On Eagles Wings (click here)
St. ANDREW’S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
February 7, 2021 PWS&D Sunday
LIGHTING OF THE CHRIST CANDLE
I invite you to light a candle, remembering that Christ is the Light of the World.
- We at St. Andrew's welcome each one of you to this online Worship service. We pray that the Holy Spirit will be present and guide our Worship today; may we be united in prayer, praise, and the written and spoken Word.
- We offer our thanks to Rev. Shirley Cochrane who has prepared and conducted this service for us all; may it be a blessing to each one of you.
- The Loonie Offering for February is going to "The Coldest Night of The Year" campaign, which is hosted by Shuswap Food Action Society. The walk (virtual) will take place February 20th. For more information see the "Recent Posts" to your right.
- In spite of the fact that St. Andrew's AGM (Annual General Meeting) will be postponed till we can meet in person; the Annual Reports are being compiled and will be delivered in the next few days. We encourage you to read them over and keep them handy for when we can safely meet and hold our AGM.
CALL TO WORSHIP
God has invited us to come.
So we gather.
God has spoken to the world.
So we listen.
God has given us glimpses of grace and mercy.
So we wait and watch, longing for healing, eager for hope.
God has been faithful to all generations.
So we trust.
And we worship God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.
HYMN 290 – Immortal, invisible, God only wise
Creator God, Source of all life, in you all creatures are connected and all creation redeemed and made new. Day by day you make yourself known to your people.
In the beauty of the heavens, we see your glory. In the bounty of the earth, we know your generosity. In strength for our bodies and minds we experience your energy. Delighting in all that we have seen, known, and heard, we worship you, one God, Creator, Christ, and Spirit.
UNISON PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Holy One, along with our praise, we offer you our confession. At times we forget what we once knew of your love. Consumed by worry, we forget to trust you.
Although we know you made us for a purpose, we choose our own ways.
Discouragement seeps into our hearts in the cold of winter and we do not serve you with eagerness. We fail to speak out against injustice in our community.
Forgive us. Renew our energy for your purposes. Raise us up on wings of faith.
May we walk by your light and not grow weary. May we run and not faint.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Dear friends, while it is true that we have all sinned, it is a greater truth that we are forgiven through God’s love in Jesus Christ. To all who humbly seek the mercy of God I say, in Jesus Christ our sin is forgiven. Be at peace with God, with yourself and with one another.
May the peace of the risen Christ be yours and always be with you
HYMN 321 Praise to the Lord the Almighty
21Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
25 “To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Praise the Lord.[a]
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the exiles of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
6 The Lord sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.
8 He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call.
10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
11 the Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.
SERMON On Eagles wings
In our story today, the Israelite's of Judah, for years have been living in a state of resignation and despair. Wars, captivity, deportation … so many losses. Faith is stunned, shocked and disappointed. They are a tired and weary people who probably have a lot of difficulty imagining a new future.
Politically, economically spiritually, their life is bankrupt. The Holy City of Jerusalem & Solomon’s Temple are in ruins. The nobles, the educated, the skilled artisans, the leaders and promising young people, are all dragged off in chains to serve the Babylonians. The priests & religious leaders have long assured the people that God would never let his chosen people be defeated, and will surely protect the Temple. Now, all this!
In their suffering, brokenness and despondency, they wonder “has God no power to protect us and save us? Has God forgotten, forsaken and abandoned us? Have we been fed just a great big lie?”
Yes -- we go through the rituals of worship and everyday life but in the final analysis what’s the point. Yes -- we carry on, but just where is God? It’s hard to imagine and define a new future. We have been in this new normal for so long now it’s just the way things are.
