A Call to Worship
Ash Wednesday Year C 2016
Psalm 51: 1-17

Compassionate God, we come to offer to you our worship and our regrets.
As we worship you, we give thanks for the people you inspire to bless us.

Forgiving God, we come to offer you the sin that has separated us from you.
As we worship you, we thank you for your mercy when we confess our sin.

Healing God, we come to offer you our brokenness; and in anticipation and
expectation of your forgiveness, we worship you for your steadfast love for us.
As we worship you, we give thanks for your holy and steadfast love for each
one of us; that your love is much stronger than any evil that can tempt us; and
that the power of your healing love renews and restores us to God’s-Own-Self. 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 rebellion; it haunts 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 womb, teaching me wisdom even there.
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 loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, 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 my mouth may praise you.
16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Prayers of Confession and Trust
Ash Wednesday Year C 2016
Psalm 51: 1-17

Compassionate God, we come to offer to you our worship and our sin, our regrets
and our remorse. As honestly as we can, we confess to you that we have failed
again. We have failed your love for us, and we have failed our own expectations
of our way of worshipping and serving our Lord and God. We give thanks for the
trust we have in God, which enables us to confess openly and honestly to our sin,
and in acknowledging our dependency on God’s grace and compassion for us. We
thank you too, for the people you inspire to bless us with their practical love for us
and for our spiritual wellbeing. Forgive and bless us as we make our confessions.

Forgiving God, we come to offer to you our sense of privilege and our smugness at
our own personally claimed righteousness; asking that we may be forgiven for deluding
ourselves about our status as God’s own person; and as God own community of faith.
Help us to honestly look at our individual and corporate spiritual lives in the light of
the sin that has separated us from God’s holy presence. Help us too, to lay that sin and
pride on the altar of our worship, even as we thank you in anticipation of your mercy.

Healing God, “...create in each of us a clean heart...and renew a loyal spirit within us...”
even as we come in hope and trust to offer you our brokenness, anticipating and even
expecting your merciful forgiveness. As we worship you, we thank you for the blessings
with which you shower us because you call us not to be all things to all people, but simply
to ‘be’ with people in their needs. As we worship you, Renewing God, we come asking
that you restore within us the holy joy of trusting in your holy and steadfast love for each
one of us; the hope and belief that your love is much stronger than any evil that can tempt
us; and that the power of your healing love can renew and restore us to God’s-Own-Self. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Ash Wednesday Year C 2016
Psalm 51: 1-17

In the ‘romantic’ glow of the ‘love story’ of David and Bathsheba, it is so very easy
to overlook the role the prophet Nathan played in that drama. “Nathan the prophet”,
is how he was always described in the references to him in 1 Chronicles, 2 Samuel
and 1 Kings; and as Biblical history has instructed us, prophets were almost always
an ‘endangered species’, as they usually led a very difficult life; and very often met a
rather sticky end! Nathan was also described as an “adviser” to King David; which was
also a risky role in offering advice to any king! Nathan was usually introduced in the
text with the words: “...the LORD sent Nathan the prophet to tell David…” so Nathan
was a man of extraordinary obedience to God! He was also a brilliant reconciler who
was able to talk to King David, enabling him to see the mistakes within his behaviour,
especially towards vulnerable people. David and Bathsheba get all the ‘headlines’—
but only because of the obedience to God of one brave man - “Nathan the prophet”.

Creative pause: Have you been blessed by the ministry of another “Nathan”?

How often in life have we each needed the intervention of someone to ‘sort us out’—
a listener, an adviser, a reconciler, or even a prophet of the Lord to aid us in our
relationships, in our day-to-day living, in our employment, or in our volunteer work!
I remember very clearly an incident when I was accused of being racially biased—
which greatly shocked me, as I had always tried very hard to be sensitive to other
people’s hurts and vulnerabilities. When I regularly travelled the world, I always tried
to consciously treat everyone the same way as I mixed every day with people of other
cultures, traditions and races! After that incident, a wise woman talked to me about
racial sensitivities and her experiences in that area, and she helped me to see that
sometimes, the ‘fault’ often arises out of the life experiences of the accuser rather
than the accused. All this taught me some valuable lessons: that no matter how careful
we are, people always carry their hurts deep within them and are always susceptible.

Creative pause: Because of people’s susceptibilities, we can so easily hurt people!

The above experience was also a reminder to me of how easy it is to slip into harmful
and destructive habits; and how, even with the best of intentions, we can experience
the sin of bias and prejudice that separates us from God and from each other. Nathan
continued to have an influence after his own and King David’s deaths, as we learn that
one of King David’s successors, King Hezekiah led the return back of the true worship of
God when David’s and Nathan’s plans for Temple worship were used in the great spiritual
and worshipping revolution that occurred under Hezekiah’s leadership. The effects of true
spiritual guidance and advice never dies, and subsequent generations can learn from
the faithfulness of God’s trusted people – such as Nathan and my counsellor. Their roles
as reconcilers can never be under estimated. It is my guess that King David often thanked
God for the blessings and ministry offered to him and his people by “Nathan the prophet”—
who encouraged David to be honest in confessing his sin to God as he sought God’s pardon.

Creative pause: Give thanks to God for people who have acted as a reconciler for you.

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 C. Used with permission.


Download/view a pdf file of this document here: ash wedc_2016.pdf