Great are the works of the Lord (click here)
Welcome to worship at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Salmon Arm. We are delighted that you have joined us online.
LIGHTING OF THE CHRIST CANDLE
- Thank you Rev. Ena Van Zoeren for preparing and leading us in worship today. May the Holy Spirit be present and guide us all in this service, at this time.
- In spite of the fact that St. Andrew's AGM (Annual General Meeting) will likely be postponed till we can meet in person; the Annual Reports are being compiled and will be delivered in the next 10 days. We encourage you to read them over and keep them handy for when we can safely meet and hold our AGM.
- Thank you to Gloria Fitt who has prepared a Lenten Devotional package for the people of St. Andrew's. Your Annual reports will be included in the same envelope as the devotionals. Thank you Gloria for your care and concern for us all during these times of isolation due to Covid, it is much appreciated.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Praise the Lord!
I thank the Lord with all my heart
in the company of those who do right,
in the congregation of God’s people.
How amazing are the works of our God!
They are treasured by all who love and serve him.
Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty.
His righteousness never fails.
Who can forget the wonders he performs?
How gracious and merciful is our God!
All he does is just and good,
and his commandments are trustworthy.
They are forever true,
to be obeyed faithfully and with integrity.
He has paid a full ransom for his people,
guaranteeing his covenant with them forever.
What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!
Reverence for the Lord is where true wisdom begins,
and the rewards of wisdom come to all who obey him.
Praise God’s name forever!
PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Amazing God, we come to you with a heart full of praises.
Blesser of our lives, we know that all we have is a gift from your hand.
Consoling God, we thank you for the strength of your presence.
Disturbing presence, you call forth from us more than we know we have.
Enlightenment from you floods our sight and our understanding.
Fresh inspiration comes from you each day.
Great God of love, your care never leaves us, not even in the darkest days.
Hovering Spirit, you fill our being with your strength and holiness.
Incarnate Jesus, for us you lived and for us you died.
Journey companion, we are blessed to walk in your protection.
King of Kings, you remind us that earthly power pales in your presence.
Lord of Love, you cause our love to grow for you and for one another.
Master of Generosity, you give us all the gifts of your Kingdom.
Never have you failed us.
Open arms of love wait for us when, when we confess we have failed you.
Peace from your heart fills our being.
Quietly we wait in your presence.
Reaching out to you as you always reach out to us
Seeking the sweetness of your face.
Touched by your healing power.
Undeserving of your grace, yet recipients without measure
Victorious Christ, you call us to walk, live, and love in victory with you.
Welcoming God, it is our great desire and pleasure to worship you.
Xavier of us all, we bow in humbleness and sing with joy.
Zealous in your love, we come to praise all that you are and all that you give and we praise your great and holy name. Amen.
UNISON PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Let us pray to God,
that he will bring to fruition all that he desires for his creation.
We pray for confidence
to share your Word with others
and for the opportunity to proclaim it.
Forgive our reluctance,
We pray for wisdom
to know what should be said
and the moment in which to say it.
Forgive our reticence,
We pray for knowledge
of the fullness of your Grace
and the willingness to live it.
Forgive our ignorance,
Be the centre of all we are
The Light by which we walk
The blessing we bring to others
Through Jesus Christ alone we ask. Amen
Assurance of Pardon
Martin Luther writes: 'God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone
but also on the trees and in the flowers clouds and stars.'
To which we add that God writes his Gospel in our hearts, forgiving our sins, giving us a mission and a purpose and causing his love to flow through us. Believe the good news, in Jesus Christ we are forgiven, for now, for ever and for eternity. Praise be to God.
PASSING THE PEACE
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 Fairest Lord Jesus
Listen, hear and remember, these portions of the revelation of God’s word for us.
Praise the Lord.[b]
I will extol the Lord with all my heart
in the council of the upright and in the assembly.
2 Great are the works of the Lord;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
giving them the lands of other nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
8 They are established for ever and ever,
enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He provided redemption for his people;
he ordained his covenant forever—
holy and awesome is his name.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.
Mark 1: 21-28
21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
SERMON: Great are the works of the Lord
In Mark we read: The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.
