Faithful God, we come to you with our deep despair—
A Call to Worship
Lent 5A 2014
confident that, here and now, you really are present.
Listening God, we gather together to worship you today!
Accessible God, although we have no right to come—
yet we still come to you seeking your supportive help.
Helping God, we gather together to be forgiven by you.
Covenantal God, our complete hope and trust is in you—
from the depths of our misery, we wait and hope in you.
Nurturing God, from the depths we gather together to be
healed, blessed and liberated by you of all that separates
us from the presence, worship and praise of our Holy God. Amen.
A song for the ascent to Jerusalem.
1 From the depths of despair, O LORD, I call for your help.
2 Hear my cry, O LORD. Pay attention to my prayer.
3 LORD, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O LORD, could ever survive?
4 But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.
5 I am counting on the LORD; yes, I am counting on him.
I have put my hope in his word.
6 I long for the LORD more than sentries long for the dawn,
yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.
7 O Israel, hope in the LORD;
for with the LORD there is unfailing love and an overflowing supply of salvation.
8 He himself will free Israel from every kind of sin.
Prayers of Lament and Trust
Faithfully present God, we come to you now in our deep despair—
Lent 5A 2014
confident that, here and now, you really are present, and in trust and
hope, we call on you to listen carefully to our pleas for your help. Only
you know and understand the traumas we are experiencing; and only
you can release us from this deep darkness that has invaded our inner
beings. We call on you as individuals, and as a community of faith, to
hear our combined prayers. Be for us this day our Listening God, as we
pour out our pain and disappointment to you. We have been bold in this
approach to you, and we give thanks that you don’t keep a long list of all
our sin; but even so, we all feel an awed sense of wonder and fear, that
we dare to approach the God of all time with our requests for your help.
Holy God, we even dare to name you as our “Accessible God”, because
we know of your promises in the past, and we rely on them to still be true,
authentic and valid for every situation of need that is experienced by your
people. Be for us this day, Trustworthy God, all that you have been and
promised to be to our ancestors in the past; and hear us now in our grief
and crying as we call upon you for your help. We wait in hopeful anticipation
for you to respond to our pleas, as we yearn for a closer bonding with you.
God of the living covenant that you made with your people, even though
generations of us have been unfaithful to you and your words of truth and
mercy; we come from the depths of our pain and misery, risking even our
future as we wait for your liberating powers to free us from this dark hole,
and to give to us your gracious but unmerited forgiveness. Nurturing God,
we gather together to be healed and blessed from this bad experience of
being separated from your presence, and therefore missing out on the joy
of gathering together for honest and sincere worship and praise of our God. Amen.
A Personal Meditation
The Psalmist cried out as one person, amidst a group of very miserable people:
Lent 5A 2014
“From the depths of despair, O Lord, I call for your help. Hear my cry, O Lord.
Pay attention to my prayer…” How bold was that person to take the risk of being
demanding of God, and even “prodding” God to ensure that he was heard, and to
alert God to his need! The author even suggested that there might be a long list
somewhere that recorded all their sin, and if that happened – they were all lost!
He then very boldly answered his own cries for help! “...But you offer forgiveness,
that we might learn to fear you…” Generally, “fear of the Lord” is associated with
learning to revere and be in awe of God - or terrified - like the ancient people of
Israel when Moses communed with God on the mountain! How did Moses know
that God offered forgiveness - unless that was a blessing he had received from God
many times before! The author went so far as to exclaim: “…I am counting on the Lord;
yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word…” Would you be so bold?
|Creative pause:||How bold are you in your prayers to God?|
This bold supplicant before God - as he called out from the depths of a “pit” of
spiritual and emotional separation from God and the shared worship of God—
also yearned for the bonding and solidarity of a secure and trusting relationship
with God. His separation from God had cut him to the very depths of his being,
and he desperately longed to be heard by his listening and responding God!
|Creative pause:||God’s promises are true – even today!|
Have you ever been driving in a long tunnel, or at the bottom of a tall tower, when,
looking up or ahead, there is a distant light streaming into that enclosed darkness?
Looking towards that light may either fill us with hope, because the light will become
brighter the nearer you are to it; or it may fill us with despair because it is still so far
away! The “pit” of our desolation is like that tunnel as we grope towards the light!
Yet God’s merciful forgiveness was and is so near, and our transformation so readily
available if we seek forgiveness, and accept the blessing of God’s steadfast love.
Hope always in the Lord our God’s unfailing love, and you will know true freedom!
|Creative pause:||God’s forgiveness transforms the present into God’s future.|
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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