December 13, 2020

The year of the Lord’s favour (click here)

Passage: Isaiah 61: 1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126
Service Type:

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


  • You are invited to join us for a virtual Christmas Eve Service.  We invite you to come with a plate of cookies or other sweet Christmas treat, and warm beverages (tea, coffee, hot chocolate, mulled cider or wine, ) for the Agape Feast during the service.
  • On New Year's Eve we invite you to join us for a virtual prayer meeting, as we lament for what 2020 has brought and pray with hope for 2021.
  • Do not forget December's Loonie Offering to the SAFE House and the PWS&D Christmas Card project. To find out more check the "Recent Posts" to the right of your screen.
  • Thank you Rev. Ena for leading us in worship today and may God bless us all with understanding and wisdom as we hear the Word today.


Please have an advent wreath or a candle handy to light as a part of the call to worship.


Third Sunday in Advent: JOY

Reader:   In this season of Advent, we celebrate God’s joy.

All:          Knowing that Christ is coming to bring healing and wholeness to the world is a source of delight!

Reader:   When we gather for worship it is a celebration, an opportunity to rejoice in all that God is doing among us and beyond us.

All:          We welcome our neighbours and celebrate God’s goodness.

Reader:   Even when we face difficulty and trouble, we sing a song of faith, confident that Jesus is able to redeem our suffering world.

All:          Together, we are a sign of God’s joy for the world.

The candle of joy is lit.


Unison Prayer: God of transformation, we rejoice that you lift up the lowly and bind up the broken hearted. We marvel at your power to change hearts and lives. Fill us with your Spirit this season so that our voices declare your goodness and our lives proclaim your mercy in Jesus Christ. Amen.


Hymn  Hope is a star




In this Advent of expectation

draw us together in unity,

that our praise and worship

might echo in these walls

and also through our lives.

In this Advent of expectation

draw us together in mission,

that the hope within

might be the song we sing,

and the melody of our lives.

In this Advent of expectation

draw us together in service,

that the path we follow

might lead us from a stable

to a glimpse of eternity.



. O Holy God of Promise,

we so often place our trust in the things we can see,

and touch, and easily believe.

But you did not ask us to believe what is easy,

you have asked us to believe what is true!

Forgive us, Holy One, when we doubt the ways you work.

Forgive us when we find it hard to believe an ancient story.

Forgive us we question how you chose to enter the world,

born as one of us.

Forgive our lack of faith and belief

in ways which seem so impossible to believe.

Help us to look in faith, open our belief, and set aside our doubts

that you sent your Son, born of a virgin –

the one who has come to set us all free.

We offer these prayers in the name of your Son,

Emmanuel, God with us.  Amen.


Assurance of Pardon

With joy draw waters from the well of salvation!

Forgiveness is real!

Trust it and share it; forgive as you have been forgiven.

Jesus said: “There is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.”

Truly, God is our salvation we shall trust and not be afraid!

Rejoice and be glad, in Jesus Christ we are forgiven





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   hark the glad sound




Isaiah 61: 1-4, 8-11

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.

“For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”

10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations.

Psalm 126

When the Lord restored the fortunes of[a] Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.[b]
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes,[c] Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.


SERMON   The year of the Lord's favour

This is the third Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Joy.  After the focus of the coming judgement of the first two Sundays there is a sense of relief on this Sunday.  There is a sense that we can breathe again.  The coming Messiah, might not be as fierce as we feared.  We see the promise that the restoration of the people will be filled with wonder and with awe.  We realize that the process of God breaking into our lives is ultimately the story that we are restored to joy.  God’s joy.

Today, we are reminded that the Advent story is filled with hope and mystery, in the anticipation and preparation of a kingdom of this world and the next, and a king appearing when and where we least expect.

This is the season in which we hear the story of Heaven touching earth, and we see the shadow of the footsteps of the divine.  We recognize the Messiah as he walks dusty roads and talks with the people as once God did in Eden.  Best of all, we realize that we are a people, searching for a Saviour, and while we have somehow been missing the signs, we are beginning to catch glimpses.

So we are eager to embrace the message as Isaiah announces this coming kingdom and speaks of the year of the Lord’s favour, and proclaims a time of joy.

It sounds good, doesn’t it?  But do we know exactly what Isaiah was talking about?

Isaiah is speaking to a people returned from exile, and providing evidence that God’s hand is in the Sabbath cycles of the people and the land.

Every seventh year was a sabbath unto the Lord.  It involved the land lying fallow, as a part of its restoration.