Into all this despair comes the voice of the prophet Isaiah. Comfort, comfort my people says your God ( 40: 1) …. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all mankind together will see it for the mouth of the Lord has spoken (40:5)
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable." (40: 28)
The verses we read question how it is that the people don’t recognize God’s creative power. The prophet then gives examples of this power that would be difficult to miss. Creation is not a one-time act but ongoing, sustaining activity that includes fostering societies in life-giving ways. We may recall that in Genesis it was into a formless void that God spoke creation. God has power even over “nothingness.” God created a home for all his creatures. The same power used to make the heavens and the earth will be leveraged on behalf of his people to form them into a new creation
Just as the stars have been named and claimed by God, so too God has named and claimed the people of Israel. Nor has God finished with them yet, there is a lot more to come. Those who return to Jerusalem will find their share of struggle and disappointment. The promise of new creation is not a promise of life different from the world as they know it. Yet the creative power of their God opens for them a way where before. there was no way.
The prophet reminds them, and us, that the God who created and named all of this vast universe, also has the power to restore, redeem and make right, even the most hopeless and impossible situation.
The focus of Psalm 147 is on God as both the agent of creation and the ongoing very active agent in the healing of the world. How amazing it is that the one who is the mighty and powerful creator is also the one who heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds ; the one who determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name is also the one who builds up Jerusalem and gathers the exiles of Israel. Many psalms give us words for our biggest feelings when we run out of ways to describe them: grief, sorrow, guilt, fear, abandonment, joy, and praise.
God’s pleasure is not in the ways the world expresses pleasure. Instead, the Lord delights in those who fear him and who put their hope in his unfailing love. Like Isaiah, the palmist extols over and over the greatness, understanding and providence of God! There are no questions asked and there are no “what ifs.” This psalmist has something to shout out and does so convincingly. When all else fails, praise God. When all succeeds, praise God. In everything, praise God.
Its just slightly over one year since we heard the label “coronavirus “which morphed into Covid-19. A new strain of a virus - a microscopic organism which has seemingly taken over the world. A “Thing” we cannot see or touch or hear but which has brought fear, panic, sickness and death worldwide. Politically, economically, spiritually, life in so many places appears bankrupt.
It has given rise to untold numbers of social media blurbs and blogs designed to proliferate misinformation and fear. Manipulation and brainwashing have far too many folks wondering what might be the truth - or if there is any truth. I’m sure you don’t need me to list the far-reaching consequences that have manifested over the last months.
Culturally we’ve come to expect and demand instantaneous results, for things to finish quickly -- we are unaccustomed to waiting—impatient, with emphasis on the immediate present. It began with scientists, medical experts and government officials telling us to wash our hands, keep our distance, stay safe and keep calm. But as weeks and months have come and gone, the messages have changed - the issues have become cloudier – the restrictions and lock-downs have become more severe and longer lasting. The development of the new vaccines and the ability to obtain and distribute them has created both hope and anxiety. And again, there are those who are asking “where is God in all this?” We, like the ancient Israelite's wonder what the “new normal” will be like.
God never promised life would always be a cruise on calm seas with the best of circumstances to celebrate. God never promised that we won’t have hard times & difficult days, nor that we won’t struggle or suffer without hurt & trouble. What God did promise is that he will never leave us or forsake us, that we won’t ever be alone, rejected or abandoned; that God is always present with us to comfort, sustain & strengthen us.
So how does God help us in times of trouble.? There is not a simple answer to that question.
Isaiah’s words come back to us, making a seemingly outrageous claim, but with assurance to those struggling & in great pain. (40:29-31)
"He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.
One may think these are just poetic words with hardly any connection to the real world -- and yet by personal experience in their own lives, these words of promise and hope have proven to be true for uncounted lives over many, many centuries.
To “wait” on God means to look to Him and depend upon Him. The root word means to “stretch around” much like a smaller cord stretches around a larger one to benefit from the larger cord’s strength. If we depend on God, we will be given strength we have not felt before.
