January 10, 2021

The Voice of the Lord is powerful (click here – apologies for the audio issues in the video; you may want to follow the text of the sermon.)

Passage: Genesis 1: 1-31; Psalm 29

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


  • Just a reminder that this month's Looney Offering is going to the Shuswap Volunteer Search and Rescue group. See the "Recent Posts" for more information and how to donate.
  • On behalf of the Session of St. Andrew's, I would like to thank you all for your support of the Loonie Offerings in 2020. A total of $2776 was donated to the various charities through out the year. Thank you for your faithful generosity; it is making a difference in our community and beyond.
  • Thank you to Rev. Ena Van Zoeren for leading our worship today. May God bless and guide all of us as we adhere to the current Public Health Guidelines.


Introit:  The Psalms Project is one of my recent discoveries.  They are a group in Amsterdam, working to compose hymns with contemporary words for each of the Psalms.  Here is Psalm 29




In the beginning God created all things,
and God saw that they were good.

At our beginning, God created us
unique and irreplaceable, loved and wanted by God,
known and treasured by God even before He created us.

In all our new beginnings, God creates something new
so we will seek God in the freshness of this morning,
in the laughter of friends,
in the colors of creation,
and in this beautiful place.

Lord God, King of Creation,
open our eyes to see your presence,
our souls to sense your presence,
our ears to hear your presence,
and our hearts to love your presence,
ever here in your creation,
and ever beyond it in eternity.  Amen


Hymn  Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness



Loving God,
all your creation calls you blessed.
Your spirit imprints the whole universe with life and mystery.
Yes, all creation proclaims your love.
We now join this chorus of praise.

Loving God,
all of nature calls you blessed,
and so do we.

For you have woven an intimate tapestry
and call it life
and called it good.

In love you have formed a universe
so diverse yet so related,
and into its web you call us forth
to walk the land and swim the sea
with all our natural brothers and sisters.

To the stars
we seem no more than blades of grass.
Yet to you, each of us,
as each blade of grass and each star,
is an irreplaceable treasure,
an essential companion on this journey of love.

Loving God, as you lure the whole world into salvation,
guide us with your Spirit
that we might not be only pilgrims on the earth,
but pilgrims journeying home to you.

Open our hearts to understand
the eternal relationship that you have with all creation.
Only with this faith can we hope
for tomorrow's children.
Amen. Alleluia!



Let us pray to God,

that he will bring to fruition all that he desires for his creation.


You have created the universe by your eternal Word, your strong and powerful word, and have blessed humankind in making us stewards of the earth.

We pray for your world,  that we would take greater care of it,

that we may share and conserve its resources,

and live in reverence for the creation

and in harmony with one another.

Father, Lord of creation,

Help us to hear your powerful voice even as you

in your mercy, hear us.


You have given the human race a rich land,

a land of streams and springs,

wheat and barley,

vines and oil and honey.

We have by sinning brought about a world of suffering and sorrow.

We pray for those who bear the weight of affliction,

that they may come to share the life of wholeness and plenty.

Father, Lord of creation,

Help us to hear your powerful voice even as you

in your mercy, hear us.


In Christ you call us to a new way of life,

loving our neighbours before ourselves.

Help us to treat with care and respect the world as it is

as we live in hope and anticipation of the world as it will be

when your kingdom comes and your will is done.

Father, Lord of creation,

Help us to hear your powerful voice even as you

in your mercy, hear us.


Merciful Father,

Help us to listen for your powerful voice,
to hear and to obey and

accept these prayers and confessions

for the sake of your Son

our Saviour Jesus Christ.



Assurance of Pardon

Friends, in the goodness of the original Garden, God’s love was born; in the darkness on the cross God’s love cried in agony, in the surprise of an Easter garden, love was the source of our rebirth.

From Creation, to Cross, to Empty Tomb, God’s mighty voice reminds us that we are his beloved.  May this love be born in our hearts, minds, and bodies again this day. Amen.




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 A Mighty Fortress is our God




Genesis 1: 1-31

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Psalm 29 (responsive)

Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of his[a] holiness.

3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
Sirion[b] like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord strikes
with flashes of lightning.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord twists the oaks[c]
and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
11 The Lord gives strength to his people;
the Lord blesses his people with peace.

SERMON:  The Voice of the Lord is powerful 

The big question that is always before us is simply this:  What forms and informs our faith?

That question is especially important at a time like this when there is so much competing for our attention, much of it so dark and so negative that if we are not careful to keep our eyes on God it can lead us into despair.

For all of us who spoke the hope that 2021 would be better, we struggle to hold onto that hope.

