Listening God: we gather together as we lament over our shared despair.
A Call to Worship
Easter 3B 2018
We gather together to pray: “Lead me to hope… oh, lead me to hope I pray…”1
Responding God: we come to you when we are numb with fear and despair.
In our trusting need we pray: “Lead me to faith…oh, lead me to faith I pray…”1
Reacting God: we celebrate that through your generosity and love, you have
offered us all “unrivalled joy,”2 and God has indeed blessed our trust and hope.
In joy-filled celebrations, we gather together to praise and thank our God for
the merciful blessings we have received from God, who heard our cries for help. Amen.
For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be accompanied by stringed instruments.
1 Answer me when I call to you, O God who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
2 How long will you people ruin my reputation?
How long will you make groundless accusations?
How long will you continue your lies? Interlude
3You can be sure of this: The LORD set apart the godly for himself.
The LORD will answer when I call to him.
4 Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
Think about it overnight and remain silent. Interlude
5 Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the LORD.
6 Many people say, “Who will show us better times?”
Let your face smile on us, LORD.
7 You have given me greater joy
than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.
8 In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe.
Prayers of Lament and Petition
Listening God: we gather together as we lament over our shared despair; and so
Easter 3B 2018
we gather together to pray: “Lead me to hope… oh, lead me to hope, I pray…”1
We come to you with our hearts stripped bare with numbness; with our regrets, and
with a level of disillusionment with life; and with the world in which we live. We have
struggled to serve you and our neighbour – as we are instructed – but we now are no
nearer to finding the answers to our problems and fears. Give us hope for a better
future, we pray; so that we can keep going with your work, and finding some purpose
for the work we believe you call us to fulfil in your name. So, lead us to a deeper hope
that you promised to us, through your Holy Presence with us; every step of our days.
Responding God: we come to you because our fears have grown out of proportion to
our situation. We can’t seem to see beyond those fears that block out the warmth of
your smile upon us; and we stumble through the bleakness of our sense of lost vision
and perspective. We know that you hear our prayers and respond in love to our cries—
but please, Holy God, “…free us from our troubles. Have mercy on us and hear our
prayer…” Through your gracious love, wipe away the weight of our troubles so that
once again we may be your faithful community of faith; “…lead me to faith, I pray…”1
Reacting God: we celebrate that through your generosity and love, you have offered us
all “unrivalled joy,”2 and God has indeed blessed us with hope and faith. We dare to
call your Holy Presence with us a ‘reaction’ on your part - to our needs and our prayers.
And so, O God, we individually and collectively pray, that you will “…Lead me to love,
oh, lead me to love…” so that we will know your peace that stifles fears; that takes the
heat out of our despair; and warms up our numb hearts and minds. In joyous celebrations,
we gather together to praise and thank our God for the gracious blessings we all have
received from God, who heard our cries for help; and who brought us faith and love to share. Amen.
A Personal Meditation
Compare the first two verses of Psalm 4 (see above) with the Voice translation: “Answer
Easter 3B 2018
my prayers, O True God, the righteous, who makes me right. I was hopelessly surrounded,
and you rescued me. Once again hear me; hide me in your favour; bring victory in defeat
and hope in hopelessness…”2 As usual, Professor Walter Brueggemann adds wisdom
to these words: “…These prayers of complaint are, in the final analysis, acts of hope. They
believe and assume that the present circumstances of trouble will not endure. These
speakers expect God to change such circumstances and believe that they are entitled to
such change… By the end of the psalm, we are assured that God has heard, and God has
acted, and well-being has been restored… While we should be glad for the lingering residue
of Israel’s laments, we should, even more than that, be grateful for these scripts and models
of prayer that stake everything on full covenantal honesty in the presence of God. Such daring honesty, at God’s throne of mercy, is the only route to transformative well-being…”3 This
lament is indeed a cry of hope as the psalmist sang: “…You can be sure of this: The LORD
set apart the godly for himself. The LORD will answer when I call to him… trust the LORD…”
|Creative pause:||Do you ever pray: “Bring hope in my hopelessness”?|
I grew up living very close to a large railway station that serviced large areas of my state,
and during the wheat harvesting season, we frequently had very long trains filled with wheat,
making their slow way to the silos on the coast for overseas transportation. There was a very
steep hill just past the station, and during the night, I used to listen to the trains labouring up
that hill, as they never had sufficient speed up to manage that climb with ease. As I listened
to the train engines struggling, I used to recite that old poem: “The little engine that could”
written by Watty Piper: “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can …”, until eventually the majority
of the train was over that hill; then I would say: “I knew I could, I knew I could..” as it thundered
off into the distance. To me, I learned early in my life, that concept was the true reality of hope.
|Creative pause:||How strong is your sense of hope in God’s goodness?|
In response to that hope in God, the psalmist sang with glee: “Let your brilliant face shine
upon us, O Eternal One, that we may know the undeniable answer. You have filled me with
joy, and happiness has risen in my heart ,great delight and unrivalled joy, even more than
when bread abounds and wine flows freely. Tonight, I will sleep securely on a bed of peace
because I trust you, you alone, O Eternal One, will keep me safe.”2 “Unrivalled joy” as it was
expressed, was of a joy like no other ever known to the psalmist; and when it was added to
“great delight” – arising from a sense of frustration and disappointment - we can understand
something of the overwhelming pleasure God’s response created deep within the psalmist!
|Creative pause:||“Lead me to hope, oh lead me to hope, lead me to hope I pray…”1|
1 “Uniting in Song” 9.14
“Lead me to hope, oh lead me to hope’
Words by Peter Kearney
©1986 Crossover Music
Used with Permission,
Word of Life International licence #2425.
2 Psalm 4: 1, 6b-8
“The Voice” Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc.
The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society
All rights reserved.
3 Text by Professor Walter Brueggemann
from “From whom no secrets are hid”
Chapter 8, pages 91-93
© 2014 Westminster/John Knox Press
Louisville Kentucky USA
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 help and inspiration so frequently available from the writings of Professor Walter Brueggemann and Professorial brothers Rolf and Karl Jacobson; and the resources from "The Text this Week" (Textweek).
If the Prayers and/or Meditation are used in shared worship, please provide this acknowledgement:
© 2018 Joan Stott –‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year B. Based on verses from Psalm 4.
Used with permission.
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