A Call to Worship
After Epiphany 4C [Ordinary 4C] 2016
Psalm 71: 1-6

God, you are our rock and our fortress: in our need, we come now to you.
You are as immovable as a large rock and a centre of peace in our troubles.

God, you are our hiding place and security: we come to you with our fears.
You have always been a place of refuge and sanctuary in times of struggle.

God, you alone are our hope: and we trust in you, as we come to worship
you; and as we bring our needs and fears to you for guidance and blessing.
Trustworthy God, you alone are the One True God, and we pray that you be
for us now that which you have always been for us, in our good and bad times.
It is no wonder that we always end up singing your praises and giving thanks! Amen.

Psalm 71: 1-6

1 O LORD, I have come to you for protection;
don’t let me be disgraced.
2 Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right.
Turn your ear to listen to me, and set me free.

3 Be my rock of safety where I can always hide.
Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked,
from the clutches of cruel oppressors.

5 O Lord, you alone are my hope.
I’ve trusted you, O LORD, from childhood.
6 Yes, you have been with me from birth;
from my mother’s womb you have cared for me.
No wonder I am always praising you!

Prayers of Petition and Trust
After Epiphany 4C [Ordinary 4C] 2016
Psalm 71: 1-6

God of infinite mercy and compassion, in our need we come to you seeking
the assurance of your presence with us, as an unmovable rock and a strong
fortress that offers us God’s peace, in the midst of life’s storms that threaten
to shatter us. Unshakable God, be for us now the One you have always been
for us, the Holy One on whom we can always rely as individuals and as a faith
community. In the past, you have always saved us in our times of need; and
you have always blessed us with justice and grace whenever we call out to you.
In confident trust and hope we again come to you with our troubles and fears,
asking that you fulfil all your promises and that you be true to your Holy Name.

Dependable and Faithful God, you are our hiding place - our safe and secure
place of deliverance and refuge; our sanctuary where we can find peace in the
presence of God. We give thanks for the many times you have responded to our
cries for help and guidance; when we have been content to leave the results of
our fears and anxieties safely with God’s listening ear and trusted guiding hands.

God, the Hope of the nations and their peoples, and you are the Trust of all who
put their present and future in God’s hands. Many of us have known this sense
of security and trust in God since childhood, and for this great blessing, we give
our thanks; and many of us are new to the faith journey with God, and we have yet
to build a personal history of our relationship with God. We ask, O God, that for
those who have many years of faith in God; together with those whose faith is new
and fresh, may we be always able to say and pray: be for us now what you have
always been – a Steady Rock; a Hiding Place; and a Refuge where we can hide
and be safe in God’s Holy Presence; and be for us now our Hope and our Home. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
After Epiphany 4C [Ordinary 4C] 2016
Psalm 71: 1-6

This psalm is the pleading prayer of an older person who has dedicated his life to
living by God’s teachings; and who has experienced the reality of God’s presence
with him in all circumstances of life. It is those very experiences of God that give
him hope, when all seems hopeless. I love that sentence: “...Be my rock of safety
where I can always hide…”
Various translations change those words slightly to say:
“Be to me” or “Be for me my rock of safety where I can always hide…” which I think
strengthens even more that message of hope and trust in God. Sometimes we pray
for rescue or release from circumstances, but with a wavering faith and hope; but if
we ask God to “…Be for me my rock of safety where I can always hide…” that hope
is grounded on the “Someone” who is real, strong, reliable and always there for them!

Creative pause: “Be for me my rock of safety where I can always hide”

The psalmist prayed: “... don’t let me be disgraced...” What was the ‘disgrace’ that
he feared? Was he frightened that he would not be faithful to the teachings of his long
life; and that he would not be a good example to his faith community; or was it a more
personal fear for his own physical safety? In faith and trust he also prayed: “…Turn your
ear to listen to me, and set me free…”
Was he praying for God to set him free from his
fears, so that he could be strong and could trust in God’s listening and attentive ear?
Professor Walter Brueggemann writes: “The petitioner in Psalm 71 has been taught
for a lifetime that YHWH is the covenant God who delivers and creates a community
that makes possible wholeness of life. It is in this God and this covenant relationship
that the speaker trusts and hopes. The petition is that God will bring to fruition precisely
these covenant promises that the faith tradition has taught. In this way, the petition
seeks to integrate lived experience and the received faith tradition. It operates out of
the hope that this faith will become reality for this one who has been faithful for a
lifetime... This petition is part of the honest dialogue that nurtures that relationship...”

Creative pause: Trusting in a lifetime of experiencing God’s own faithfulness.

Hope is a challenging word. To have ‘hope’ suggests one expects or even confidently
believes that the desired outcome will be fulfilled; and that there are reliable grounds
for that sense of expectation. ‘Hope’ can also be a belief in a being, person or thing
that is trustworthy. The psalmist claimed in faith and trust: “...O Lord, you alone are my
When the usual day-to-day props that we rely upon are knocked from under
us, that is when we need to fall back on the belief in a being, person or things that
have grounded us all our life and given our life meaning. For the psalmist, that was God!

Creative pause: “...O Lord, you alone are my hope…”

1 Text by Professor Walter Brueggemann
& William H Bellinger Junior from “Psalms”
Psalm 71, page 310/11
© 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 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:
© 2016 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year C. Used with permission.


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