But on the 7th cycle, this was the year of the Jubilee, the Year of the Lord’s favour.  The land lay fallow and was restored to fertility, but it was also a time when the people were restored.  Sins were forgiven.  Debts were forgiven.  People returned to their ancestral homes and reclaimed them.

For a people coming back from generations in exile, this was the best news.  They were again in their homes, and they were once again able to worship together in their homeland.

It was a year of celebration and singing and joy.  Celebration and joy that preceded the rebuilding that was yet to come, but the reality of that message was pushed aside for another day.

Years later,  Jesus came out of the desert following the 40 days of temptation, this is this passage from Isaiah was what he read to the people at worship.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[f]

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked. (Luke 4)

Were they speaking well of him, or were they doubting that a simple boy from down the street had the audacity to speak with such authority?

The result of the debate following this statement is that the people ran Jesus out of the Temple.

Sometimes the Good News is insulting to those who hear.

Good News in its way is as unwelcome as bad news.  Both change our lives forever.  Last week we considered the overwhelming implications of the collision of repentance and peace.  That kind of justice is huge, overwhelming, beyond human understanding.  But is the collision of redemption and joy any less intrusive or demanding?  Any less earth-shattering?

That was certainly the question on the lips of those who worshipped that day.  When Jesus spoke of himself as the justice of Jubilee, he was identifying himself as the Messiah.

A good preacher—always welcome.

A person who teaches so that you have a new insight into the working of God—a joy to be around.

But a Messiah, who comes in all the authority of God and who has expectations—not so welcome.  Especially when it was the son of Joseph the carpenter who was proclaiming and claiming such greatness.  Surely that boy should know his place in the world.

So yes, the news was insulting to some who listened.  The news was hard for everyone, even those who believed.  After all, if we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, then we have to live as people who believe.

The truth of this was implicit in the words of Isaiah to the Hebrew people.  Isaiah was speaking to the post-exilic community, reminding them that they were a restored people.  This was news that the people understood, and were grateful for, even gathered to praise God for.

But then Isaiah pointed out that this restoration required that they, the people, be a part of the ongoing restoration of God.  The restoration of the land, the homes, the Temple and even of the people, was a shared responsibility of the people who had already received God’s favour.  Clearly being the redeemed of the Lord came with expectations.

Isaiah was impressing on the people what we have been talking about since September.  Restoration has a purpose.  Restored people have a purpose.

And that purpose is to be partners with God in mission.

It is through that partnership that God promised his blessing on all who would dwell in his holy city of Jerusalem, and subsequently on all of us who are called into the Holy Catholic Church.

As the blessing emerges in Bethlehem, and journeys to the cross and arises from the empty tomb it becomes the full revelation of the wonder of God.  The Messiah would call out his people as he seeks to empower the Church to be and do its part in the blessing and restoration of the redemption of Jesus.

This is the time of joy.

The juxtaposition of redemption and joy is as challenging as the juxtaposition of redemption and peace. As challenged as we are by the message from Isaiah, we see that there is an underlying message of deep joy.

Joy is always to be celebrated.  Always.

According to Isaiah there are 3 reasons for joy.

God is on the side of the oppressed.

God loves justice

God has saved his people.

The people who had returned from exile deeply understood the joy of the oppressed.  But what about us?  We live in privilege, and mostly in peace, do we understand the joy of being restored from oppression?

We look at the homeless, the prisoner or the abused and we think they would know; but do we pause to recall the darkness of sin in our lives?  Even those of us who have known and loved God since our childhood days have known a degree of darkness.  Days when we realized that we have hurt others and been immersed in guilt.  Days when we have been harmed by others and are consumed with a desire for revenge.  Periods of time when we have known the dark days of the soul.  When that burden was lifted from us, we knew the joy of restoration from the oppression of sin and darkness.

We talk about the justice of God who loves us so much that he does not give us what we deserve, but gives us grace in Christ Jesus.  How can this be justice?

But for God, justice leads to peace.

Peace in our hearts.

Peace among families.
Peace among nations.

That life altering peace that God sends Jesus to bring, is the result of justice; and justice is whatever it takes for God to do in order to bring us back into a relationship with him.

So truly God’s justice is God’s mercy.

What does this look like?

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God. (Micah 6:8)

So our responsibility to the justice that is demanded of us would be to treat one another with the same mercy that God gives to us.

God has saved us.  God calls us to work with him to extend salvation to his world. God calls us to minister mercy to people as unworthy of that gift as we have been, and are.