This gift of strength is God’s quietest and most incredible work in our lives - the grace to endure. …the ability to endure is purely a gift. It may come to you as renewed energy, or then again, it may simply come as strength to “walk and not faint.” The last one may seem like a little thing, but when you are “against the wall” and have no occasion to soar and no room to run, it is a most welcome gift. However, there are still times when God does not change the circumstances and our own efforts will not change the situation
The words of the prophet and the psalmist might be welcome among people struggling to imagine what their own future holds. The promise of God’s continual creative work, with its mysterious yet life-giving power, continues to be a word of hope for God’s tired and weary people.
God’s redemptive purpose is at work in our lives and in our world. Therefore, we are not defined by any past or present situation or circumstance, rather, we are defined by the love and good purpose of God; by God’s presence in our lives ---
So, our call according to Isaiah, is to lift up our eyes, to believe, to see above and beyond our present circumstances, and look for God’s gracious hand at work in our lives. In God and on eagles’ wings, we have a glorious future that is already progressing far beyond and above the reality we now see, And the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all mankind together will see it for the mouth of the Lord has spoken .In everything, praise God. AMEN
HYMN 662 – Those who wait on the Lord (The words are written beneath the video below the title where it says "show more")
Inspired by God’s promise of abundant life, Presbyterian World Service & Development (PWS&D) envisions a sustainable, compassionate and just world. Today on PWS&D Sunday, we celebrate and reflect on the work our church is doing to ensure vulnerable communities around the world are able to improve their quality of life. From responding to emergencies to helping people access nutritious food, clean water, adequate health care and quality education, PWS&D is helping people thrive. Through the generous support of individuals and congregations, and in collaboration with global partners, we respond together.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Generous and loving God, we bring our offering to you, trusting that you will bless our gifts and use them in ways we cannot even imagine. Jesus touched so many lives in so many different ways. We ask that these gifts will touch many lives, too, with your healing and hope in these difficult days. Amen.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Holy and loving God, we thank you for the story of Christ’s life among us,
a pattern for the way we live. We give you thanks for moments of quiet and contemplation that restore us, and help us perceive your Spirit at work in the world and in our own lives.
Teach us to trust in your strength, so that we can live with confidence and courage even in the midst of stress and anxiety. These days of pandemic are still difficult and we need to know you are near in our lonely times. Meet us in that place of deep stillness within us all.
In the quiet of this moment, we hand over to you
all those things stirring within us today:
Anything that has been distracting or hurtful…
(Hold a silence)
Anything that makes us worry or brings sleepless nights…
(Hold a silence)
Our hopes and dreams for the future...
(Hold a silence)
and for the lives of those we love…
(Hold a silence)
We hold before you the needs and hopes of those we know who need your presence, especially remembering those facing grief and loss…
(Hold a silence)
We pray for wisdom for the leaders of our world…
(Hold a silence)
We pray that peace and prosperity will begin to flourish in places facing war, famine, and disaster, and we pray for the work of Presbyterian World Service & Development serving in these situations… We give thanks for congregations and individuals who continue to generously support the work P W S & D is doing to bring abundant life for all.
(Hold a silence)
We pray that those who manage the world economy find honest, just and generous ways to respond to the challenges caused by the pandemic…
(Hold a silence)
We pray for our community; each year we have held festival and community events long cherished in their tradition. We lift to you today the Boards and committees which organize the Roots and Blues festival, and the Fall Fair. We have missed the joy and celebration they bring to Salmon Arm, and we wonder what will happen this summer and fall. Bless the folks who have worked so hard to bring about these events and encourage us all in the waiting to see if the tradition will be still on hold - or joyfully embraced.
(Hold a silence)
May peace with justice thrive in the world you love.
And now we pray together in the words that Jesus taught:
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, the power and the glory for ever. Amen
For many of you this may be a very unfamiliar hymn however it captures the essence of Isaiah’s message. May you find hope and peace through its music and lyrics.
In your journeys may God direct you; in your happiness may God bless you; in cares, anxiety and trouble may God sustain you; in peril or danger may God protect you and, in all things, may you rise on eagles’ wings through the grace of God, the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
SUNG BLESSING: Teach me God to wonder