to the mountain with wood for the sacrifice in confidence.

When Abraham does not readily see the offering he prepares to give back to God the treasured gift of God’s love.

How much trust did that take?

How much faith did that take?

Was there fear?

Did Abraham wonder if giving Isaac back to God would engender another 50 years of childlessness?

Regardless of how many times Abraham failed God, argued with God, lied, cheated and manipulated, all it takes for God to remember the Covenant is a simple act of faith.  And then, God provides the sacrifice, and a ram appears tangled in the bushes.

Generation after generation we see the blessing of the Covenant play out, despite the wandering feet and wavering faith of the people.  God continues to provide his wisdom and his blessing in daily life as he provides for them in birth and death, marriage and family, injustice and oppression.

Joseph was sent ahead to save his family from famine.

Moses was sent to lead all the people out of oppression.

When the people continued to sin, the priests were there to help the them bring sin offerings and sacrifices.  And God counts it as faith and as righteousness and keeps his promises.

Is there a pattern emerging here?

Does God work harder on blessing the people, even as the people do not always keep their side of the covenant?

In Leviticus God declares “I shall be your God and you shall be my people,” then, even as he lists all the reasons why the people are not behaving as his people, he affirms his part in the relationship.  Yes, he does say that he is displeased with them, but the promise does not waver.   “I will be your God and you will be my people.”

And in it all, God keeps planning for more ways to provide for the people, more ways to be faithful in his promises made in the Covenant.

Ultimately God substitutes his own faithfulness for our lack of faithfulness as he gives us salvation in Jesus.

Yet it really is what God has been doing all along.  Bringing his faithfulness into our relationships as he redeems us from the flood, the plagues, the oppression, the famine and the lostness of our wandering in sin.

Again, and again God proves that the Covenant cannot be broken, that he will not ever leave his people without his protection, love and grace.  Ultimately God himself dies and pays the penalty for sin in the person of Jesus.  Again, the promise and the blessing remain on all people.  Now God sees the rainbow and the cross and the empty tomb as reminders of his deep love for us.  “I will be your God and you shall be my people.”

Do you ever wonder, does God really need these reminders?  Are they for God’s benefit or for ours?

We look at the symbols that remind us of our faith and we see how deeply, how intimately God has held to his Covenant.

God’s love is endless.

God’s mercy never comes to an end.

God’s love does not have conditions (other than that we remember the gift he gives in Jesus) and no matter how often we forget or how far we stray, it only take a breath and a heartbeat for God’s blessing to come flooding back into our lives.

Abraham was not perfect.  But he was the first individual for whom God reverses human alienation and provides mercy based solely on trust and faith of the individual.  We look at Abraham’s life and see so much that makes us wonder and yet God looks at Abraham and sees only his faith.

That refrain of love and blessing echoes through the generations.

Take for example David, about as flawed as anyone can be.  Yet he repents, he learns, he accepts God’s guidance.  And what does God call him?  “A man after my own heart. “

As for me:  I shall be your God and you shall be my people.

Have you noticed that in this Covenant God keeps both sides of the promise?

I shall be your God, therefore I will see you, love you, care for you, guide you and have mercy on you because you are my people.

Our place as God’s people is not dependent upon us, and what we do.  It is solely born of God’s love.

Time after time God reminds us of that promise and yet he never coerces us to obey.

I shall be your God and you shall be my people.  This is my Covenant and I will bless you.

Despite human flaws and failings, God continues to show his grace.

Abraham is counted as man of faith because he responded in faith in spite of flaws and failings.  David was a man after God’s own heart in spite of his flaws and failings.  You and I are God’s beloved children in spite of our flaws and failings.

In this Covenant God does all the work.  When we reach out to God we are counted among the righteous and we only have to believe to reap the benefits of his love and grace.

The commentators in the Spiritual Formation Study Bible say that God’s Covenant was given to an individual--Abraham and extended to include all of Abraham’s dysfunctional family and that in every generation God reminds us of his Covenant.

