A Call to Worship
Pentecost 10B [Ordinary 18B] or [Proper 13B] 2015
Psalm 78: 23-29

Generous God, we gather to worship and praise the God who meets our needs.
We gather to worship and praise the God who listens and answers our prayers.

Inspiring God, we gather to give our thanks for our God’s reconciling compassion.
We gather to give thanks for all God’s past mercies; and for our daily blessings.

Faithful God, we gather to revere the God who despite our sin and foolishness; who
gives us another chance to rejoin God’s path; and who calls us to be guided by God.
We gather to revere the God who teaches us about our past mistakes; who offers
encouragement and blessing; and who surpasses all our expectations and hopes. Amen.

Psalm 78: 23-29
A psalm of Asaph.

23 But he commanded the skies to open; he opened the doors of heaven.
24 He rained down manna for them to eat; he gave them bread from heaven.
25 They ate the food of angels! God gave them all they could hold.
26 He released the east wind in the heavens
and guided the south wind by his mighty power.
27 He rained down meat as thick as dust—
birds as plentiful as the sand on the seashore!
28 He caused the birds to fall within their camp and all around their tents.
29 The people ate their fill. He gave them what they craved.

Prayers of Confession and Trust
Pentecost 10B [Ordinary 18B] or [Proper 13B] 2015
Psalm 78: 23-29

Generous God, we gather to worship and praise the God who meets our needs
and who listens and answers our prayers. We confess that so often we take for
granted God’s continuing generous love and mercy; we just assume that if we say
the right words, or use the approved formula, that all is fixed and we can go on
with our life, totally regardless of the cost of God’s mercy and grace. Forgive us
our lack of thought; our self-centred attitudes that life owes us all that is good—
and help us to offer sincere prayers asking for your forgiveness and a fresh start.
Almighty God, to you we bring our prayers of confession and ask for your mercy.

Faithful God, today we gather to ask for forgiveness for accepting so many gifts
and blessings from you without any thought for you the Giver. We confess that we
have closed our eyes and blocked our ears to the needs of our neighbours; but we
have opened our mouths with criticisms about them; when we have had an option
to talk about our faith in God, we are suddenly tongue-tied; and when we could
have opened wide our arms to welcome strangers, we are suddenly paralysed.
Open our minds, our eyes, our ears and our hearts and disturb our complacency.
Almighty God, to you we bring our prayers of confession and ask for your mercy.

Nurturing God, just as your ancient people complained about their hardships and
the challenges facing them on the way to freedom, help us to understand that it is
only through struggle that lasting personal growth occurs; and that is it only as our
faith in you is tested, that we mature in our discipleship. May each of us grow and
become what you look for in us, in this life that you have blessed and entrusted to
us. Guide, direct and bless each one of us with your merciful forgiveness we pray.
Almighty God, to you we bring our prayers of confession and ask for your mercy. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Pentecost 10B [Ordinary 18B] or [Proper 13B] 2015
Psalm 78: 23-29

Psalm 78 is a poetic description of “the life and times of the people of Israel!”
The Psalm opens with these words: “O my people, listen to my instructions.
Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will
teach you hidden lessons from our past—stories we have heard and known,
stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our
children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD,
about his power and his mighty wonders...”
The psalm openly shared the trials
and tribulations of the people of Israel in their Exodus experiences, and the
way they frequently forgot about and disobeyed God’s commands. It is hard to
imagine the tensions involved as a crowd of people fled for their lives; as they
struggled with the loss of a daily routine as slaves in Egypt; now always under
the oversight of a godly man and his support crew; and never feeling free enough
to celebrate that freedom; and the uncertainty of where they were actually going!

Creative pause: May our struggles enable us to grow in grace and knowledge.

Professor Walter Brueggemann writes: “...Israel’s intense remembering is no
exercise in either escape into the past or retreat from the present and future.
Rather, Israel’s remembering is clearly grounded in the conviction that what has
been attested from the past is the clue to the future. What has been given to
Israel in the past is what will be given in the future; what YHWH has done in the
past is what YHWH will do in the future...”
1 Memory is one of God’s greatest
gifts to humanity, as it helps and guides us to act or speak because of our past
experiences; and that is especially so when those times of shared memory
surpasses any connections of blood, culture, language or land. With the people
of Israel, the lessons to be learned from past experiences through their faith as
God’s own people, but also through blood, culture, language and promised land.

Creative pause: As our faith is tested, may we mature in Christians.

The beauty and purpose of Psalm 78 was to celebrate the memory of God’s
goodness to the people of Israel; to never be tempted to ever forget their own
history, and to learn from its lessons. During Holy Week this year, our church
community invited a Christian Jewish Rabbi to lead us in the celebration of the
Seder Meal, which is a meal that celebrates and remembers the Passover night
when God rescued the “Children of Israel” from slavery in Egypt. All the rituals
of the meal, the food and drink were done in a very specific sequence; and each
had a special significance. That included the crisp unleavened bread, the bread
of haste; egg, which symbolised the desire for freedom to which hard labour gave
birth; parsley, as the symbol of springtime; mixed fruit, which reminded them of
the mortar the slaves were forced to make; the lamb shank bone, a symbol of the
sacrificed Passover lamb; bitter herbs, which represented their own bitterness
before their escape; salt water, symbolising the many tears that were shed; and
the wine, drunk in four different sequences, as we “raised the cup of salvation.”

Creative pause: May we each mature in the life God has entrusted to us.

1 Text by Professor Walter Brueggemann
from “Worship in Ancient Israel – An Essential Guide”
Chapter 5, page 80
© 2005 Abingdon Press
201 Eighth Avenue South, Nashville TN 37202-0801 USA

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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