A Call to Worship
Lent 4A 2014
Psalm 23

Shepherding God, with trusting confidence, we gather now to worship you.
We come with renewed strength and belief in our Shepherd’s guiding ways.

Comforting God, in life’s complex mix, your loving arms are always open to us.
We come with our fears and anxiety quietened, because you are always with us.

Hospitable God, your generosity encourages us to feel welcomed, and to sit
at your table, to be lavishly nurtured and fed with the tender care of our God.
We come to worship our God of steadfast love, fully aware that life is never static—
and that regardless of our situation – our relationship with God is totally secure.
“...your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life...” Amen.

Psalm 23
A psalm of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.

3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk through the dark valley of death,
I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.
You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.

6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.

Prayers of Trust
Lent 4A 2014
Psalm 23

Shepherding God, we come to worship you with trusting confidence, as
we gather now to share in our mutual need to worship you. We come
with renewed strength because God gifts us with that strength, and we
are so grateful for that blessing, especially when troubles follow us each
day. We need and accept God’s shepherding ways to guide us along
life’s pathways. It is as we accept that help from God, that we bring honour
and praise to God, because God’s ways are infinitely wiser than our own
ways - which can direct us in the opposite direction! Today, we choose to
follow God’s leading ways, because they are so trustworthy and reliable.

Comforting God, we admit there are times when life is so complex - with a
mixture of good, bad and flawed options - that we are often tempted to try
out various options, or even to choose the wrong option. However deadly
are those choices, and however fearful and anxious we become, the real
blessing is that our Shepherding God, walks every step of the way with us.
In addition, God provides the tools we need for the journey into unknown
territories. We also admit that we do not always want to fly into the arms of
just anyone as that can lead to disaster; but when we know that God’s loving
arms are always open to us - we cannot wait to find comfort and blessing
there in the security of God’s loving compassion and tender guiding care.

Hospitable God, your generous invitation to sit at your table is so gracious—
regardless of the company with whom we will dine; and you provide us with
such a warm welcome we feel as if we are an honoured guest at God’s table.
In trust, we come to receive the blessings offered by the God of steadfast love—
and we give thanks that we have been and will continue to be fed and nurtured
by the tender care of our Shepherding God in a secure relationship with God. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Lent 4A 2014
Psalm 23

It would be so easy to concentrate on the beginning and end of Psalm 23,
where everything is provided for us; including “time out” to rest and heal
from the long and rough journey; and where there is the glorious concept
of fresh water and lush green grass to cool our hot and weary feet. There is
also an abundance of quality nourishment close by to be enjoyed, especially
after the long struggle of wandering from one sparse thorn bush to another—
and looking for almost invisible blades of grass, or even any sort of weed!
Then at the end of the Psalm, there is the promise of God’s unfailing love
and goodness available to us, and the security of dwelling in God’s presence
and being free to worship God in response to God’s amazing care over us.

Creative pause: “The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need…”

However, it is in the middle section of the Psalm that things become personal!
There are several affirmations that are the fruits of a deeply private experience
of my Shepherding God. The well-hidden emotions of fear and anxiety; mental,
physical and/or spiritual weakness; and loss of direction and bewilderment all
come floating to the surface within my mind and heart. That also includes that
final journey each of us have to take of walking, either slowly or rapidly, through
the dark valley of death! But there to counter those fears and threats are the
tools for the journey, all provided for me by my Guiding God! That means I am
liberated to praise and honour God’s Holy Name, and to give thanks for the many
blessings I have received from God. In addition, God also provides me with new
strength; a new purpose, direction and goal; and God’s near presence becomes
a reality to me as I walk that dark path into the unknown, with God walking step
by step beside me, supporting me with comfort and holding my hand to guide me.

Creative pause: “...I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me...”

God also provided me with a celebratory and lavish feast, to compensate for the
times of being lost, and when I, along with all God’s children, were deprived of
God’s spiritual “means of grace”, as each of us wandered in life’s wildernesses.
Even if that feast was held in hostile territory, the abundance of God’s grace and
mercy offered to me at God’s table took away any threats to my relationship with
God. In preparation for that feast, I was especially welcomed by being anointed
with oil. This conferred on me the spiritual gifts of priesthood and holiness, or else
it signified my exalted royal status! Can you imagine how it must feel to move from
the personal agony of fear, weakness and bewilderment, to being welcomed as a
holy or royal guest to God’s banquet of grace? The quality and quantity of God’s
generosity was so overwhelming, the crockery could not hold all that God offered!

Creative pause: “...You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil…”

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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