A Call to Worship
After Pentecost 12A [Ordinary 21A] or [Proper 16A] 2017
Psalm 124

Ever-present God: we come to celebrate your desire to save and bless us.
Liberating God: you offer us freedom from the fears that entrap and grip us.

Faithful God: we come to give thanks for God’s everlasting arms under us.
Tender God: we give thanks that your door is always open to welcome us.

Merciful God: we come to make our confessions over the choices we have
made; and how we have failed to always trust in God’s compassionate love.
Forgiving God: we bless the name of the Lord our God whenever we come
to make our confessions; and we are received into God’s forgiving embrace. Amen.

Psalm 124
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.
A psalm of David.

1 What if the Lord had not been on our side?
Let all Israel repeat:
2 What if the Lord had not been on our side
when people attacked us?
3 They would have swallowed us alive
in their burning anger.

4 The waters would have engulfed us;
a torrent would have overwhelmed us.
5 Yes, the raging waters of their fury
would have overwhelmed our very lives.

6 Praise the Lord, who did not let their teeth tear us apart!
7 We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap.
The trap is broken, and we are free!

8 Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Prayers of Trust and Thankfulness
After Pentecost 12A [Ordinary 21A] or [Proper 16A] 2017
Psalm 124

Ever-present God: we come to celebrate your active desire to save and bless us
by responding to our cries for help and redirection. We acknowledge the many
times we have chosen our own path in life; only to come calling on God to rescue
us from the results of our stupidity or sinfulness. We also acknowledge the way
we always assume our way is the best way for us; and for other people around us
who are prepared to trust our arrogance. We give thanks that the God we worship
understands us; forgives us our confessed sin; and liberates us from all that grips
or entraps us. We also praise our God for releasing us from the chaos that engulfs
us when we try to ‘go it alone’; and when our fear of failure outweighs our wisdom.

Faithful God: we come to give you our thanks for God’s promises that are so real
to us, and that they are so reliable, especially when God’s everlasting arms are
under us, supporting us when we fail and fall! We pray that you will teach us your
ancient promises that still remain relevant to us today; so that our trust in you grows
along with our faith in your abiding presence. We give thanks for the wisdom of past
saints who have given us statements of faith that we can cling to; even if we do not
fully understand their teachings. We celebrate the timeless good news that we can
“…believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth....”1 Creating
and Tender God: we give thanks that your door is always open in welcome to us.

Merciful God: as we make our confessions before you over the choices we have
made; and how we have failed to always trust in God’s compassionate love; we
rejoice that no matter what we have done in the past and for our many mistakes—
that “....nothing can ever separate us from God’s love… neither our fears for today
nor our worries about tomorrow …!”
5 May all praise, glory and honour be to our God! Amen.

A Personal Meditation
After Pentecost 12A [Ordinary 21A] or [Proper 16A] 2017
Psalm 124

Psalm 124 is described as a psalm of thanksgiving, but for me that sits at odds
with the absolute vulnerability of the opening verses. Twice the psalmist asked:
“What if...?” Other questions could also be asked: “I wonder why?” “Perhaps if I
had...?” “Maybe there would have been a different outcome if only I had...
that shifts the emphasis away from our utter dependence on God to the personal,
and our own limited capacity to understand the bigger picture. When compared to
humanity’s vulnerability, one commentator taught of God’s infinite and unchanging
desire to rescue and save, with the Exodus experience being the Old Testament’s
primary example! The final verse states the closing argument to any other lingering
questions or doubts, and is the basis for the Creedal statements : “I believe in God,
the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth...”1 and “We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen...”

Creative pause: God’s infinite and unchanging desire to rescue and save!

Whilst Israel is frequently claimed and recognised as God’s “chosen people” in both
the Old and the New Testaments, those “chosen” ones need to also make their own
choices. To make the choice of living as God’s own, and witnessing to their choice
as proclaimed by the Apostle Peter: “...You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very
own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called
you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. ‘Once you had no identity as a people;
now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s
3 As we live out and show the goodness of God to others, the dominating fears
that entrap and engulf people’s heart and minds, have another message to focus on.

Creative pause: Making our own choices are a daily threat and promise.

Professor Walter Brueggemann wrote about Psalm 124: “…The psalm presents such
a negative scenario only to dismiss it because, in fact, Yahweh was present and on
‘our’ side. Thus the negative was only a ploy to celebrate how it is with Yahweh’s
commitment… The key evangelical assertion is that Yahweh is for us, with us, on our
side, belongs to us – utterly committed…”
4 The threats listed are described by some
commentators as the “standard and historical threats” of the people of Israel, and are
even considered by some as being imaginary and their ‘worst fears’. For a land-loving
nation, the threat of chaotic waters engulfing them had nightmare proportions; and were
real in their minds if not in their reality. However, the vulnerability of fragile and helpless
trapped birds were known experiences, and something they as people tried to avoid!

Creative pause: “....nothing can ever separate us from God’s love…”5

1 The Apostles Creed

2 The Nicene Creed

3 1 Peter 2: 9b, 10 (NLT)

4 Text by Professor Walter Brueggemann from
“The Message of the Psalms”
Chapter 4, page 139 ©1984 Augsburg Publishing House
Minneapolis MN 55440, USA

5 Romans 8: 38b (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:
© 2017 Joan Stott –‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year A. Based on verses from Psalm 124.
Used with permission.


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