What a reaction from the crowd! Wow! Amazed, incredulous, and almost disbelieving their own eyes, and so the crowd asked questions.
What is this?
Who is this?
Did you see the impure spirits obey him?
What is this new teaching?
A lot of questions for sure, but we have some questions of our own.
Did the people see God in what Jesus did?
Where is the awe and worship of God that this miracle should have inspired?
Did they not see God’s fingerprints all over this event?
We also pause to ask questions of ourselves.
How often do we marvel at the things that happen around us, and fail to see God’s presence in it?
A few times in the past month, I have encountered the phrase, “God’s fingerprints are all over it”.
While we normally think of fingerprints being associated with a crime scene, in this case they are associated with a love scene, or a mercy scene, or a scene of great power as God pours his blessing into our lives and into the world. We just need to look for his fingerprints.
Psalm 111 teaches us how to do that. It is a hymn of thanksgiving and praise, but it is written in such a way as to point to God’s presence in everything.
Written in the acrostic style, it uses the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, in alphabetical order to proclaim the attributes of God.
For the reader this is an aide to memorization, but it also points to a practice that encourages all of God’s people to look closer at who God is and what God is doing all around them.
When we write an acrostic poem or prayer, the discipline imposed by the structure causes us to stop, and think, to look and wonder, to see and to proclaim. This process makes us look more closely at the goodness of God that we see all around us, perhaps even at the goodness that we can overlook in the carelessness of daily living.
The carelessness of living is all around us. WE get so used to the people and events that sometimes we don’t stop to cherish them.
The play “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder points that out. It is a story about the unfolding of life in Grover’s Corners, and people go about everyday life. The central plot revolves around the Gibbs and the Webb families, and especially the romance, and marriage of George and Emily.
In the final scene Emily has died in childbirth and at the graveside service her spirit hovers apart from the mourners. Emily senses that she can go back and experience the past, and although warned not to, she goes with the Narrator and revisits her 12th Birthday. This is usually portrayed by them observing from a ladder.
The emotional intensity of watching that day, and especially how she did not appreciate all that was happening on that day, overwhelm her. She is distressed by her impatience with others, how she overlooked what had been done for her, and she returns to the gathering of the dead and talks over the experience with her mother-in-law’s spirit, saying, “they don’t understand, do they?”
Any one who has every played Emily will point out the feelings of guilt, and shame, even despair as she watches her younger self go so carelessly and thoughtlessly through the day.
That is the truth that we all live with that carelessness and that lack of understanding. It seems that it is extremely difficult to live in constant self-awareness and constant awareness of God’s presence and actions. But I think that it is important for us to stop frequently and examine ourselves, our thoughts and actions in order to see ourselves in a different light. That is best done in reflection with God and truly important for us to also reflect on how God’s fingerprints were even in those careless and thoughtless moments of our lives.
That brings us back to the Psalm. Commentators write that this psalm is written to be a teaching tool, designed to teach us about God and give us all the main reasons to praise God.
We are reminded that God’s works are great, and that His greatness is proven in the delight of all who have studied what He has done. Think back to when you made a new, or rediscovered a forgotten, gift of God’s grace. The wonder it brought. The joy you felt. The way in which you took great delight in the freshness of the sight through which you saw God.
When that happens, we see how God’s fingerprints have been all over what we have discovered, learned and experienced.
The Psalm urges us to look for God’s honour in his actions among his people.
God’s majesty in the creation around us.
God’s righteousness which floods our lives with mercy.
We are urged to see how God’s wonderful deeds have brought forth the praises of the people and how he has become known for those deeds.
We are urged to look for signs of his grace and mercy that God extends by:
Always remembering his covenant.
Giving his people a goodly heritage.
We are encouraged to look at God’s attributes:
Faithfulness and justice
Trustworthiness and uprightness
A redeemer of his people
Committed to his covenant forever
With joy the psalmist proclaims that God is holy and awesome and that when we have fear (holy awe) of the Lord, then we have a good understanding.
The psalmist reminds us that when we look at all that God has done for us, that his praise will endure forever in our hearts and on our lips.
Today we are reminded that the Psalms are for our benefit. They form the basis for our praying and when we enter into the praises of the Psalms, we are shaped by them. The text works on us, and causes us to see and know the presence of God in new ways.
