Surely God is here! There can be no doubt about the presence of our God!
A Call to Worship
Lent 1A 2014
How blessed are we who are honest about our sin, and confess it all to God.
Surely God is here! There can be no doubt about the reality of our God!
How blessed is the joy we experience when we receive God’s forgiveness!
Surely God is here! Because our God’s forgiving and renewing presence
is being experienced right now, by people who know the joy of being forgiven!
How blessed are those who accept God's promise: "…I will guide you along
the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you….”
We celebrate as forgiven people, because we have been obedient to the Lord! Amen.
A psalm of David.
1 Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!
2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
3 When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long.
4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them.
I said to myself, "I will confess my rebellion to the LORD."
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
6 Therefore, let all the godly confess their rebellion to you
while there is time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
7 For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory.
8 The LORD says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
9 Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control."
10 Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the LORD.
11 So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!
Prayers of Penitence and Thankfulness
“Come, let us to the Lord our God with contrite hearts return; our God is
Lent 1A 2014
gracious, nor will leave the desolate to mourn…Our hearts, if God we
seek to know, shall know him and rejoice…. his presence bless our souls…”1
Yes, God is here with us, ready and willing to forgive us our sin, if we but
recognise and confess the sin that weighs us down; and which diminishes
our shared life and our relationships. As a community of faith, we confess
with sorrow that we have sinned against each other, and against our God—
who continues to be our Creator, Sustainer, Renewer and Infinite Redeemer.
“God himself is present, let us now adore him......., as with awe we come before
him... Him we know, him we name... let us make him our renewed surrender...”2
Transforming God, in humble gratitude and with sincere thankfulness, we come
into your holy presence, giving thanks that when temptation strikes any of us—
as it surely does individually and collectively - we may gain strength as we hide
within God’s ever-present Being. Then, together with God, we can celebrate the
defeat of that temptation that followed us into our worship. Loving God, it is a
sobering thought when we realise that temptation is present even as we come
to worship God! Healing God, we ask that you journey with us every day and night—
strengthening and empowering us to overcome our stubborn resistance, and to
accept the grace and mercy of God, that is available to all who seek God’s help.
“God himself is present...Lord, make me your dwelling, let my heart and spirit
be for you an earthly temple: come, Immediate Being, my whole life illumine...2
Abiding God, we give thanks for your ever-faithful presence that always inspires
and encourages us to continue together on our faith journey; especially when we
have been broken-hearted or distressed by disaster, tragedy or any of the other
problems and challenges that are all part of our human life and living. We ask that
you continue to accept all our burdens of fear and pain and give us healing; so that
we may always worship and praise you with a life that is wholesome and free from
the stains of sin, selfishness, greed and pride. We also give thanks for the way you
have encouraged us to come to you with our feelings of guilt and regret - and that
you have taken that heavy load away from us, so that we may freely walk with God.
“God himself is present.... Him we know, him we name... so I’ll always praise and
love you, so wherever I may be - there I may perceive you, ever bow before you...”2 Amen.
A Personal Meditation
A few years ago, I attended a workshop on grief, loss and regrets, and despite
Lent 1A 2014
it being an excellent event, I remember clearly only one thing the leader said:
She asked: “Where in your body do you physically hurt when you experience
the strong emotions of grief, loss, pain, anger etc?” Everyone knew what she
meant, as they all grasped their “middle”! Yes - we speak about “gut reactions”—
and that is exactly what and where we most experience grief, loss and regrets—
as our “middle” becomes all cramped up with anxious or scary feelings. Sin, and
regret for past sin usually has a similar effect on the human body, unless that sin
is so habitual, that the associated feelings can be lost in amongst many other
conflicting and “gut-wrenching” emotions. In effect – sin can cripple us for life!
|Creative pause:||Is a “gut-feeling” a positive or negative clue to your inner health?|
God has created in humanity a deep need for relationships with other people,
even with animals and birds; but within each of us, there is a special need for
God. Many people deny this all their lives, even those brought up “within the
church” - but that does not alter the fact that this is fundamentally true. Each of
us need to be together, to communicate with each other – be it with words, actions
or silences. We also need to be in living relationship with God - again be it through
words, silences or actions. Some people demonstrate their commitment to God
and to humanity through their community activities; regardless, how we each live
out our personal relationship with God it is best expressed by our openness with
God. To each of us, the reality of God’s presence is defined by that openness,
whether it is through words, silence; or through listening for God’s guidance; it is
only as we open ourselves up before God, that our truest humanity is expressed.
|Creative pause:||Openness before God is essential for healthy living.|
However and wherever we understand or know God’s presence is with or even within
us, it is crucial that we acknowledge and “know” the reality that God is indeed with us.
On a “YouTube” presentation by the Rev Dr Walter Brueggemann, he spoke about
the three phases that lead to a new awareness of the ever-abiding presence of God.
The first of the three was “candour”, whilst I used the word openness”; then there was
“yielding”; next came “asking”; which culminated in the recognition God’s presence
with us - or as Brueggemann named it – God’s “steadfast love”. The Psalmist reminded
us of his struggle with owning up to his sinfulness, but when he finally “yielded” to his
own need to confess to God - he received God’s promise: "…I will guide you along the
best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you… So rejoice in the Lord
and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure…!”
|Creative pause:||Yielding to God opens up to us so many possibilities!|
1 The Methodist Hymn-Book #342 - 1933 Edition
“Come. let us to the Lord our God”
Words by John Morison 1750-1798
Words are in the Public Domain
2 Together in Song #121
“God himself is present”
Words by Gerhard Tersteegen.
Translated by Honor Mary Thwaites © M.R. Thwaites
Used with personal permission.
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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