We come to God in worship, even when we are weighed down with our guilt.
A Call to Worship
Lent 5A 2017
Generous God, whilst confessing our sin, we come to you for help and healing.
We come to God in thankfulness, even when we are lost in our deep despair.
Forgiving God, in gratitude we come to you for your unfailing love and mercy.
We come to God in celebration, even when we are discouraged and cannot
find our way out of our painful struggles, because we trust God’s faithfulness.
Renewing and Restoring God, in joyous relief, we come to you with our praises
as we honour and revere you for your merciful generosity and love towards us. Amen.
A song for pilgrims ascending 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. His redemption overflows.
8 He himself will redeem Israel from every kind of sin.
Prayers of Penitence and Trust
Generous God, today we come before you in worship, even though we feel as if
Lent 5A 2017
we are weighed down with our guilt over our sinfulness and our sense of failure.
We come to confess our sin to you, and to ask for your merciful forgiveness, even
as we also seek your help, guidance and healing from the woes that plague us
because of our separation from you. We feel as if we have lost the focus of our life
and living when we are not in a close relationship with you; and so we come to you
asking for your generous and loving forgiveness of our confessed sin. We come
before you, God of comfort and compassion, asking that you will restore us once
again to your holy presence, so that we may more faithfully live, love and serve you.
Forgiving God, in sincere gratitude we come to you to thank you for your unfailing
love and mercy towards us; asking that you help us in our struggles with our deep
despair over our failure to be true to our commitment to you. We make promises to
you, and almost before we have finished praying, once again we fall into the trap
of sin and fail you and ourselves! In your gracious mercy, you hear our confessions
and grant us your blessings; but Loving God, how we hate it when we fall and fail!
Today, we come to God in thankfulness for God’s faithfulness and steadfast love.
Renewing and Restoring God, in joyous relief, we come to you with our praises as
we honour and revere you for your merciful generosity and love towards us. We also
come together as a community of faith to celebrate God’s generous gifts to us, and
to receive our shared sense of forgiveness and restoration as God’s people in this
time and place. We give thanks that even when we lose our way on our pilgrimage
of faith and hope, we have our Faithful God to gather us up again and welcome us
back into God’s Holy Presence, forgiven, blessed, renewed, restored and rejoicing! Amen.
A Personal Meditation
The psalmist was or is experiencing “...the depths of despair…”, surely one of the
Lent 5A 2017
most challenging of emotions for anyone to experience. There are many synonyms
for “despair” which make very clear the sense of hopelessness and pain associated
with that deepest of human emotions: desperation, distress, anguish, suicidal, misery,
wretched; and the utter loss of hope or anticipation for anything better in life, as they
are usually too dispirited or pessimistic to be able to rise above it. In his despair the
psalmist turned to God with this cry: “...I call for your help. Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay
attention to my prayer. Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever
survive...?” Whatever it was that caused “...the depths of despair…”, it was not anything
to be taken lightly or even easily explained to anyone else! Only God could be trusted!
|Creative pause:||Depression and despair can be so destructive!|
We do not know whether the psalmist was crying out in a personal or community-wide
prayer to God, but God was the only One able to hear and bring healing and hope to
him or their congregation. Was the “...depths of despair…” caused by regret/remorse—
because in their sin they had failed God? Yet there seems to be almost a contradiction in
this psalm because he or they seemed to be so buried beneath the weight of their “deep
despair”, one would normally think that their anticipation was not their expected emotional
response in those circumstances. The difference in their attitude was his/their own deeply
embedded faith in God, because he or they have memories of past blessings from God;
along with forgiveness of his/their confessed sin! Because of their memories and their trust
in God, they waited together in genuine anticipation of blessings and a new relationship.
|Creative pause:||Thank God for the memories of God’s forgiveness for past sin!|
The last two verses of Psalm 130 are a combination of plea, a prayer of petition and almost
a celebratory shout: “...O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love.
His redemption overflows. He himself will redeem Israel from every kind of sin.” Regardless
of all that had gone before, “God’s steadfast love and mercy” was and is unchanging; and so
they celebrated! The pilgrims sang this psalm on their way to Jerusalem, as they anticipated
the renewing and refreshing cleansing of forgiveness that they would receive in their Temple
worship. They also celebrated God’s astonishing generosity that was like a stream flowing
over them in blessings of grace and mercy, as they looked forward to God’s re-establishment
of their covenantal relationship, so that God and God’s people would be together once again!
|Creative pause:||“...hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love”|
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 help and inspiration so frequently available from the writings of Professor Walter Brueggemann and Professorial brothers Rolf and Karl Jacobson; and the resources from "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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