The news these past few days has not been good.  The Covid 19 contagion seems to rise unabated.  New mutations make it spread more easily.  Restrictions keep being applied and reapplied despite the rollout of the vaccine… which is not rolling out as we had expected.

People who looked to this year with hope are left feeling that their hope has been dashed.  But has it?

We look to governments to show us the way; and we are disappointed with those “leaders” who have travelled, or had large parties—as if they have a privilege that means that we must do what they say and ignore what they do. But are they the voice we should be listening to?

The attempted coup in the United States leaves us all feeling vulnerable, wondering if democracy, decency, and justice are under attack.  It begins to feel like everything is out of control and that chaos and anarchy are the rule, and despite the restoration of power, the tensions simmer under the surface and the peace is tenuous.  But is chaos in charge?

Today I attended one of the worship services from the Worship Symposium at Calvin College.  The worship was held in Holy Trinity in Ireland which emphasised for me that we are all in God’s world and that we are all united in God’s purpose and calling.  The theme that wound through the worship was to Discover beauty in everyone.  The preacher declared that 2021 is a Kairos moment, bursting with possibilities awaiting our passionate response.

Do we respond passionately to:

The pervading hopelessness?

The hypocrisy of the privileged?

The chaos that clamours outside our doors?



The voice of the Lord is powerful.

Our first Scripture Lesson today came from Genesis and is a reminder that our Spiritual Formation begins in the word of God.

Here we are reminded that God spoke and all creation came into being.  We remember that the whole earth was formed on the breathing word of God’s speech; night and day were ordered, and every kind of living thing emerged.

The voice of the Lord is indeed powerful.  So powerful that it was spoken over a dark, watery void, hovering over the face of the deep and preparing to bring life and create order out of chaos.

Out of chaos God created simply by speaking.

God created heaven and earth.

Sea and land.


Creatures that live in the sea, walk on the land and fly in the air.

Humans that we might walk in unity with and fellowship with God.

And after everything that was created, what was the chorus?

It is good.

God’s voice was not only powerful enough to create, but the power of his divine speech was emphasized as God also qualified what he created as GOOD.

Psalm 29 affirms this news that God created order out of chaos, and brought splendour out of a formless void and that it was powerful and that it was good.

3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic. (NIV)
There is beauty and wonder and majesty in the world that God created.  And we are all a part of that creation.  We need to be reminded that we were created to be in relationship with God, and that what God created is good.

We need to be reminded that the power of that creative word still lives in us, and that we are all capable of living as the people whom we were created to be.

Perhaps before we can discover the beauty that resides in others, we need to discover the beauty that lives in us.   We are the beauty that God’s word has created.  If God’s word has the power to create that beauty once, surely God’s word is still powerful and can restore the beauty.

God’s word can reverse the pervading hopelessness.

God’s word is louder, stronger, truer that the words of politicians and people who let us down.

God’s word is strong enough to right the wrongs that have been done.

God’s word is strong enough to turn the chaos that humans create back into the purpose he intended in creation.

God’s word is strong enough to show us the beauty he created in each one of us and strong enough to show us the beauty in everyone.

As much as we might like to think otherwise even the people whom we would like to disparage and cast off have within them the beauty that they were created to be.  Who are we to declare otherwise when God has already spoken?

Admittedly, there are some days when it is harder not to feel discouraged.  There are days when we feel betrayed by those around us.  There are days when we want to say that our world is going to hell in a handbasket.

On those days we need to be reminded that our Spiritual Formation comes from God’s powerful word, not just in Scripture but also from the Holy Spirit who speaks within us.  That formation makes it possible for us to live as those who see the beauty and power of God’s word in us and all around us.

In the midst of the turmoil in Washington on Wednesday, a friend phoned me.  She said, “I got sick of listening to what was going on, so I came out here to the forest to remind myself that God is still God over all creation.“   Then she said, “And I needed to phone a friend who would help remind me that God is still with us.”

But truly in that moment it was me that needed the reminder, because as I watched and listened to what was going on, I was trying to figure out how I could still say that the word of the Lord was powerful.  How could I still peach that with integrity, and passion and a heart full of conviction?

But as I spoke with my friend it became clear—that I can look at the world falling apart all around me, or I can look at the Lord of creation.  I can look at the chaos or I can look at the God who redeems the chaos and calls it good.

I can still say that God’s word is powerful because God hasn’t changed.  God’s word hasn’t changed.  God’s love and care for all his creation hasn’t changed. And God’s power hasn’t changed.

