Watching God, we give thanks that you are not restricted to one place or time.
A Call to Worship
Lent 2A 2014
We come together to worship the all-seeing Creator of the heavens and the earth.
Sheltering God, we give thanks that we can rely on your strength and guidance.
We come together to give thanks that God understands our human vulnerability.
Abiding and Trustworthy God, we give thanks and celebrate your nearness, and
your continuing presence with us, as we journey towards our hope and home in you.
We come together to share the knowledge that God is always with us, and that as
individuals or a community, we can trust God’s watching and sheltering presence. Amen.
A song for the ascent to Jerusalem.
1 I look up to the mountains -- does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the LORD, who made the heavens and the earth!
3 He will not let you stumble and fall; the one who watches over you will not sleep.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel never tires and never sleeps.
5 The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not hurt you by day, nor the moon at night.
7 The LORD keeps you from all evil and preserves your life.
8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
Prayers of Trust and Thankfulness
Watching God, we come to worship you with faith and hope in our hearts,
Lent 2A 2014
as we gather to worship and praise you. Unlike the ancient people of Israel
who believed God was restricted to one place – the Temple in Jerusalem—
we know that the Lord our God is a constant presence in our gathered, and
in our individual lives. We trust in God’s presence with us, and we celebrate
with joy the wonders created by “...the Lord, who made the heavens and the
earth…”; and that God watches and blesses over all that God created and
continues to create. We give thanks for these blessings, and that we know to
whom we can go for help and guidance - at any time - not only when trouble
strikes us; and the promise that God will hold us so that we will not stumble.
Sheltering God, you are Strength to people who are weak; a Guide to people
who are lost; you are Hope for people who are vulnerable and feeling exposed
to life’s traumas; you are Comfort to lonely people; and Reassurance to all the
bewildered people who struggle to find a pathway to a full and satisfying life.
We give thanks for the promise that “...The Lord stands beside you as your
protective shade...” - especially when the heat of living and the expectation that
we will continue to act as a responsible human being - when we simply want to
be quiet and still before God, and to just let the world go by, just for a little while.
Abiding and Trustworthy God, we give special thanks for the promised presence
of God that is constant and protective, sheltering us from evil, and being a blessing
to us because of God’s watchful attention in all our comings and goings, both now
and forever! This was not a one-off-for-one-person-only promise, this promise was
given to a community as it travelled through dangerous and even stressful places—
where all that those people believed in was being challenged. Yet, their help and
their hope came from their trust in the Lord their God, the Creator and Sustainer
of the entire universe; so that nothing and no one was beyond God watchful and
sheltering presence; which is so constant that it neither grows weary nor slumbers.
Thank be to this Glorious God, through all the ages past, and through all that comes. Amen.
A Personal Meditation
Many commentators suggest that in ancient and very superstitious times, the hills
Lent 2A 2014
and the hill-country in Israel were the homes of evil spirits or even pagan gods,
often with unspecified powers but which were blamed for any illnesses or misfortunes.
These hill-country spirits/gods needed to be appeased to ensure safe passage
through “their” territory by any travellers. Shrines established for and by travellers
were scattered through the hills that surrounded Jerusalem, and these presented
many difficulties for Jewish pilgrims on their long-anticipated journey to Jerusalem to
worship God in the Temple, and to also join in the various seasonal acts of worship.
Did the pilgrims feel challenged by these symbols of pagan worship? The Psalmist
named the challenges they faced: “I look up to the mountains - does my help come
from there..?” “No!” was the immediate response: “My help comes from the Lord, who
made the heavens and the earth..!” We only worship the One, True, and Holy God!
|What shrines have you erected, and at which you “worship”?
Secure within their own faith, the leader of the pilgrims added his own words that
clarified just who God was, especially in comparison to the spirit-gods of that hill-
country: “.... He will not let you stumble and fall; the one who watches over you will
not sleep. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never tires and never sleeps The Lord
himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.….”
The protective “shade” which God offered and continues to offer us was not an insurance
policy against disaster; rather it is God’s abiding presence that enables any of us to live
with trauma and disaster - as when “bad things” happen to people - and who triumph
over adversity, because they trust in the guidance of their Watching and Sheltering God.
|How much do you trust in our Watching and Sheltering God?
During my annual holiday-time of watching cricket and tennis on TV, I have been was
appalled by the advertising being constantly imposed on viewers, and the interpretations
the advertising various gurus place on what is necessary to give us all our own fullness
of life! The superstitious beliefs of the “unenlightened” people of the Old Testament are
easily understood, but the superstitious beliefs of the so-called sophisticated people of
today are beyond belief! With any hills or mountains, there are inevitably also valleys with
shaded places where the sun never penetrates, and no pathway is ever totally secure or
safe. The concept of the sun not being harmful does not ring true today, as we experience
higher than average temperatures; but being damaged by the moon harks back to ancient
times when it was believed that the moon caused mental illness – thus we have the word
“lunatic” based on the word “lunar”! “…The Lord keeps you from all evil and preserves your
life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever…” God’s
promises remain valid, as we learn from Malachi: "…I am the Lord, and I do not change....”1
|Is faith in God and belief in superstitions an issue for you?
1 Malachi 3: 6a (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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