In Jesus, God brings us all into Abraham’s family, establishing and preserving his Covenant, despite our weak sinful nature, our unformed character and our human attempts to manipulate the outcomes of grace.

We didn’t earn it and we can’t lose it.  It is ours.  A close as our breath in an uttered prayer.  As strong and steady as our heartbeat.

We saw the evidence of that on the cross.  Jesus prayed “forgive them”.  And even as his heartbeat waned, he cried, “it is finished”.

In that instant, we were forever guaranteed that we are children of the promise and heirs to the blessing.

It is no wonder that the Psalmist proclaims

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!

He is our God and we are his people and NOTHING in Heaven or on earth, or under the earth can change that. God’s covenant is eternal.



HYMN:  take up thy cross



Today we remember the gift of Jesus Christ given to us giving thanks to God, for the many ways in which we to our offering into the storehouse. Please check the front page of the website for ways in which you can contribute.  Thank you.


Lent calls us to faithful living,
to trust the One who gives us life.

This day in faithfulness we bring our tithes, our offerings, our skills and talents as we offer all that we have and all that we are in the service of God.

Lent calls each of us to take up our cross,
to trust the One who bears it with us.  Amen



As Sarah waited...Ninety years for a son to fulfill God's promise.
We wait in hope for what we thought had been spoken to us.

As Moses waited...40 years in the desert, being prepared by God to lead his people.  We wait for emptiness and humility; for bravado to wither.

As Israel waited...40 years of wandering, hungry, depressed, thirsting, unsure. We wait for the right time to act

As the Prophets waited...1000 years of promises that God would raise up a Saviour.  We wait for the signs that you O God have not forgotten.

As Mary waited...9 months for the birth of the child of God.  We feel the birth-pains, yet fear for the child.

As John the Baptist waited...  Scanning the crowds for the one whose sandals he would not be worthy to untie. We long for an experience of the Divine

As Jesus waited... 30 years of creeping time.  40 days in the desert of temptation.  3 years of misunderstanding.  3 days in the depths of hell.

Waiting O Lord is the sign of faithfulness, a sign of dedication to keeping the covenant, a sign of our love given to you despite what we see around us.

So we wait for your time, O Lord.

In our waiting we have faith that you are preparing the way.  Our turn to walk on leveled mountains and straightened paths.  Our turn to watch the horizon.  Our turn to pass on the hope that He who promised is faithful and will come back.

In that hope, we pray for all those who need to hear your promise.

The lost, the lonely, the refugee, all those who are struggling with foul weather and local disasters.

We name them before you:


May they see your promise fulfilled in those who come to help.

In that hope we pray for all those who

Seek shelter from the cold.
Safety from danger
Solace for their anguish.

We name them before you:


May they see your promise fulfilled in those who walk alongside them.

In that hope we pray for our families and our friends.

We name them before you:


May they see your promise fulfilled in us as we share your love with them.



We pray for our dark and dreary world, a world in need – in need not just of a technical fix, but in need of love and grace, forgiveness and new life, hope, peace and fellowship, in need of renewal, in need of YOU.

This week we pray for Medical Centres and Offices, Hospitals, Doctors, Nurses and all hospital support staff.  We also remember those working in home care.  We thank you for all them working to keep us healthy.  We pray for Dr, Henry and the work that she is doing, with thanksgiving for her dedication.  This week O Lord she has revealed that threats have been made against her.  Surround her with protection, gird her with courage, remind her that the work she does saves lives and has great value.


Hear us now as we pray as Jesus taught us saying, 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, the power and the glory for ever.  Amen

HYMN  Thou didst leave thy throne



Friends, as we go from here,

let us rid ourselves of every weight that slows us down,

especially the sin that so easily impedes our progress.

Let us run the race that God has set before us,

keeping our eyes on Jesus Christ,

on whom our faith depends, from start to finish.

And as we run, know that the grace of Jesus Christ,

the love of God, and the presence of the Holy Spirit,

is always with you.

SUNG BLESSING   209  O Love that will not let me go

Non Traditional