This is the call of Advent.  Advent is filled with the sense that God is behind, in, through, over, above, under and generally all over the secret unfolding of the drama of salvation.  His fingerprints are all over this, and his heart is completely engaged in bringing his love, his faith, his peace and his justice –and especially his mercy to all his people.

It is no wonder the psalmist shouts with praise:

Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.

There are many kinds of laughter.  But the kinds of laughter the psalmist speaks of are the kinds of laughter that restores.

The laughter of relief when a difficult time has passed and we are learning how to relax enough to laugh again.  In those first hesitant moments we are reminded that we do remember how to laugh.  That laughter then turns into a full rolling laugh of joy as the realization dawns that the darkness of winter has passed and time of the singing of the birds has arrived.

That laughter that began as a weak and hesitant chuckle soon builds until it rolls out of us with deep shouts of joy.

In a Christmas Carol Dickens writes: “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”

That is what the laughter of joy is like.  It moves from within us to those around us and circles the world.

The psalmist continues:

Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

The Message of Advent is simple.  The Lord has come and lived among us.  He has taken upon himself our humanity and knows the struggles we have in all that we do.

Then in that knowledge he has granted us grace.  WE have been given mercy.  WE have been restored in God and granted his favour.  We are the redeemed of the Lord and that is cause for rejoicing.  Amen


HYMN:  Arise your light has come



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.

As God has so richly poured gifts of love, peace, hope, and joy into our lives; let us receive the morning’s offering as tokens of our gratitude for all these blessings.


Lord, you have blessed our lives in so many ways. Receive these tokens of our blessings and cause then to work in this world which you have loaned to us to make light shine in the darkness and peace an attainable goal in all conflicts. We offer these gifts in Jesus’ name. AMEN.



O Holy God:  If we were to list the miracles of Christmas

we’d probably talk about virgin births

angels and stars that light the sky

but perhaps there’s another miracle:

one of Mary saying ‘yes’ when God asked her to believe

and Joseph saying ‘yes’ when God asked him to trust.

They had to change everything about their lives

and the birth of the Christ-child wasn’t possible until they did.

What does it mean for us to say ‘yes’ to this story?

Grant us we pray, the courage to believe that it might be possible

for the darkness to be transformed to light and for peace and joy to come in the world and in our hearts?

We pray for those who know the darkness of the world and  the fragility of light;  we hold our breath as the candles flicker we know they don’t always last.

May the miracle of this season come to each one of us as we see the joy of heaven come down to earth in Jesus and say yes to the birth of his light among us and in us.


this is the season for miracles

and we pray for one today.

we pray we pray for a broken world…

We pray for the success of the vaccine as it begins to be given around the world.  May this be the sign of your light shining on the ending of this pandemic.

We pray for the people in India, where hundreds are sick of a presumed metal poisoning.  May your Spirit come upon the nation with your healing touch, and restore the people and eradicate the source of poison.

We add our own prayers for the world and its people



this is the season for miracles

and we pray for one today.

We bring you our prayers for those who know sorrow.

We pray for those who have lost a friend or family member to death at this time.  Ease the pain they feel, and help them to know the comfort of family and friends in startling new ways.

We pray for those who are grieving the people they will not be able to see in person this Season.  Grant them joy in what they can share, and fill each heart with the comfort and joy of your presence.

We pray for those we know in sorrow:


this is the season for miracles

and we pray for one today.


We pray for the world in despair

Holy One, we remember all those places and people who are in conflict.  Where tensions rise in families or among nations we pray for the peace of your presence.

We pray for those who live amid the destruction of wind, fire, storm, help them to recover

We pray for those who are refugees or homeless with no home to return to, make for them a desert in the highway and restore them to you and those whom they love.

We remember those who are known to us.



this is the season for miracles

and we pray for one today.


We pray for our own community

For our local and provincial governments making difficult decisions.

For Dr. Henry and the work that she does.

We pray for the EMS who tirelessly serve our community.  Bless them with strength and fill them with your wisdom as they respond to calls in our community.  Keep them safe we pray.

We pray for our hospital and all who work there.  Keep them safe, bring them to places of quiet and rest.  Restore them with peace and with joy.

We remember those people and places in our town dear to us:

It is the season for miracles

and we pray for one today:

Come, Lord Jesus, may your light come into our world.


Hear us now O God as we pray together as Jesus has taught us saying,  our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, they 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 for ever.  Amen

HYMN:  I wonder as I wander