A Call to Worship
Advent 4A 2016
Psalm 80: 1-7, 17-19

We come to worship our God and to be warmed by God’s radiant glory.
May God’s radiant presence with us enlighten and enliven our worship.

We come to praise our God, and to receive hope from God’s shining face.
May the light of God’s face shine on our life and our living - to renew us all.

We come to revere the Holy Name of God; to ask that God will forgive us;
to turn us again towards God’s-Own-Self; and to a renewed trust in God.
May the light of God’s forgiving and renewing love and gracious mercy be
known through God’s mighty powers to save us from ourselves and our sin.
God of light and love: “...Revive us so we can call on your name once more...” Amen.

Psalm 80: 1-7, 17-19
For the choir director: A psalm of Asaph,
to be sung to the tune “Lilies of the Covenant.”

1 Please listen, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph’s descendants like a flock.
O God, enthroned above the cherubim, display your radiant glory
2 to Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh.
Show us your mighty power. Come to rescue us!
3 Turn us again to yourself, O God.
Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.
4 O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies,
how long will you be angry with our prayers?
5 You have fed us with sorrow and made us drink tears by the bucketful.
6 You have made us the scorn of neighbouring nations.
Our enemies treat us as a joke.
7 Turn us again to yourself, O God of Heaven’s Armies.
Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.

17 Strengthen the man you love, the son of your choice.
18 Then we will never abandon you again.
Revive us so we can call on your name once more.
19 Turn us again to yourself, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.
Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.

Prayers of Confession and Trust
Advent 4A 2016
Psalm 80: 1-7, 17-19

Light-Giving God, we come to worship our God and to be warmed by your radiant
glory; and the holy presence of God to empower our worship and to enable us to
live and love through God’s inspiring grace. However, we also come to confess that
in the light of God’s presence, that we have failed in our living and loving; and that
we have sinned against God; against those people we most love; and against those
people we call our “neighbours” – whether they are near us or far away. We are
totally dependent on God’s light and warmth for the growth of our spiritual life; for
our commitment to community life; and for the sharing of our resources amongst
people who are needy or distressed. Come to us, God of radiant light, to forgive and
restore us, so that once again we may love and serve you and our needy neighbours.

Life-renewing God, “...Turn us again to yourself, O God.” and “make your face shine
down upon us...”
so that we may be especially aware of your presence surrounding
and uplifting us. We are very conscious that, although we dislike the concept of being
a called “sinner”, that is what we really are! We have become aware of the separation
that there is between us and God, and that it is we who are at fault. Holy God, we know
that we are damaged, and so we come to you for healing and wholeness. God of new
beginnings, we come together to call on your Holy Name. Forgive us, Gracious and
Life-renewing God, so that once more we can live and love in your radiant light and
glory. Strengthen and us to newness of life so that we may life as God’s blessed children.

Life-reviving God, in our deep need and despair, you have nurtured and cared for us
so tenderly, and together we come to praise and thank you; because you have given
us fresh hope and a new direction in life as your love and warmth comforts and revives
us, and so we bless your Holy Name. “Though your eyes see only darkness, / though
your eyes can see no light, / though your eyes see pain and sorrow: comfort, comfort./
Every night will have its morning, / every pain will have an end, / every burden will be
lightened: / comfort, comfort. / Comfort, comfort all my people / with the comfort of my
Word. / Speak it tender to my people; / all your sins are taken away.”
1 Thanks be to God. Amen!

A Personal Meditation
Advent 4A 2016
Psalm 80: 1-7, 17-19

St Athanasius of Alexandria, (293-373 AD) bishop of Alexandria, was one of the
early church scholars who attended the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) where the Nicene
Creed was adopted; which is the most widely accepted statement of faith amongst
Christian churches. It is used by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican,
Lutheran and most Protestant churches. The Nicene Creed was established to
identify conformity of beliefs among Christians, as a means of recognising heresy
or deviations from orthodox biblical doctrines, and as a public profession of faith.
St Athanasius, in his famous letter to Marcellinus, described the Psalms as being
“...like a mirror, wherein he sees himself and his own soul..... the Psalter has certainly
a very special grace, a choiceness of quality well worthy to be pondered... it has this
peculiar marvel of its own, that within it are represented and portrayed in all their
great variety the movements of the human soul. It is like a picture, in which you see
yourself portrayed...”
2 Psalm 80 is a community-based, shared lament expressing
the sorrow and pain of a community in crisis; and there is a repeated heartfelt prayer
of remorse and regret in verses 3, 7 and 19: “....Turn us again to yourself, O God…”

Creative pause: Psalms are “...like a picture, in which you see yourself portrayed...”1

Psalm 80 is amongst a group of psalms whose authors reflect their community’s
thinking, that assumes that God has permitted or caused a disaster to take place
because of Israel’s disobedience to God’s decrees and Law. Yet, their community
lament is also a shared statement of their faith in God, because they trusted God
to get them out of the disaster that has befallen them; and to establish a renewed
relationship of trusting obedience with God. Today, the “mirror” analogy reflects the
perceptions of many people, who still cry out: “....Turn us again to yourself, O God…”

Creative pause: The “mirror” analogy reflects the perceptions of many people.

The besieged community also prayed to God: “...display your radiant glory...”
and “....Make your face shine down upon us...” Those struggling people asked
for the light of God’s bright, even dazzling light to shine into the darkness of
their fear and despair. When we look in a mirror, our reflected self is affected by
the amount of light shining on that mirror. If we look at the mirror to try to see
ourselves in a dark room, our reflection is distorted and vague; however, in a
brightly lit room our reflection is clearly seen. We also see our “real” self if we are
brave enough look at who and what we are. According to St Athanasius, the mirror
of the Psalms’ messages reflects our real self before God and our understanding
of our relationship with God. Today, may we each join with the Psalmist to pray:
“...display your radiant glory...” and “....Make your face shine down upon us...”

Creative pause: May we always examine ourselves in light of God’s radiant glory.

1 From “Together in Song” #647
“Comfort, comfort all my people”
© Words by Robin Mann
Used with Permission, LicenSing License #604543

2 From “The Letter of Athanasius, our Holy Father, Archbishop of Alexandria,
To Marcellinus on the Interpretation of the Psalms”

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation,
copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

*Revised Indexing Scheme from 'Consultation on Church Union' (COCU).

I acknowledge and give heartfelt thanks for the theological inspiration available from the scholarship and writings of
Professor Walter Brueggemann; and through the resources from the internet and “The Text this Week” (Textweek).

If the Prayers and/or Meditations are used in shared worship, please provide this acknowledgement:
© 2016 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year A. Used with permission.


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