A Call to Worship
After Epiphany 4A [Ordinary 4A] 2017
Psalm 15

“Oh, the joys of those who delight in the law of the Lord… meditating on it...”1
Welcoming God, we come with awe into your Holy Presence to worship you.

“Oh, the joys of those who delight in the law of the Lord… meditating on it...”1
Transforming God, we come as forgiven children to praise our Heavenly Father.

“Oh, the joys of those who delight in the law of the Lord… meditating on it...
They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season…”
The Holy One, God Eternal, we come renewed and refreshed to celebrate the
glories of our God, who guides and blesses on our life-long pilgrimage of faith. 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 gossip or harm their neighbours
or speak evil of their friends.
4 Those who despise flagrant sinners,
and honour the faithful followers of the Lord,
and keep their promises even when it hurts.
5 Those who lend money without charging interest,
and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.
Such people will stand firm forever.

Prayers of Thankfulness and Petition
After Epiphany 4A [Ordinary 4A] 2017
Psalm 15

With delight and joy, we come to worship our God as we celebrate the mercy
and goodness God has gifted to us, along with the privilege of being able to
worship God in our own sacred space; as together, we faithfully and joyfully
worship and praise our Generous God. We celebrate and give thanks for the
blessing of God’s forgiveness of our sin and foolishness; and for offering us
the opportunity for a fresh start in our faith journey. We ask for God’s help
and blessing as we try to be faithful to our vows of commitment to God, and
to each other; and we ask for help so that we may faithfully pray for our ministers
and leaders; and for each of the members of this our own faith community; and
may we always be sensitive in our outreach to people who are less fortunate.

Welcoming God, we come with awe into your Holy Presence to worship you.
You have transformed us and helped us to recognise that we are your beloved
children, and that together, we are members of God’s family. Holy Father of the
fatherless, we pray for people who have lost their way in life; who have cast
aside all the teachings of their childhood, in favour of the false and isolating
teachings of this world; and who wander through life without any purpose or joy.
Reveal yourself to these people, we pray, in ways that speak to their needs and
isolation; and may we through your guidance, do what we can to serve them.

Revealing God, help each of us to discern the path in life that will lead us all to the
fulfilment of the vision of your Kingdom here on earth; help us to grow in faith, hope
and trust as we follow your way of right living and to make wise and non-judgemental
decisions. All praise and thanks be to God for people who have guided and prayed
for us as we matured; and who have inspired within us a desire to love and serve
our God in ways that are expressions of the unique gifts has bestowed upon us, both
as individuals, and as a gathered community of faith here in this place and this time.
May we together, celebrate “...the joys of those who delight in the law of the LORD...”1 Amen.

A Personal Meditation
After Epiphany 4A [Ordinary 4A] 2017
Psalm 15

A first glance reading of Psalm 15 is a very discouraging and even depressing
experience! The parallel style of writing the initial question makes it even worse!
“Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD? Who may enter your presence on
your holy hill..?”
In response I feel compelled to justify myself with these questions:
How many people lead blameless lives? How many people always do the right
thing, and who never gossip or denigrate people? How many people are above
criticising overt and deliberate sinfulness; and admire people too good to be true?
How many people are above trying to make shonky deals and taking advantage
of naive people? But the words that echo through my mind drowning out those
questions is the parable Jesus told of two men who went to the Temple pray: “...the
tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he
prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for
I am a sinner…’”
2 What hope would any of us have without the grace of our God?

Creative pause: O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner…’”2

The psalm poses the question: “Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who
may enter your presence on your holy hill..?”
Professor Walter Brueggemann
writes about these questions: “...Behind the question is the understanding of
sanctuary/temple as a place of divine presence that is both threat and promise
of life, so the question is about who might receive the gift of hospitality from this
powerful, life-giving presence. The question emphasises the interrogative ‘Who?’
and so suggests that it is about identity issues...
[that] stretch all the way back to
Psalm 1; and its portrayal of the faithful as those who follow not the advice of the
wicked but God’s Torah... Those who are prepared for worship, act and speak in
a manner in line with their connection to YHWH... Psalm 15 understands YHWH
to be both holy and available, and to be one who gives guidance in preparing for
worship and in living in Israel’s covenant community. The hope at the end of the
psalm is a hope based on God’s life-giving presence in worship in the sanctuary...”

Creative pause: Are in you “in line” with your connection to God, the Holy One?

Whilst the psalms opening questions relate to ethical living and practices; they
are also about our commitment to and preparation for worshipping God, and what
we bring with us as baggage when we come into God’s Holy Presence to worship
the Holy One. Do we carry our so-called “baggage” into God’s Presence, or do we
leave it at the door of the sanctuary? Jesus answer to the repentant sinner could
help answer that question for us. Jesus said: “...I tell you, this sinner…returned home
justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those
who humble themselves will be exalted…”
2 It seems to me that we are in a “right”
relationship with God when our commitment and preparation for worshipping God
includes emptying ourselves of all that could separate us from the worship of God;
and receiving God’s forgiveness before we enter into our acts of worshipping God.

Creative pause: Jesus said: “...I tell you, this sinner…returned home justified before God.2

1 Psalm 1: 1a, 2b, 3a (NLT)

2 Luke 18: 13, 14 (NLT)

3 Text by Professor Walter Brueggemann & William H Bellinger Junior from “Psalms”
Psalm 15, pages 83 & 84 © 2014 Cambridge University Press

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 inspiration available from the scholarship and 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:
© 2017 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year A. Used with permission.


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