A Call to Worship
Pentecost 13C [Ordinary 20C] or [Proper 15C] 2013
Psalm 80: 1-2, 8-19

Light-giving God, we totally rely on your light and warmth for strong growth.
God you are our hope for any growth, we come to worship your Holy Name.

Life-renewing God, when we are damaged, we come to you for healing.
God of new beginnings, we come together to call on your Holy Name.

Life-reviving God, in our deep need and despair, you have nurtured and
cared for us so tenderly, and together we come to praise and thank you.
Merciful God, you have given us fresh hope and a new direction in life as
your love and warmth comforts and revives us, we bless your Holy Name. Amen.

Prayers of Confession and Lament
Pentecost 13C [Ordinary 20C] or [Proper 15C] 2013
Psalm 80: 1-2, 8-19

O Lord God Almighty, the Psalmist used the imagery of God’s faithful people
as being like of a strong and vigorous vine, with its roots firmly planted in the
nurturing soil of God’s Holy Name; and its branches strong enough to offer
shade to the mountains and large trees. But the vine lost its ability to grow,
and its fruits were eaten by wild animals. Life-giving God, you are the original
Planter, Gardiner and Nurturer of your people. We are conscious that we are
not the people whom you created and called us to become. We have failed to
keep the promises we’ve made to ourselves, and also to you; and we have lost
the early enthusiasm of our faith in you, and our fruit has not developed or ripened.
Forgive us, we pray, for our failure to stay rooted and grounded in God’s Being.
“...Come back, we beg you, O God Almighty... Look down... and see our plight...”

Just as the imagery of God preparing the soil for planting the Holy Vine of God’s
people, we too have been encouraged and blessed in our faith in God during our
youth and developing years; so that in our spiritual development we grew strong
and vigorous, and committed our lives to God’s service in the world. But we have
allowed “life” to intervene; we have become distracted by competing claims to our
time and energy, and our faith has wilted and become frost-tender, so that our
new growth is burnt-back on the vine. Forgive us, we pray, for allowing ourselves
to be distracted by life’s peripheral things, and for turning away through apathy.
“Revive us so we can call on your name once more. Turn us again to yourself, O Lord.”

O Lord God Almighty, forgive us for lowering our defences against all that is evil
in the world, and for allowing the insidious entry of all that divides and undermines
our shared and individual faith in God. As God’s people in this time and place, we
confess our failure to be faithful to you, and for permitting the shadows of personal
ambition and interests to darken all that is holy and good about our shared fellowship
and faith in God, so that growth and outreach in God’s Name have withered away.
“....Show us your mighty power. Come to rescue us!...” “O Lord God Almighty, make
your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved...” In God’s Name, we pray.

A Personal Meditation
Pentecost 13C [Ordinary 20C] or [Proper 15C] 2013
Psalm 80: 1-2, 8-19

On an interstate visit for an ecumenical conference, the participants
visited a large Jewish synagogue, and the Rabbi graciously shared
his faith and culture with us. How fascinating it was to see the “things”
I had heard and read about in daily use! However, what impressed
me the most was the carved wood panelling, all featuring the grape
vine and its fruit; and the way the Rabbi explained the significance of
the vine to the Jewish people. Psalm 80 is very similar to Isaiah 5 as it
describes the symbolism of God’s vine – Israel – that was planted and
cared for so carefully and lovingly, and how it had become nothing but
a fruitless weed. As a gardener, I have a continuing battle with ivy vines
that have invaded my fences and are attempting to take over my garden.
I am winning that battle, but in my opinion, feral vines are really useless!

Creative pause: Rampant, feral vines can be most destructive.

The Old Testament prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Hosea1 wrote of the
symbolism of Israel as a vigorous, fruit-bearing vine that went feral. God’s
plans for that prolific vine of Israel were derailed because of the failure of
the Jewish people to remain true to their covenant relationship with God.
I live in an area very close to our university, and therefore, we have many
students sharing rental properties; and it’s amazing how quickly - within a
few weeks - a once well-tended gardens can become a rampant wilderness
through apathy and neglect. Like all gardens, weeding, pruning, feeding,
watering, and care of the root system are important aspects of gardening—
together with the gardener retaining a “big picture” image of their hopes.

Creative pause: Even the healthiest plant will fail when neglected.

The Psalmist described the destructive powers of a boar’s frenzied attack
on the original “holy vine”, resulting in the devastation of their once prolific
vine. Boars overturn and destroy all vegetation in their path as they search
for roots, fungi, insects, and nuts; and so the naming of Israel’s vine-destroyer
as a “boar” was very apt; as through their foraging, boars change the entire
eco-system, and that vine would have little hope of ever again developing a
healthy root system, much less ever developing as a strong fruit-bearing vine.

Creative pause: With the destruction of our roots, we lose our sources of nutrition.

1 Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah.2:21 & Hosea 10: 1-2

Unless stated otherwise, all Bible readings and extracts used in these weekly Prayers and
Meditations are from the ‘New Living Translation’, © 1996. Copyright. All rights reserved.
Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189 USA.

*The additional weekly numbering is from the Revised COCU Indexing Scheme
COCU = ('Consultation on Church Union'); as it offers an easy sequential numbering
for the Revised Common Lectionary for the Church Calendar.

If any part of these Prayers and/or Meditations is used in shared worship, please provide
the following acknowledgement:
© 2013 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year C. Used with permission.


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