A Call to Worship
Passion Sunday, Lent 6B 2015
Psalm 31: 9-16

Holy God, let your favour shine on us now, because we desperately need your help.
Come to us now in the darkness of our fears, to give us rest in your sacred presence.

Encouraging God, shine the light of your mercy on us to ease the weight of our burdens.
Come to us now in the turmoil of our emotions to give us peace in your gentle presence.

Responding God, shine the light of your grace on us now to empower us to withstand
the threats of isolation and suffering, so that we can say: “...I am trusting you, O Lord..”
Come to us now in the temptations that beset us, and strengthen us in newness of life
and purpose, so we can with integrity sing: “...You are my God! My future is in your hands...” Amen.

Psalm 31: 9-16
For the choir director: A psalm of David.

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 Lament
Passion Sunday, Lent 6B 2015
Psalm 31: 9-16

Creating God, you who are whole, complete and all-together, we are your creation—
and we yearn for that same sense of wholeness; but as vulnerable people, we often
feel fragmented, disorderly and even confused about who we are and what we could
become. We come to you in trusting prayer, Generous God, asking that you help us
be a more coherent and objective person in our faith and belief in the God of the Ages.
We are so easily distracted by what we read and hear regarding our faith and beliefs in
you. So often, other people have conflicting experiences and ideas about “life” and its
meaning and purposes that so often we struggle to make sense of what we profess or
live-out in our day-to-day living. Liberating God, like the psalmist we do trust in you, and
we ask that you will guide us into your truth and your planned way of right-living, so that
we may faithfully and honestly love and serve you all our days, and truly witness to you.

Trustworthy God, hear us today as we bring our prayers of lament, as we sigh deeply over
all that hurts and distresses us. As individuals, our personal worries weigh us down; even
those worries that are more imagined than real as we fret about our own or our loved one’s
problems. As a community, we also have worries and concerns, and these are distractions
that weakens our convictions and commitments, and divert us from our God-given tasks of
offering to God and humanity, our faithful worship, witness and service. Like the psalmist,
we pray: “...Let your favour shine on your servant. In your unfailing love, rescue me...” and
warm us with the blessings of your love, your guidance and above all, your sacred peace.

God of the warming grace and brightness of eternal light and love, we come to you to bare
our minds, our hearts and even our souls to your searching and forgiving love. So often, we
are very ashamed of our failures in faithfulness; our lack of real commitment to you; and our
timid approach to a life of faith, hope and trust in our Reliable and Dependable God. We so
easily lose our focus on the issues that are really important, and instead go off on a mindless
tangent that undermines our declared commitments and goals. Help us to retain a focus on
you and your holy mission in this place where we are placed. Reinvigorate our faith and trust
in you, we pray O God; and inspire us afresh to be once again, your faithful servant always. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Passion Sunday, Lent 6B 2015
Psalm 31: 9-16

I have always been puzzled by the casual way people often refer to “Passion Sunday”—
as if it only means that Jesus was very passionate about his ministry to people, even if
it inevitably led to his death. Rather, the term “Jesus’ passion” dates back to the ancient
Old French and Late Latin word “passio”; which was also linked with the Greek word
“pathos”. These words referred to the mental and spiritual anguish of Jesus as he was
betrayed by his loved ones and then rejected by them; and also in the way he suffered
great physical and emotional agony during his corrupt trial and eventual death. In later
centuries, that the word “passion” also became associated with the suffering death of
Christian martyrs; and it further developed other meanings. Whenever we refer to the
“passion of Jesus”, we also need to remember his obedience to the Father’s will to bring
about the salvation and liberation of God’s people from the dread powers of sin and death.

Creative pause: What does “Passion Sunday” mean to you?

This lament psalm is set for every “Passion Sunday” and tells the story of a broken man—
broken in body, mind and spirit. His sight was blurred by tears, which implied he was blind
to any beauty around him; his physical body, stamina and strength was exhausted of all
energy and “get-up-and-go” because of grief and sorrow; and his own physical death was
looming because of his lack of interest in living. Even his inner being was also depleted of
its usual resources that renewed and restored him. He claimed that his “...Sin has drained
my strength; I am wasting away from within...”
In Biblical times, “wasting diseases” were
described as being caused by high temperatures and dehydration, so that the body of the
victim “dried out” of all fluids and died; so the author’s preoccupation with his sinful state
had literally sucked all the life out of him! If the choice of this psalm for “Passion Sunday”
was intended to show how physically Jesus was affected by his “passion” - it is amazingly
expressive of a man in deep physical agony, who was almost beyond all physical endurance.

Creative pause: Does Psalm 31 express for you Jesus’ own sense despair?

The psalmist also described a person who was bereft of all human kindness and support
as he experienced a sense of complete isolation from all love and help – even the love and
support of God! Brueggemann described him “...as an ancient Humpty Dumpty...”,1 who
was so devastated and crushed that there was no hope of him ever being “...put together
2 The cruel hypocrisy of his so-called friends, and the taunts of his enemies had a
demoralising effect on the man as he feared for his reputation and even for his life. Such a
depth of physical, emotional, spiritual and mental torment can destroy a person, yet in the
next verses of the psalm the author sang: “….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...”
How appropriate is this psalm to Jesus’ situation and experience!

Creative pause: Does Psalm 31 express for you Jesus’ own sense isolation?

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

2 Historically, the satirical poem “Humpty Dumpty” was about a very large cannon used during the
English Civil War (1642 - 1649) and erected on a wall to protect the city of Colchester. A shot hit the
foundations under “Humpty Dumpty”, and the cannon fell and broke into pieces, and “all the kings horses
and all the kings men could not put Humpty together again.”

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 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:
© 2015 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year B. Used with permission.


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