A Call to Worship
Christmas 2A 2014
Psalm 147: 12-20

Called to be God’s people, we gather to praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!
The Lord our God brings peace, and fully satisfies the hunger of the needy.

Called to be God’s people, we gather as a part of God’s eternal kingdom.
The Lord our God offers us security in the shelter of God’s holy presence.

Called to be God’s people, we gather in our sacred space to praise God—
as inheritors of God’s promises from ages past, yet which are still relevant.
The Lord our God has revealed the truth of our special relationship with God—
because God has uniquely blessed all God’s own people. Praise the Lord! Amen.

Psalm 147: 12-20

12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he has fortified the bars of your gates and blessed your children within you.
14 He sends peace across your nation
and satisfies you with plenty of the finest wheat.
15 He sends his orders to the world –
how swiftly his word flies!
16 He sends the snow like white wool;
he scatters frost upon the ground like ashes.
17 He hurls the hail like stones.
Who can stand against his freezing cold?
18 Then, at his command, it all melts.
He sends his winds, and the ice thaws.
19 He has revealed his words to Jacob,
his principles and laws to Israel.
20 He has not done this with any other nation;
they do not know his laws.
Praise the LORD!

Prayers of Thankfulness and Petition
Christmas 2A 2014
Psalm 147: 12-20

Holy God, as people throughout all time have gathered to worship and
praise you, we gather to offer you our worship and to sing your praises,
and celebrate the many miracles of God’s grace that we have received.
Just as the words “Jerusalem” and “Zion” evoke thoughts about how central
the worship of God was to the ancient people of Israel; even today, they still
hold a mystique and a sense of holiness, because all that that ancient
symbol of God’s presence still holds for many people. If we each felt that
same sense of holiness and mystique about our own place of worship—
how much richer to us would be our prayers and songs of thankfulness!
“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Bow down before him, his glory
proclaim…truth in its beauty and love in its tenderness…The Lord is his name.”

Compassionate God, this Psalm reassures us that God cares for people of
all ages, but people who the recipients of God’s special concern are those
who are weak and vulnerable; as justice, love, mercy and equity have long
been celebrated as the foundations of God’s throne of grace and mercy. Just
as the Temple and the surrounding hills of Zion were the weaker entry points
used by invading armies seeking to conquer the people of Israel, so we too are
often at our most vulnerable when we come to God in prayer, when we open
ourselves up to God in humble confession. Strengthen us, we pray, as we come
in worship, so that we may focus all our concentration on our worship of God.
“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Bow down before him, his glory
proclaim… trust for our trembling, and hope for our fear…The Lord is his name.”

Revealing God, from ancient times the patriarchs and matriarchs heard God’s
words of grace and direction, and in obedience they faithfully tried to follow in
God’s way of life. There have also been many times that God has come to us
with prods or nudges, that challenge or inspire us into action; to encourage us
to be part of the fulfilment of God’s eternal purposes. We give thanks to God,
that no matter how hard the challenge is for us, or the difficulties we encounter
in our obedience to God; with God’s blessing - we will bear fruit to God’s glory.
We give thanks that God calls people of every age and description to work in
God’s kingdom of grace and love, and that even our obedience matters to God.
“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.... fear not to enter his courts …
on his heart he will bear it for you… comfort your sorrows, and answer your
prayerfulness, guiding your steps in the way best for you… The Lord is his name.”
1 Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Christmas 2A 2014
Psalm 147: 12-20

In a recent, fraught meeting about church property, I heard it said not
very originally, but with extreme relevance to that situation of anxiety:
“Remember that the real “church” is the people, not the buildings!”
Naturally, those people had an emotional attachment to their church
because so many family-related events had been experienced within
its four walls. Personally, I think that the people of Israel experienced
different spiritual ties to the Jerusalem Temple as those people did to
their “family” church. The Temple’s historical and religious existence was
a symbol which uniquely defined the people of Israel as God’s people,
closely bonded to God in a covenant relationship. The Temple’s complex
buildings and its location meant that pilgrims often had to undertake long
and arduous journeys to attend religious festivals; and worshipping in the
Temple in Jerusalem - especially for the Passover Festival - was the
very pinnacle of all their worship experiences for those faithful people.
Could we reverse the words of the above statement to declare that the
“people were the Temple”? It would be hard to justify that statement at
that time, because of the Temple’s ancient significance and its centrality
for the covenantal worshipping relationship between God and God’s people!

Creative pause: How would you define your sacred place of shared worship?

Side by side with the covenant relationship which God had bestowed on
the people of Israel, the “work of God’s hands” were also evident in the
way God continued to command the forces of nature. Prosperity and
peace were daily gifts and blessings from God; however, those unique
blessings from God also brought responsibilities. There is a repeated
call to praise God in the Psalm and to live out that praise by sharing it with
the world. Israel’s unique relationship with God was not solely for their own
benefit; but Israel was also to be a blessing to the whole world - teaching
other nations about what happens when one lives in partnership with God!

Creative pause: Each day, do I live out my praises to God in all I do or say?

God blessed the people of Israel with many revelations of God’s-Own-Self,
but the people of God often kept those revelations clutched to their bosom, and
so they lost much of their uniqueness, because they took God’s revelations for
granted. One of the challenges of God’s “blessedness” is that we also can to start
to take God’s gifts for granted, and before we know it, God’s gift of “blessedness”
has lost some of its power and beauty, because we have ceased to value God’s
gracious gifts enough share them with others. This Psalm begins and ends with
the words: “Praise the Lord! Is that a command? Is it a directive or an invitation?
Is that a summons to action? However we interpret it, it places the emphasis
back on God, who is the Giver of every good gift – which we are called to share.

Creative pause: Do I take my gifts of God’s blessedness for granted?

1 From “Together in Song” #454
“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness..”
Words by John Samuel Bewley Monsell
Words are in the Public Domain

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).

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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