A Call to Worship
Lent 6B, Liturgy of the Passion 2018
Psalm 31: 9-16

We gather to worship you because you are our God, and we trust you.
We come to praise you, because you hold us in the palm of your hand.

We gather to confess our sin to you, because you are our forgiving God.
We come to thank you for forgiving us and encouraging us to start again.

We gather to accept your merciful forgiveness and your newness of life—
because we trust in our God’s unfailing and merciful love that shines on us.
We come to celebrate the joy of God’s forgiveness and acceptance; and to
express our trust and hope in you for the future that you hold for each of us. Amen.

Psalm 31: 9-16

9 Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am in distress. Tears blur my eyes.
My body and soul are withering away.
10 I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness.
Sin has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within.
11 I am scorned by all my enemies and despised by my neighbours—
even my friends are afraid to come near me.
When they see me on the street, they run the other way.
12 I am ignored as if I were dead, as if I were a broken pot.
13 I have heard the many rumours about me, and I am surrounded by terror.
My enemies conspire against me, plotting to take my life.

14 But I am trusting you, O LORD, saying, “You are my God!”
15 My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
16 Let your favour shine on your servant.
In your unfailing love, rescue me.

Prayers of Trust and Confession
Lent 6B, Liturgy of the Passion 2018
Psalm 31: 9-16

We gather to worship you because you are our God, and because we know we can
trust you. As our great and glorious Creator, we know that you hold us securely in
the palm of your hand; and so we come to you with our confessions of sin, our regrets
and our failures. We have failed you, because we have turned away from you in our
arrogance and pride; thinking that we know what is best for us; and yet we have failed
in so many ways. We claim to trust you, but our words and actions deny that belief.
Hear our confessions and grant to us the joy of forgiveness and acceptance by you,
and teach us how to grow in trust. At times we feel rejected by people who know us;
at times we feel overlooked or abandoned when new roles of service for you arise; and
we feel unloved and unacceptable. Help us deal with these feelings; and give us a new
sense of being of worth to God; and valued by the members of our faith community.

In hope and trust, we gather to confess to our God, to admit to ourselves, and to share
with others the pain of our sin-filled lives. We do not want to be so mired in sin; yet we
don’t seem to be able to help ourselves; and our separation from God hurts us deeply!
As we make our various confessions, help us to do so in faith, hope and trust in our
merciful God. Like the psalmist, we say that our “…future is in your hands…”; and we
pray that with God’s forgiveness and blessing, we may move on into God’s future with
confidence in the gifts with which God has blessed us; and a desire to serve our God.

We gather to worship you because you are our God, and because we know we can
always trust in your merciful forgiveness and your newness of life, that you offer to
people who are genuinely confess their sin. Help us not to care so much when people
do not understand our commitment to godly living; our sincere hope and trust in God’s
guidance; and our loyalty to what we believe is just and fair. Give to us an awareness
of God’s acceptance of us; the beauty of our restored relationships with our God; and
the joy of God’s favour shining down upon us, which strengthens us for God’s future. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Lent 6B, Liturgy of the Passion 2018
Psalm 31: 9-16

I have always been intrigued with the purpose of Passion Sunday, and wondered
why it continues to be celebrated just five days before Good Friday. According to the
internet, Passion Sunday is not celebrated by many denominations; but it does have a
a purpose, as many nations do not recognise Good Friday as being a significant day of
religious meditation, prayer and reflection; and that it is simply just another day in the
working week! Therefore, many people are denied the opportunity to attend shared
worship on Good Friday; or even to attend the Holy Week liturgies; so those “Good Friday”
Bible readings that reverently follow Jesus’ path to the cross are read the Sunday
before; and that allows for the Easter Day readings the following Sunday. Here in
Australia, with its multi-cultural, multi-faith or ‘no faith’ society, we still have a public
holiday on Good Friday, but increasingly, there are calls for sanctioned commercial
or sporting activities to be held that day. I give thanks for the opportunity to attend
the various Holy Week services; and especially to attend for Good Friday’s worship.

Creative pause: Pause to meditate, pray and reflect on the Good Friday story.

Professor Walter Brueggemann wrote as follows about the Psalm’s selected verses:
“…Verses 9-10 use personal imagery to characterise a crisis that involves all of life:
eye, body, strength and bones…The petitioner is an ancient Humpty Dumpty, a
shattered pot never to be out back together again… With verse 14, there is a change
in the prayer to an expression of trust. Although it seems that enemies surround the
petitioner, God is still worthy of trust. ‘I say, you are my God.’…The hope is that
YHWH will demonstrate the hoped for steadfast love and bring renewed life…”
I can personally attest to the depths of pain that life brings, and the “Humpty Dumpty”
analogy is a perfect description of a life that has collapsed under oneself; yet the power
of God has not diminished through the centuries, and “Humpty Dumpty” can again be
put back together – even if the result shows crack scars – it is now also whole again.

Creative pause: “…The hope is that YHWH will demonstrate the hoped for steadfast love..”1

Regardless of the denominational trends, the Revised Common Lectionary continues
to celebrate Good Friday with relevant Old and New Testament Bible readings. The
Isaiah reading includes these words: “…The Sovereign LORD has spoken to me, and I
have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away. I offered my back to those who beat
me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from
mockery and spitting. Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced.
Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I
will not be put to shame…”
2 The Epistle reading includes these words: “…Though he
[Christ Jesus] was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and
was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in
obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross…”
3 This is followed by Mark’s
version of Jesus’ passion: “…Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross. They divided his
clothes and threw dice to decide who would get each piece. It was nine o’clock in the
morning when they crucified him...”
4 The selected verses from Psalm 31 speak of the
agony of human suffering and rejection; but rising above the burden of deep pain and
anguish are the words of trust and hope: “…But I am trusting you, O LORD, saying, “You
are my God!” My future is in your hands… Let your favour shine on your servant. In your
unfailing love, rescue me…”
The obedient and suffering Son died, trusting in God’s love.

Creative pause: “…he humbled himself in obedience to God and died…on a cross…”3

1 Text by Professor Walter Brueggemann
& William H Bellinger Junior from “Psalms”
Psalm 31, page 158
© 2014 Cambridge University Press

2 Isaiah 50: 4-9a (NLT)

3 Philippians 2: 5-11 (NLT)

4 Mark 15: 1-39, (40-47) (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 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 Meditation are used in shared worship, please provide this acknowledgement:
© 2018 Joan Stott –‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year B. Based on verses from Psalm 31.
Used with permission.


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