God has promised to be: “...our hiding place...” and to always protect us.
A Call to Worship
Lent 4C 2016
We come to worship God, and to give thanks for God’s great promises.
God has promised to: “...guide you along the best pathway for your life...”
We come to give our thanks and praise for all God’s blessed guidances.
God has promised: “...I will advise you and watch over you...” and God will
“...surround those who trust in God with unfailing love” and “...songs of victory...”
We come to offer to God our thankful prayers and songs of joyful celebration—
because we are forgiven, freed from our past mistakes; and can start again. Amen.
A psalm of David.
1 Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!
2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
3 When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away,
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 my guilt.
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 pray to you while there is still 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 Thankfulness
Trustworthy God, we come to worship God and to give thanks for the wonderful
Lent 4C 2016
promises with which you have blessed so many people and communities, each
of whom have trusted in those promises, and have sought to live within and by
them. We give thanks that even when life has been tough and we have struggled
to be faithful to our commitments to God, we can still go to God and be blessed
as we take time out to hide in God’s embrace of “...unfailing love...” We also give
thanks that as we are surrounded by that great and unfailing love of God, so that
we can always with confidence “...rejoice in the Lord and be glad... and shout for joy..!”
Faithful God, we come today into our sacred space to join with our fellow pilgrims
as we travel through the life of faith and belief in our Nurturing God. We give thanks
for the many promises God has given to groups of people who gather to worship
and praise their God, whether it be in simple and humble surroundings or in the
glorious beauty of majestic buildings with intricate and elaborate settings of the
craft-persons’ art. We come together in this place of worship today because we
need each other; we need support and encouragement; we need people’s prayers;
and we need people’s acceptance of us as we are – even if we are disobedient or
sin-filled people. But most of all, we need our God to forgive us our disobedience
and to guide us along the best pathway for a fulfilling life. We give our thanks and
praise for all of God’s blessed guidance in years past, up until this present moment.
Transforming God, it is because of your unfailing love for all your creation, and most
especially for your unfailing love of and for humanity, that we come together as your
people, seeking to show you our faithfulness to you by worshipping you in the place
set aside for shared worship. We come to offer to God our thankful prayers and songs
of joyful celebration, because we know we are forgiven; we know we have been freed
from our past mistakes and failures; and that through God’s grace, we can start again. Amen.
A Personal Meditation
Verse 1 in Psalm 32 starts in a very challenging way: “Oh, what joy for those
Lent 4C 2016
whose disobedience is forgiven…” We become so used to our “sin” being able
to be forgiven by our generous God, but our disobedience? So I ask myself what
are my ‘disobediences’ as opposed to my ‘sin’? The psalmist later reflected at
length about his “sin”; but disobedience seems not quite so problematic in a
society that claims that it has the ‘right’ to make personal choices. The definition
of ‘disobedience’ is quite simple: it is a deliberate or unintentional failure to obey
the laws or rules as established by peoples’ with authority; or behaviour that
violates those accepted rules or laws. Some translations replace that word with
‘transgression’ – but what does it mean to transgress? That word is defined as
someone going beyond the limits of what is morally, socially, or legally acceptable,
or to step across or over a defined line or border. The psalmist sang of the “joy”
of ‘disobedience’ or ‘transgression’ being forgiven – do you feel such similar joy?
|Creative pause:||Does the quality of our joy depend on how much we are forgiven?|
Then the psalmist spoke really plainly! “...Yes, what joy for those whose record the
LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty...!” When the
word ‘record’ is used in that context, it is usually in derogatory or dismissive terms—
“Oh he/she has quite a ‘record’” – which often means an unflattering or even an
unsavoury record - or prison record! So, what is your or my ‘record’ like in God’s
or people’s eyes? How many people can claim that their lives “...are lived in complete
honesty...” - before God? There are enormous personal issues and costs when we
live dishonestly before God, be it either/or emotionally, physically or spiritually! The
psalmist described the open and honest believer thus: “....but unfailing love surrounds
those who trust the LORD. So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him...!”
|Creative pause:||“....rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him...!”|
From personal experiences, the psalmist warned as he confessed: “...When I refused
to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night
your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the
summer heat....” and he added this advice “...Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control...” Why should we think we know
what is best when we have promises like this from God: “...I will guide you along the
best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you....” When Jesus gave
us all the ‘Beatitudes’ “....God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see
God…”1 was he remembering this: “…Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!”
|Creative pause:||“....God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God…”1|
1 Matthew 5:8 (NLT)
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:
© 2016 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year C. Used with permission.
Download/view a pdf file of this document here: lent4c_2016.pdf