God our Helper, we come before you, because you are also our great Comforter.
A Call to Worship
Lent 2A 2017
We come to worship you, because no matter where we search, you are there for us.
God our Keeper, we come before you, because you are our only total Security.
We come to praise you, because no matter where we search, your presence is there.
God our Creator, we come before you, because you alone are our Originator and
our only Sustainer; and you are our constant and ever-ready Guide and Companion.
We come to revere and honour you, because no matter where we search, you are our
Creating and Nurturing God, always present with us - if we only recognise you. Amen.
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.
1 I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth!
3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
5 The LORD himself watches over you!
The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
7 The LORD keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The LORD keeps watch over you
as you come and go, both now and forever.
Prayers of Trust
God our Helper, we come before you, because you are also our great Comforter,
Lent 2A 2017
as you offer us healing and hope through your holy presence with us. We give
thanks for the way you are ‘there’ for us to guide and bless us; and that we can
always trust in that guidance and holy presence. We give thanks that we can also
always trust in your steadfast and eternal love that you shower upon us, although
we never deserve such love or mercy. God our Helper, we come before you, because
there is no one else to whom we can go, as you have the gift of life that is lasting—
and which fills us with a holy purpose. Be near to us we pray and help us always.
God our Keeper, we come before you, because you are our only total Security, and
on whom we can always rely for your gifts of blessedness, grace and peace. We
give thanks for ‘keeping’ us within your holy presence; and that your presence can
always be trusted to nurture and inspire us in our worship, praise and commitment
to you and to your coming kingdom amongst us. We pray that you will always help
us to remain faithful to you and your holy ways, and that we may faithfully and loyally
worship and praise you; that we may always serve you and your people all our days.
God our Creator, we come before you, because you alone are our Originator and our
only Sustainer; and you are our constant and ever-ready Guide and Companion. We
give thanks that your plans for all creation and especially for humanity are to live as
one - together in peace and harmony; as we nurture each other and grow together in
love and fellowship. Forgive us when we fail to live out your plans for us; and where
we have failed to care for and nurture all your creation; and when we deliberately hurt
or damaged those special responsibilities you have gifted to us. Ever-Creating God, we
come to revere and honour you, because no matter where we search, you are always
our Creating and Nurturing God, always present with us - if we even recognise you in
our stressful and rushed living. Come to us now, God of all times and places, and live
and grow in us, that we may always be your people serving where you have place us. Amen.
A Personal Meditation
As a teenager, I remember walking up part of Mount Buffalo towards the Chalet
Lent 2A 2017
at its summit. It was a long and slow journey, and especially with strangers; but
since then, it has seemed to me to be symbolic of my own spiritual pilgrimage.
From that experience and time, in my mind’s eye I have always made a definite
connection between my mountain journey to the psalmist’s “Ascent Psalms”,
so-called because it is believed that pilgrims traditionally sang Psalms 120-134 as
they ascended the hills up to the Temple, built on Zion’s or the ‘mountain’s’ plateau.
It was so hot as I walked along so many years ago, that it seemed I was reaching
closer and closer to the sun! Also, I seemed ever nearer to God’s Holy Presence!
My walk was a journey of faith and the hope of being able to worship God in all the
beauty and majesty of those mountains, and to continually grow on my spiritual walk.
Those pilgrims struggled on through the cold and/or heat to joyfully fulfil their awed
response to God’s love, grace and mercy to their forbears, and also to each of them.
|Creative pause:||Do you make personal connections to any of the Psalms?|
Today’s psalm opens with an unusual question: “I look up to the mountains - does
my help come from there…? In this instance, the answer is a definite NO! The
particular “mountains” referred to here are in reality ordinary sized hills. But the
author may have been thinking more generally of other mountains and valleys—
and the dangers that lurked there. In this psalm, its author was reliving a very
familiar event, when pilgrims travelled to the Temple in Jerusalem to make their
offerings and sacrifices – which for many people was an annual event. To reach
that sacred place however, meant travelling through the hiding places of robbers
and rogues, all out to enrich themselves at the expense of the pilgrims. Also
scattered on the route were many religious shrines, where some people paused to
pray to other gods from whom they may gain added security. However, not all pilgrims
were so tempted, because the second verse unambiguously answered that question:
“…My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth..!” The Creating God
alone was the psalmist’s Keeper and Helper for any risks involved worshipping God!
|Creative pause:||Is God your Keeper and your eternal Helper?|
When we reflect further on that first verse, does the question imply that anything
large, grand or awe-inspiring offers us a sense of security and safety? In my ageing
state, I am now reduced to having to visit my neighbours for them to open jars and
bottles for me, and I usually choose people who are large and strong – because I
do not have sufficient strength! How often have you sought help from a strong or
large person when in danger; or you want a task performed about which you are
incapable? As the Creator of all things including aged and strong people; the tiniest
and largest creatures in creation; and the massive heights and shallow valleys that
are scattered throughout creation; God is the Creator of the mountains that hide any
thieves and robbers; as well as the Refuge of the pilgrims on their way to worship
their God. The psalmist poetically describes God who: “... watches over you... never
slumbers or sleeps.... The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade...” God
is our ever-vigilant Keeper, who responds in love, mercy and grace when called upon.
|Creative pause:||From whom do you seek help when in trouble or conflict?|
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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