A Call to Worship
Epiphany 4A [Ordinary 4A] 2014
Psalm 15

As we gather to worship the God of all eternity, we ask:
“Dare we come before God? Have we been living faithfully?”
Holy God, we are blessed with God’s joy as we worship
you; yet we have misgivings about our own worthiness!

As we gather to worship the God of all beauty, we ask:
“Dare we come before God? Have we shared God’s grace?”
Holy God, we are blessed with God’s gracious mercy as
we witness to you; but do we always trust in God’s guidance?

As we gather to worship the God of all love and compassion,
we ask: “Dare we come before God? And what is there within
us that encourages our response to our Redeeming God’s love?”

Holy God, we are all blessed with God’s forgiving compassion—
and so we commit ourselves to worshipping God; to witnessing
to God’s glory; and to serving God and the world - where we are. Amen.

Psalm 15
A psalm of David.

1 Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD?
Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?

2 Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,
speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
3 Those who refuse to slander others or harm their neighbours
or speak evil of their friends.
4 Those who despise persistent sinners,
and honour the faithful followers of the LORD and keep their promises
even when it hurts.
5 Those who do not charge interest on the money they lend,
and who refuse to accept bribes to testify against the innocent.
Such people will stand firm forever.

Prayers of Confession and Petition
Epiphany 4A [Ordinary 4A] 2014
Psalm 15

“Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence
on your holy hill…?
Ever-Present God, our hope is in you as we yearn to be
in your holy presence, and to receive your merciful forgiveness. We know we
have failed to be whom you created us to be and to become; and we ask that
you accept our confessions of remorse and regret. If our acceptance by God
rested on our own abilities or even our desires to be in God’s presence, we
would always fail; but because of God’s gracious and generous mercy we are
instead ,welcomed as God’s “beloved” - people who despite all our failures—
have promised ourselves and God, to seek to always worship and honour God.1

“Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence
on your holy hill…?
Nurturing God, we your children have been given many
guides to moral and spiritual behaviour, and we give thanks for these; and we
also take note of the Psalmist’s list of unacceptable living. Comforting God, we
ask you to forgive us our failures to understand the joyful and yet disturbing
possibilities of living every day in God’s presence! We pray that you will help
us equate those ancient words to our daily living and the quality of life lived out
in a community that values, respects and understands wisdom and shared grace—
a community in which God’s presence is celebrated as central to all its activities.

“Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on
your holy hill…?
Generous God, we ask - be for us a guide to living a repentant life—
a life of confession, acceptance of forgiveness and restoration; and be for us this
day, a guide to generosity of spirit so that our thoughts, words and actions as just,
and have integrity in your sight. Today, we seek the blessings of the lavishness
of God’s love as we strive to obey God’s commands for wholesome community life. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Epiphany 4A [Ordinary 4A] 2014
Psalm 15

Psalm 14 lists the things that separate people from God, and who’s sin-filled
lives act as a deterrent to their seeking out God’s presence or God’s mercy;
and who deliberately choose to disassociate themselves from all God’s faithful
peoples. The next Psalm - 15 - lists the behaviour and attitudes of people
who are welcome on God’s holy hill, and who are people who will “...stand
firm forever...”
> Yet what does it mean to be “blameless”? Normally, it means
that someone has made a judgement of another person’s character or moral
behaviour, with the “judged” person refused the option of input in that decision.
This type of “blamelessness” was usually of a moral rather than of a spiritual
status. The Old Testament concept of being “blameless” was associated with
the description of an animal used as the sacrifice for a sin-offering. The pure
or blameless animal was then judged “good enough” to be sacrificed to God.

Creative pause: “Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?”

In my country – as in many others - we have become used to living within the
patterns of what is seen as acceptable behaviour. When we drive or ride on
our roads we have set speed limits; breathalyser and saliva swab tests that
check for excessive use of alcohol and drugs; and roadside symbols and road
rules to help us be “law-abiding” citizens. In our community life, we also have
laws which govern relationships, behaviour, and what is acceptable neighbourly
activities. Even in our “church”, there are rules and regulations about the way
“church” should be conducted, with varying degrees of restrictions placed on
some activities. Yet these are all “social” aspects of our behaviour, and little to
do with our “spiritual” behaviour or activities. There are usually stewards who
welcome us to church, but rarely do they ever question our “right” to be there—
as least I hope not! Is Psalm 15 another “test” to see who was worthy to enter
their sacred space, for the privilege of worshipping the God of all compassion?

Creative pause: “Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?”

Perhaps the only real “test” we need to “take” is when we come to God with our
prayers of confession, and ask God to help us overcome a sin-filled life? Do we,
like King David, pray: “...Keep me from deliberate sins! Don't let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin...”
2 At times, I wonder whether
a more appropriate prayer for each and all of us would be: “Lord, please keep me
from casual sinning, when I do not know, think about, understand or even recognize
the sinfulness of my thoughts or words; my pettiness, my discrimination, or my pride.”

Creative pause: Which prayer would you pray – King David’s or the other one?

1 Based on Exodus 20: 6 (NLT)
2 Psalm 19: 13 (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).

I acknowledge and give heartfelt thanks for the theological inspiration available from the 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:
© 2014 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year A. Used with permission.


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