A Call to Worship
Ash Wednesday Year A 2014
Psalm 51: 1-17

God of unfailing love, we come to worship you today with deeply regretful hearts—
because we have failed to be true to you, and your Living Word of life and love.
Holy God, your Living Word is true, and your judgements are always pure and right.

God of unshakable love, we come together to confess to you our shame and sin—
because the focus and vision of our shared life has shifted far away from you.
Cleanse and renew us, and turn us back once more to your living presence.

God of enduring love, because of your generosity, look upon us all with mercy—
and give to each of us, a new delight in once again worshipping and praising you.
Healing God, unseal our hearts, our minds and our lips - so that we may praise,
worship and glorify our Merciful God, who will never reject any penitent spirit.
Restore to us the joy of your salvation, and help us to be your obedient people. Amen.

Psalm 51:1-17

For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet
came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.
2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.

3 For I recognize my shameful deeds – they haunt me day and night.
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.
5 For I was born a sinner – yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.

6 But you desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being.
7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me -- now let me rejoice.
9 Don't keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don't take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

13 Then I will teach your ways to sinners, and they will return to you.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.

15 Unseal my lips, O Lord, that I may praise you.
16 You would not be pleased with sacrifices, or I would bring them.
If I brought you a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
17 The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit.
A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise.

Prayers of Confession
Ash Wednesday Year A 2014
Psalm 51: 1-17

God of unfailing love, it is because of the generosity of your love, that
we have the courage to come before you with empty hands and empty
hearts! We have nothing that we can bring to you, except our regrets
and remorse for our sinfulness; and a complete trust in the merciful and
compassionate love of our God towards erring humanity. As we come in
penitence before God, we know that our prayers: “O God, be merciful to us..”1
have been heard. We give thanks that God’s response to our earnest
confessions is holy, pure and extraordinarily accepting of us as contrite
sinners, and that our heartfelt reply is: “..God has been merciful to us..!”.1
“Who is a pardoning God like you? Or who has grace so rich and free...?”2
“This, this is the God we adore: our faithful, unchangeable friend. Whose
love is as great as his power, and neither knows measure nor end….”3

God of unshakable love, despite the way we have dishonoured and defiled
our relationship with you; we have also tarnished the strong and supportive
caring and guidance that God has offered to us. Generous God, not only
have we sinned against you, but we have also sinned against our friends,
neighbours and our fellow travellers on God’s holy path to fullness of life.
We recognise our shameful deeds, and they haunt us - both day and night!
We need your purifying blessing of forgiveness, and a new beginning, so
that we can be true to God, our friends and neighbours, and so be healed.
“Who is a pardoning God like you? Or who has grace so rich and free...?”2
“This, this is the God we adore: our faithful, unchangeable friend. Whose
love is as great as his power, and neither knows measure nor end….”3

God of enduring love, “..your pardoning grace is rich and free...”1 has been
generously poured out over us all, to cleanse and renew us, so that once
again we may delight in worshipping and praising you. Restored as we are
in a new and richer relationship with God, we want to share our experiences
with others to help them in their struggles. We have learned for ourselves
the merciful nature of God and our own delight and joy in God has been
renewed, and so now we have a new purpose and goal in life, as we praise
and glorify our Merciful God, who will never ever reject any penitent spirit.
“Who is a pardoning God like you? Or who has grace so rich and free..?”2
“This, this is the God we adore: our faithful, unchangeable friend. Whose
love is as great as his power, and neither knows measure nor end….”3 Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Ash Wednesday Year A 2014
Psalm 51: 1-17

I give thanks to God that we are created with such a wide diversity of gifts
and graces; along with a plethora of emotions that range from exuberance
to gentle warmth and care towards others. But it is those strong emotions
that always seem to get us into trouble, and create havoc in our relationships;
our day-to-day living; and even in our worship, witness and service for God.
These emotions include grief, loss, fear, jealousy, envy, anger or even rage;
hope, joy, appreciation, relief, enjoyment, pleasure, trust, serenity and courage;
disappointment, disgust, frustration, embarrassment and helplessness. The
list is endless, and we can swing from one emotion to another with amazing
speed! Then there is the blessing of love – in its many colours, expressions and
forms. However, it seems that lust, fear and jealousy could be the emotions
to give us the most of life’s problems! We lust, fear or are jealous over so many
things and people in so many ways - including lusting after people’s friendship,
power, acceptance and acknowledgement. In Psalm 51, David confessed many
of these emotions to God, and how, when he acted upon them they developed
into sin; but he also experienced many other emotions in his response to God!

Creative pause: How can we creatively manage our emotions – or should we try?

Human sexuality is one of God’s great gifts to us, and like many gifts can be a
blessing and a curse, depending on how that gift is used with both women and
men the violated victims of its abuse. The tragedy of sexual abuse of vulnerable
people is one of the issues currently troubling society, be it the abuse of small
children; aged people in care; people with mental or physical impairment; or abuse
of one’s partner – the issue is one that never seems to go away. When it is revealed,
it cuts deeply with most people, because all of us are human – and therefore open
to temptation! The Letters to the Christians in Galatia offer us good advice: “…But
when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love,
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
We often only remember the first and last items in a long list of things, and so “love”
and “self-control” are probably the two most remembered; and those two “fruits”
are strong counters to the dehumanising effects often associated with sexual abuse.

Creative pause: Misuse of the gift of power is always a betrayal of that gift.

Am I being naive in suggesting that the twin emotions of faith and trust in God is
a great counter/balancing emotions to lust, fear and jealousy? Saints throughout
the ages have all struggled with their human emotions, and they even succeeded
from time to time in disciplining themselves; but our humanity creates a challenge
to everyone of us. Thank God we can confess and seek God’s loving forgiveness.

Creative pause: Thank God for God’s loving and compassionate forgiveness!

1 The Methodist Hymn-Book #350 - 1933 Edition
“With broken heart and contrite sigh”
Words by Cornelius Elven 1797-1873 (alt.)
Words are in the Public Domain

2 The Methodist Hymn-Book #356 - 1933 Edition
“Great God of wonders!"
Words by Samuel Davies 1723-1761 (alt.)
Words are in the Public Domain

3 “Together in Song” #220
“This, this is the God we adore”
Words by Joseph Hart 1712-1768 (alt.)
Words are in the Public Domain

4 Galatians 5: 22-23a (NLT)

Unless stated otherwise, all Bible readings and extracts used in these weekly Prayers and
Meditations are from the ‘New Living Translation’, © 1996. Copyright. All rights reserved.
Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189 USA.

*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:
© 2014 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year A. Used with permission.


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