A Call to Worship
Lent 4C 2013, Psalm 32

Patient and Forgiving God, we come together to worship and praise you.
We know we have all been short-sighted about our need for forgiveness!

Restoring and Renewing God, we come to worship God and to confess our sin.
We know we have been rebellious, and filled with pride over our self-sufficiency!

Gracious and Generous God, we come to rejoice and celebrate your mercy!
Through God’s mercy and grace, we know we are forgiven and we give thanks!
With God’s help, we can now start again with each other, and with God! Amen.

Prayers of Penitence and Thankfulness
Lent 4C 2013, Psalm 32

God of community and comfort, before God we come together to share in our
common humanity. But we come too, as people who believe that we have a
deep sense of isolation and separation from each other; and we are also aware
that we are not the only person who has ever recently rebelled against God,
and God’s call on our lives. We know that this heavy weight of sinfulness is our
own individual burden to carry to God; and that it is our individual pain that stops
each of us from being open to each other and to God. Reconciling God, we come
to again ask you to remove this sin-inspired weight from our life, spirit and soul;
and restore, renew and re-invigorate our faith and trust in our Forgiving God.

Listening God, sometimes we can be so foolish as individuals or as a community!
We acknowledge that our silence before you is a sin that we cling to, but we do
not like feeling vulnerable with anyone, but especially we do not like that before God,
as there is no place that we can hide from God! However, the longer we remain silent
before God, the harder it is to break that silence and to confess our sin. This then
becomes a fixation for us, and our guilty consciences niggle at our inner beings, both
as a community and as an individual; so that we are spiritually and mentally dragged
down! Holy God, if only we always believed the words we pray and say – there would
be no problem. God willingly forgives us, and restores the balance in God’s relationship
with us! Reconciling God, we give thanks that you listen to our prayers, and through
your generous love, you will restore, renew and re-invigorate our faith and trust in you.

Promise-fulfilling God, how reassuring it is to know that God not only forgives us our
sinfulness, but also promises to teach us, to instruct and guide us on the best paths
for our faith community, but also for individuals; so that we may not be so foolish again—
like a mule that fights against the guiding bit and bridle! Together, and as individuals,
we celebrate a partnership that honours and glorifies our God! Reconciling God, accept
our thanks this day for all you have been to us in the past, and all you will be in the future! Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Lent 4C 2013, Psalm 32

The writer of this Psalm must have thought that his community needed
time to assess his wisdom and words, because he included three “Selahs”
in the Psalm. Scholars have various understandings about the meaning
of “Selah” as used in the Psalms, but I like the version that suggests that
a pause is advisable to enable people to reflect on the earlier words and
wisdom! The writer was groaning in agonised pain because of his separation
from God, and it really bothered him! As there would be many other people
besides him who were being stubbornly sinful, he suggested that they could
also “Pause to reflect on things!” When the author realised his sin, he confessed
and received God’s forgiveness; then he again suggested: “Pause to reflect
on things”
and celebrate God’s merciful forgiveness! Then he gave more advice:
“....that they [that is - me and you] may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me
with songs of victory...”
Once again he suggested: “Pause to reflect on things!”

Creative pause: Do we pause to think and reflect often enough before God?

The four “working translations” I use to prepare these prayers and meditations
have the first verse of Psalm 32 as : “Happy are those whose transgression is
forgiven, whose sin is covered...”1 “Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is
forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight..!”2 “Blessed is he whose transgressions
are forgiven, whose sins are covered...”3 “Count yourself lucky, how happy
you must be - you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean.....”4
Do you think
that the following words all mean the same thing? They definitely do not to me!
“Happy”; “Oh, what joy”; “blessed”; and “Count yourself lucky, how happy you
must be...”
Whatever word we choose to use when trying to describe the feelings
we experience when the gift of living in a right relationship with God is bestowed
upon us , there is no “luck” involved, there is only God’s grace and mercy poured
over us giving us the wonderful joy of being restored as a blessed child of God!

Creative pause: There is no “luck” in God’s generous grace and mercy!

The Psalm concludes: “So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!”
I have found that obedience to God
and purity of heart are easier said than done! I have heard many addresses and
lectures on “Christian holiness” or “Christian perfection”, but I am content to allow
that to be God’s action and grace and in my life, and to try to follow God as I am
enabled and empowered – which may mean that I am immediately being disobedient!

Creative pause: Obedience to God and purity of heart is easier said than done!

Extracts from the Psalm for this meditation are from:
1 ‘The New Revised Standard Version’ ‘New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989,
Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.’
2 ‘New Living Translation’, © 1996. copyright All rights reserved.
Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189 USA.
3 ‘New International Version’ copyright © 1979 reissued in 1973 & 1978
Published by New York International Bible Society. All rights reserved.
4 ‘The Message’ As published by NavPress in English: The Bible in Contemporary Language
© 2002 by Eugene Peterson. USA Copyright. All rights reserved.

*The additional weekly numbering is from the Revised COCU Indexing Scheme
COCU = ('Consultation on Church Union'); as it offers an easy sequential numbering for the Revised
Common Lectionary for the Church Calendar.

If any part of these Prayers and/or Meditations is used in shared worship, please provide
the following acknowledgement:
© 2013 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year C. Used with permission.


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