I can still say that the word of the Lord is powerful.  I  can peach that word with integrity, and passion and a heart full of conviction.  Why?  Because I believe it is true.  God’s word and God’s power are not diminished by the worst that we as humans can do.  That is most often the moment when the power and beauty of God’s word become most evident.

When even one person is vaccinated.

When one person stands up for what is right and true and just.

When the darkness of chaos yields to the light of God’s love.

In each of those instances it is proven that God’s voice is powerful.

I am reminded of the reading from John from las week:   The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Do we look at the darkness around us, or do we look at the God who spoke and overcame the darkness?


Today, as we all affirm our faith we are reminded:

The voice of the Lord is powerful.

The voice of the Lord is powerful in me.

The voice of the Lord is powerful in this world.

The voice of the Lord is powerful.

Let us affirm our faith that the voice of the Lord is powerful indeed:



When nation rises against nation, and kingdom against kingdom,

the end is not violence:

When people arise against their own leaders, betraying the tenets of democracy , when God’s people betray God himself it is not the end

for there is a God of resilient, redeeming love,

and the Purpose of God is at work in the shadows,

and the darkness cannot smother it.

Lord we believe, strengthen our timid faith.


When there are earthquakes, famines and pestilences

and collisions among the stars,

the end is not chaos:

God the Creator of the heavens and the earth has not forsaken us,

and the harmony will again break out and gather

to hasten towards consummation.

Lord we believe, strengthen our timid faith.


When believers are arrested and abused,

dragged before kings and governors,

the end is not injustice:

the Holy Spirit is always with you in all your trials and travail,

and words will be given to confound your adversaries

and shake the gates of hell.

Lord we believe, strengthen our timid faith.


When parents, brothers, sisters, relatives or friends,

betray you even unto death,

the end it not alienation:

the crucified Christ will reconcile all things seen and unseen,

and the glorious finale is much nearer than when you first believed.

Lord we believe, strengthen our timid faith, and let us affirm, “The Voice of the Lord is Powerful.  (Bruce Prewer, adapted)



HYMN:  O Worship the King





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.


Generous Father, thank you that all things were created through you and for you, you are before all things, and in you, all things exist.  We praise you for your creation and for calling us to a purpose in creation.    We fulfill that purpose as we bring the gifts we place before you now. May our giving and our living bring your voice of love, your gift of mercy and your deep peace to all the lives we touch.  Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.



Creator God, Architect of the Universe,  Your voice called out over the deep and darkness and brought forth light.

Your voice called out over the waters and brought forth life.

Your voice called out over this earth and brought forth our very beings.

Your voice continues to call out in our Universe and bring new hope and new life.

Help us to hear Your voice above the hum of the news reports and the buzz of the anxiety in the face of the pandemic.  Be with those who are ill.  Comfort those who grieve the death of a very dear friend and family member.  Be with the doctors, the nurses and all hospital staff that they will be given new strength and fresh compassion to meet the growing demands of ill, suffering and dying people.

Help us to hear Your voice in the cries of children, in the soft tones of the sick, in the pleas of the poor.  Hear the cries of those who are seeking refuge from war, pestilence and violence in their land.  Even in these difficult days help us, our governments and all in authority, the wisdom to find places where mercy can be given to the lost of our own homelands, and the lost around the world who are calling out for mercy.


May we hear, listen, and respond to Your voice in our lives and in our world.

We pray this day for your voice of peace, calm and reason for all places of turmoil in the world.  We pray especially for the people of The States where demonstrations are undermining their government.  We pray for the people of the United States that they may have peace among them all, and a gracious transition to a democratically elected government.

Almighty God, Your Spirit swept over the waters of creation;

You are sweeping over us now, creating something new, reminding us of the beauty of your creation around us and in us.


Call us away from the distractions of the world to experience what You are doing now, in us, and through us, and in our world.  May we hear your voice and see your hand.

Hear our prayers for all those people and places that are on our hearts.  Even as we pray for them, we affirm that we will work hand in hand with you, to make your will be known, and grow your mercy in us.  We will help to shine the light of your love and bring healing and mercy hand in hand with your Spirit.

We pray for:

Our prayer concerns here:

Open us to a new awakening, a new beginning, where we look through the lens of the goodness of Your creation, experiencing all possibilities in You.


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.

Today we pray for Our MLA, the Provincial Legislature, Our MP, the Government of Canada, and Dr. Henry and all provincial and federal health officers.  Guide them in compassion, fill them with integrity, and shine your light through them to show us the way.


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  God, who stretched




God is lord over the waters and rules forever.
May the God who reigns over all creation
give us strength and bless us with peace.

The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us forevermore.

SUNG BLESSING:  Teach me God to wonder