A Call to Worship
Advent 3C 2015
Psalm 80: 1-7

Rescuing God, please listen to our prayers - we need you to lead and guide us.
Shepherd of your flock in every age, we are lost without you to guide us home.

Restoring God, “...Turn us again to yourself, O God...” so we know your presence.
We come to shelter in the shadow of your glorious throne, come to us to bless us.

Renewing God, shine the light of your glory upon us, so that we can experience the
wonder of your presence; and of your blest favour as you give us your own peace.
Gather us within the holiness of your life-giving, life-renewing presence; so that we
may experience again the radiant warmth of your glory, majesty and mighty powers. Amen.

Psalm 80: 1-7
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 Israel 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 Almighty, how long will you be angry and reject 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 Almighty.
Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.

Prayers of Lament and Petition
Advent 3C 2015
Psalm 80: 1-7

All-Powerful Lord of hosts, in humility and reverence we come to you asking
that in your mercy you will hear our prayers, and that through your grace, you
respond to our cries and distress, and aid us in our struggles and despair. We
do not know who else to call on, because – Shepherding God – you have always
heard and answered our prayers. We regret so much the way we have shut you
out of our living, and pray that you will “...Make your face shine down upon us...”
Rescuing God, please listen to our prayers - we need you to lead and guide us.

God of the heavenly forces and God of our ancestors, we come to you with vivid
memories of your past acts of mercy and forgiveness, and the way in which you
delivered your people in days past; and that gives us hope, even though we are
deeply depressed because of our failures to be faithful to you. In our deep anguish—
we feel as if we have been fed endless sorrow for every meal; and drunk bucketfuls
of tears to quench our nonstop thirst. Our God, enable us to come to you again, to
receive your blessed guidance in choosing the right way to live in relationship with you.
Restoring God, “...Turn us again to yourself, O God...” so we know your presence.

Hope-inspiring God, we come to shelter in the shadow of your glorious throne of
holiness, knowing that from past experiences, that there we are secure within the
tenderness and justice of your love. We know that we are guilty of leaving the care
of our Shepherding God and going our own way; and we have paid the price by
being laughed at and ridiculed! All our hope is focussed on receiving once again
the mercy of your forgiveness, and the blessing of your radiant smile on us again.
Renewing God, shine the light of your glory on us so we know your living warmth. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Advent 3C 2015
Psalm 80: 1-7

In the first verse of the Psalm 80, God is named the “...Shepherd of Israel...”, the
One who would lead the wandering and scattered flock back to safety and to security.
The words of the prophet Ezekiel gave a clear picture why God was referred to as
the “...Shepherd of Israel...!” “…the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search
and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will
find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered….
I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples
and nations….Yes, I will give them good pastureland on the high hills of Israel.
There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in the lush pastures of the hills.
I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the
Sovereign LORD. I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring
them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak… I
will feed them, yes—feed them justice…!”
1 How those frightened and bewildered
people clung to God’s promises to act as their Rescuing Shepherd to save them!

Creative pause: “The LORD is my shepherd; ...He lets me rest in green meadows..”2

Psalm 80 is a lament and a petition to the Almighty Yahweh who, when called
upon, was enthroned in the holy atmosphere of the Holy of Holies in the Temple,
near the “Mercy Seat” with the two Cherubims arching over it to protect that holy
place. Moreover, in the normal translation I use, the God who named as the “God
but who is also referred by other descriptions in various translations as:
“God/Lord of hosts; God of the heavenly forces; Invincible Warrior; Commander of
heaven’s armies; God all powerful; and God of the angel armies!”
They addressed
God in various names but the repeated prayer message was the same: “...Turn us
again to yourself, O God. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be
In their situation of threat, isolation and destruction, the people call on God
to “Turn us again...” so that the light of God’s liberating love would again bring healing.

Creative pause: “...Turn us again to yourself.... O God. Make your face shine down..”

Memory is one of God’s greatest gifts to us as an individual, and especially so as a
community, as our shared memories bind us together into a unit, whether they are
good or bad memories! It was the memory of God’s past acts of loving rescue of the
people of Israel that encouraged them to plead again with God to: “...Turn us again
to yourself, O God. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved...”

Another of those memories was expressed in God’s words to Moses with a message
for the high priest Aaron and his sons, giving them a special word of blessing for God’s
people: ‘“May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be
gracious to you. May the LORD show you his favour and give you his peace.’”
3 The
psalmist remembered those words about “the Lord’s smile”, and used that imagery to
again describe God’s life-giving, life-renewing presence that could change their situation.

Creative pause: Give thanks to God for the memories you cherish!

1 Ezekiel 34: 11-16 (NLT)

2 Psalm 23: 1a, 2a (NLT)

3 Numbers 6: 24-26 (NLT)

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 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:
© 2015 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year C. Used with permission.


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