God of all peoples: we come to join with all creation in praising our God.
A Call to Worship
Easter 6A 2017
Psalm 66: 8-20
“Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth! Sing about the glory of his name..!”1
Welcoming God: we come to offer our thankful prayers and praises to God.
We come to celebrate the awesome miracles through which God blesses us!
Steadfast God: we come to worship God as individuals and as a community
of faith, to give thanks that our individual and shared lives are in God hands.
We come, to give thanks that even in the rough places of life, that our Guiding
God holds us steady, so that we do not stumble or fail in our life’s pilgrimage. Amen.
Psalm 66: 8-20
For the choir director: A song. A psalm.
8 Let the whole world bless our God and loudly sing his praises.
9 Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling.
10 You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver.
11 You captured us in your net
and laid the burden of slavery on our backs.
12 Then you put a leader over us. We went through fire and flood,
but you brought us to a place of great abundance.
13 Now I come to your Temple with burnt offerings
to fulfil the vows I made to you—
14 yes, the sacred vows that I made when I was in deep trouble.
15 That is why I am sacrificing burnt offerings to you—
the best of my rams as a pleasing aroma,
and a sacrifice of bulls and male goats.
16 Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me.
17 For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke.
18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the LORD would not have listened.
19 But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.
20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
Prayers of Thankfulness and Praise
God of all peoples: today we come to join with all creation in singing our praises
Easter 6A 2017
Psalm 66: 8-20
to our God; and as individuals, we come to offer our thanks for all God’s blessings
and the signs of God’s great mercies towards each of us. As the psalmist sang:
“...Let the whole world bless our God and loudly sing his praises...”; and not only
are we singing, but we are also praying to God, offering our heartfelt thanks for
all of life’s blessings. We come too, to acknowledge that whilst we were upset in
our times of stress and strain; that they were times of learning and growing for us—
and that even through that pain, struggle and uncertainty, we were conscious of
God holding us firmly in the palm of God’s hand and guiding our feet, so that we
did not stumble or fall. So today, we gladly “...Sing about the glory of his name..!”1
Welcoming God: we come today to celebrate the awesome miracles through which
God blesses us; and we offer our thankful prayers and praises to God for all these
signs of God’s presence with us, above, below, behind, ahead and beside us; so
that no matter what happens to us in life, we are surrounded and upheld by God’s
grace, mercy and steadfast love. We give thanks for answered prayers, when we
have trusted God to hear our prayers and to guide us through times of turmoil and
sorrow; and that through these struggles, we have come to better understand the
“means of grace” through which God blesses us. All thanks and praise be to God!
Forgiving God: we come to make our confessions to you, because we know we
have sinned and failed to be whom you created us to be. In our sin, we have been
separated from you, and therefore, we have stopped seeing and experiencing the
signs of our loving presence with us; whether we wanted you there with us or not—
you were still there, supporting us! We praise and celebrate our God’s generosity,
in that God did not ever ignore our prayers, or withdraw God’s unfailing from us.
“…Tell the world how glorious he is. Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds!’”1 Amen.
A Personal Meditation
The psalmist sang a song of praise to God, calling on all creation to join him in
Easter 6A 2017
Psalm 66: 8-20
celebrating “loudly” the wonders of God’s care and love for the people of Israel.
The psalmist also celebrated the tough times in their long history as the people
of God, when because of their wayward behaviour, they were tested and found
to be at fault. “...You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver....”
Silver was the first of the ‘precious metals’ to be discovered and it is the least
‘special’ and lightest in weight of those precious metals; but it also has unique
qualities, because of its lustrous colour; the fact that it is very easily ‘worked’ or
manipulated into various shapes or styles; and it is quite resistant to corrosion
from moisture and oxygen. In Ezekiel 22:17-22, we read of God’s threat to the
people of Israel, and how in God’s eyes; they were like the dross left over from
the purification processes of precious metals; “...Just as silver, copper, iron, lead,
and tin are melted down in a furnace, I will melt you down in the heat of my fury.
I will gather you together and blow the fire of my anger upon you, and you will
melt like silver in fierce heat…”2 As the psalmist noted, they had truly been tested.
|Creative pause:||How do you respond to ‘testing’ times?|
The second method of testing that the people of Israel experienced is described
in this psalm thus: “...You captured us in your net..” I assume that the ‘net’ is the
fowlers net or snare, used to trap birds for food, or for their feathers. The very best
fowlers used sophisticated decoys as part of their placement of hidden traps; and
the baits that were used varied according to the type of bird being sought. The nets
or traps were very adaptable in size and style, and were set in great secrecy. If a
captured bird managed to escape, often the fowler released a trained hawk to bring
it down. The psalmist sang a length about what “you” – God - had done to and for
the people of Israel; although God grieved over Israel’s wayward drifting away from
the worship and praise of God. In response to that wayward drifting, God tested them
like purified silver; and then in the “net” of slavery in Egypt. But God acted in response
to the sorrowing cries of the people of Israel in their slavery when: “...you put a leader
over us. We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance...”
The psalmist then changed from a community reaction to a personal response to
God’s goodness: “...Now I come to your Temple with burnt offerings to fulfil the vows
I made to you...” The psalmist confessed his sin, offered sacrifices, and was blessed.
|Creative pause:||The blessings of God’s forgiveness after confessed sin!|
The psalmist sang with his community: “...Let the whole world bless our God and loudly
sing his praises. Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling... Then
the psalmist made his own testimony: “...Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I
will tell you what he did for me.... Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw
his unfailing love from me.” I find it very challenging when a community decides that any
so-called ‘condemned’ sinner must be deprived of the “means of grace”, and to so learn
a lesson! Those “means of grace” are the Christian disciplines that bless us with God’s
grace, including Holy Communion, Baptism and the reading and hearing of the Scriptures.
It is as important for a community to confess its sin as it is for an individual to confess that
they have sinned; but is it up to a faith community to be both the judge and jury in this way?
|Creative pause:||Praise God, who did not ...withdraw his unfailing love from me.”|
1 Psalm 66:1, 2b-3a (NLT)
2 Ezekiel 22: 20-22a (NLT)
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:
© 2017 Joan Stott –‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year A. Based on verses from Psalm 66: 8-20.
Used with permission.
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