A Call to Worship
Christmas Day (i) Year A 2013
Psalm 97

In awed wonder, we see creation bow down before God, the King of Creation.
The Lord our God is King! All creation trembles before the Creator’s powers.

In awed amazement, we share in humanity’s reaction to God’s Sovereign glory.
The Lord our God is King! Justice and mercy are the foundations of God’s throne.

In awed reverence we come, because we have heard and know of God’s justice—
and together we offer our thanks and praise to God’s holy and righteous name.
The light and joy of God’s delight shines on all who seek to love and worship God!
The Lord our God is King and reigns supreme! Let the earth and all creation rejoice! Amen

Psalm 97

1 The LORD is king! Let the earth rejoice! Let the farthest islands be glad.
2 Clouds and darkness surround him.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

3 Fire goes forth before him and burns up all his foes.
4 His lightning flashes out across the world.
The earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.
6 The heavens declare his righteousness; every nation sees his glory.

7 Those who worship idols are disgraced –
all who brag about their worthless gods -- for every god must bow to him.
8 Jerusalem has heard and rejoiced, and all the cities of Judah
are glad because of your justice, LORD!
9 For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.

10 You who love the LORD, hate evil!
He protects the lives of his people
and rescues them from the power of the wicked.
11 Light shines on the godly, and joy on those who do right.
12 May all who are godly be happy in the LORD,
and praise his holy name!

Prayers of Praise and Thankfulness
Christmas Day (i) Year A 2013
Psalm 97

We gather to celebrate the good news that the Lord our God is King
and reigns supreme over all things! We also gather to honour and praise
our God whose gracious mercy is shown in the protection of marginalised
and innocent people; whose tender care ensures that the light of God’s
righteousness and justice shine on all who faithfully respond to our God;
and that even the smallest and poorest of islands rejoice in their own life
and creation, especially because they too are all part of God’s royal and
eternal reign of Sovereign grace, justice, mercy, nurture peace and love.
“May all who are godly be happy in the Lord, and praise his holy name!”

We acknowledge that our own praises of God are nothing in comparison
to the spectacular efforts of all creation as they exuberantly praise their
Creating God; as fire leaps and dances before the Lord; with brilliant light—
lightning flashes celebrate God’s Royalty, while thunder rumbles and claps in
applause for God’s holy and creative powers; and the very foundations of the
earth tremble before the wonders of our Gracious God and King. We share in
the celebrations as the very highest of mountains bow down in reverent awe
before the King of Creation; and as the heavens present their magnificent
wonders in honour of the Almighty God; who is worshipped by all of creation.
May all creation honour and celebrate the King, and praise his holy name!

Eternal God and King, we join with all humanity in celebrating the glories of
our God and King! We are not among the favoured few from ancient villages
or towns in the Holy Land who heard and knew of God’s justice, mercy and
gracious blessings! However, we all rejoice together because we too know
and have experienced the Lord’s mercy and justice! We give our praises to
God the King who has promised that all people who seek to worship, honour
and serve the Lord their God and King, will know and experience the bright light
of God’s eternal favour, but will also know God’s measureless peace and joy.
“May all who are godly be happy in the Lord, and praise his holy name!” Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Christmas Day (i) Year A 2013
Psalm 97

“....You who love the Lord, hate evil! ............ Light shines on the godly,
and joy on those who do right. May all who are godly be happy in the
Lord, and praise his holy name!”
According to this Psalm, people who
are “godly” are those who “love God” and “do what is right”, and who
“hate the powers of evil”. Yet, there are many, many good citizens who
“do what is right”, and who “hate the powers of evil”, yet who appear to
have no religious affiliations. Is the real key to being “godly” the fact that
people need to have a deep love and knowledge of their God? Is it their
daily celebration and practice of the justice of the Lord? Is it to accept that
they are part of God’s gracious Covenant relationship? If that is so, that
means they express their love for God through their “right” living, and
through their support and empowering of people who are marginalised.

Creative pause: How “godly” are you in your day to day living?

Whilst the true and holy love of God is the power behind all goodness; the
acceptance and following of “false gods” surely leads to a love of all that
is evil; which is demonstrated through exploitation of the most vulnerable
people, creatures, and the fragile earth’s resources. These “false gods” are
not as described in the “Ten Commandments” - “Do not make idols of any
kind, whether in the shape of birds or animals or fish,”
1 but rather, they
are those characteristics and activities of humanity that dehumanise people,
and which makes them subservient to other people’s wishes or desires;
or which destroys forever the bountiful creation above and below the earth.

Creative pause: Have you any “false gods” that diminish you and/or others?

I am always fascinated by the importance of the sea and water in the Psalms,
and how to the authors, they seem to hold all the mysteries of life and death—
and now the author of Psalm 97 speaks about the farthest islands being
glad because God, the Lord is King; joining in with all the earth as it responds
in joyous celebration of that fact! Whenever I looked at maps of the Holy Land,
logically, most of their knowledge about water could only be from the Jordan
River and the Sea of Galilee, with their nearest island now known as Crete!
If so, their “sea-faring” knowledge limited to the windswept and stormy dangers
of the “Sea” of Galilee. Then the “clouds and darkness” also all add to the mystery
that surrounds, precedes and follows the Sovereign God; all of which declare
that the holy powers of justice and righteousness of God the King are there for
all the world’s nations to experience, as they bow in reverent awe before God.

Creative pause: “The farthest islands” and “clouds and darkness” add to God’s mystery.

1 Exodus 20: 4 (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).

If the Prayers and/or Meditations are used in shared worship, please provide this acknowledgement:
© 2013 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year A. Used with permission.


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