We are reminded that we are the blessed of the Lord, and that our delight is in God, whom we meditate on day and night. (Psalm 1).
This is the process whereby we look for God’s fingerprints in our lives. Those fingerprints are there, even on our most careless days, our most neglectful days, our most thoughtless days and especially on the days when the problems can feel as if they overwhelm us and God feels absent.
God’s fingerprints are all around us.
Scattered about. On top of one another.
Swirled and smudged.
Sticky with the nectar of his love.
In us, over us, above us, around us, God’s fingerprints are everywhere.
But we need to slow down and look for them.
There are so many ways to look for God’s presence.
Like the psalmist we can make an alphabetical list.
Or we could simply stop and count our blessings.
Or we can look back at a difficult time and reflect on how we didn’t see God’s presence then; but see it clearly now.
We can vow to see God when we get up each day and to look for him through the day.
Or we can vow to let God use us to touch others with his love.
Or in a difficult day we can deliberately stop and breathe and allow God’s peace to infuse us. I’ve received that advice many times.
When we do any of those things, we know that we know, that we know that God is always with us, and that his fingerprints are everywhere.
Great are the works of God, and his majesty is all around us. Thanks be to our Glorious and Amazing God. Amen
Today we remember the gift of Jesus Christ given to us giving thanks to God, for the many ways in which we to bring our offering into the storehouse. Please check the front page of the website for ways in which you can contribute. Thank you.
How amazing are your works oh God! They are treasured by all who love and serve you. Today we pour our offering out before you, with thanksgiving for your many blessings and in hope that through us, our living and our giving, you will continue to bless the world’s people. Praise be to your glorious name. Amen
PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING AND INTERCESSION
Generous God, for all that sustains us; air to breath, warmth and light,
food to eat, water to drink, we offer our thanks and praise.
For spiritual gifts that bind us together; one people, one body
empowered for service we offer our hands and voices.
For the Good News of the Gospel; healing and wholeness
freedom and justice we offer our hearts in service and
pour out our prayers for your world.
Father God, in whose love we live and move,
we pray for a world crying out to feel loved,
wanted, cherished and unique.
WE bring our prayers for those who are: struggling with mental health problems, those who are ill and those who are grieving.
Heavenly Father, source of all love, hear our prayer
We pray for a world torn apart by conflict and war.
A world that lives uneasily in a climate of fear
with no clear vision for future days
We bring our prayers for countries in conflict, for places that suffer following earthquake, flood or fire, and for all people who wander in search of a home,
Heavenly Father, source of all hope, hear our prayer
We pray for a world that thinks less of others than of self.
A world where division between nations, race, religion
neighbour and family leads to distrust
We pray for all those who don’t know where to turn for help, for all those whose emotional distress hinders loving relationships, for all who long deeply for your peace, but don’t know where to find it.
Heavenly Father, source of all peace, hear our prayer
We pray for a world that is short on happiness,
too busy to enjoy this world you have created,
too preoccupied with living to appreciate life.
We pray for all those who don’t appreciate the joys in the people in their lives, for all those who can’t trust the good that surrounds them and especially for those who can’t appreciate all that you are doing, despite what we see all around us.
Heavenly Father, source of all joy, hear our prayer.
We pray for a world where spiritual longing is satisfied
by fashionable notions and temporary solutions
with no thought for tomorrow.
We pray for all those who seek Jesus, seek hope, seek salvation and seek an assurance that you indeed are God.
Heavenly Father, source of our Salvation, hear our prayer and fill us all with your Spirit.
We pray for a world that needs to know your love, your hope,
your peace, your joy and Salvation. A world that needs to know it is special, unique because it has been created by an awesome God and that is uniquely loved by a Heavenly Father.
OUR PRAYERS FOR THE COMMUNITY
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 all First Responders: Firefighters, EMS, Police and Search and Rescue.
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
CHARGE AND BENEDICTION
May God the Father bless us;
may Christ take care of us;
the Holy Ghost enlighten us all the days of our life.
The Lord be our defender and keeper of body and soul,
both now and for ever, to the ages of ages.
SUNG BLESSING: Teach me God to wonder