A Call to Worship
Pentecost 15B [Ordinary 23B] or [Proper 18B] 2015
Psalm 125

God, the Rock of steadfast and eternal love, we gather to worship you:
Trustworthy God, we come with thankful songs of praise and celebration.

God, whose arms embrace all those who gather in reverence to honour you:
Accepting God, we come today with prayers and praises to worship only you.

God, whose strength and majesty surrounds us with everlasting love and care;
and whose integrity and fidelity is beyond question; we gather to praise you.
Encouraging and Enabling God, in humility and honesty, we join with your
faithful people, as together we gather within your eternally welcoming arms. Amen.

Psalm 125
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

1 Those who trust in the LORD are as secure as Mount Zion;
they will not be defeated but will endure forever.
2 Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people, both now and forever.

3 The wicked will not rule the land of the godly,
for then the godly might be tempted to do wrong.

4 O LORD, do good to those who are good,
whose hearts are in tune with you.
5 But banish those who turn to crooked ways, O LORD.
Take them away with those who do evil.

May Israel have peace!

Prayers of Trust
Pentecost 15B [Ordinary 23B] or [Proper 18B] 2015
Psalm 125

Trustworthy God, the Rock of steadfast and eternal love, upon whose love
and mercy we can place our complete trust; we gather to worship you with
thankful songs of praise and celebration. Unchanging God, you are always
our Strength and our Hope, as our faith and life has taught us that you are
utterly to be relied upon to hear and answer our prayers; and to grant us your
guidance and blessing. God of the past, we celebrate your faithfulness and
reliability; God of the present, we rejoice in your stability and consistency;
and God of the future, we anticipate that the reality of your eternal presence
will forever be made known to us as we live in trusting obedience to your ways.

God, our Guardian and Guide, the warmth of your near presence is like a
trusted embrace, and so we gather in reverent awe to honour you, secure in
the knowledge that you will never leave us or forsake us; and that your arms
are always open to us when we come in praise and thankfulness to worship
you. In trust and with a fully justified hope, we gather as a community of faith
to proclaim the wonders of our Lord and God; and to celebrate all that our God
has been and done for us. We acknowledge that we live in a world where evil
is seen and experienced, yet it is with a sincere trust in our God that we leave
this world and its peoples - which were created in love - to God’s grace and mercy.

Majestic God, you surround us with your strength, which is expressed to us all
through your everlasting fidelity, your love and your care for all that you created.
We give thanks for the sights and sounds of this world that speak and show us
that you are utterly to be trusted because of your eternal faithfulness and integrity.
Holy God, we give thanks that you have expressed yourself through human love
and trusting relationships, which has enabled us to trust in all that we have learned
and known of your faithful and steadfast love; and your open and welcoming arms. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Pentecost 15B [Ordinary 23B] or [Proper 18B] 2015
Psalm 125

In the language of the Psalms, mountains – both large and small – are eternally
ageless; and are usually described as being immovable or even unshakable; they
are strong and reliable rocky formations that are often described as a place of shelter
or security; and a place that offers a defence to all the vulnerable who hide within
their walls. Just as the mountains are a shelter for the oppressed, in Psalm 9:9 “the
Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble”;
and in Psalm 144:2,
it is said that: “the Lord is my loving ally and my fortress, my tower of safety, my
rescuer. He is my shield, and I take refuge in him…”
In Psalm 76:4, God is more
“glorious and more majestic than the everlasting mountains…”; in Psalms 29 and 114,
the mountains skip and play like goats, lambs, rams, calves and young bulls; and in
Psalm 36:6 God’s “righteousness is like the mighty mountains...” The various authors
of the psalms found a close connection between God and mountains for dependability.

Creative pause: “You [God] are glorious and more majestic than the everlasting mountains”1

“…Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people,
both now and forever...”
The physicality of these words remind us of the steadfast
and secure love of God who “surrounds” God’s people always and forever. If I were
to paraphrase that verse, my choice of words would be: “Just as the mountains cradle
Jerusalem in their supporting arms, so the Lord God cradles his beloved and faithful
people now and forever.”
There is an intimacy hinted at in the psalm that encourages
us to think of God’s arms securely around us, just as God’s own presence surrounded
Jerusalem; and that intimacy suggest both holding and touching. The intimacy of a
trusted touch is very precious, and creates an instinctive and responsive reaction that
encourages a desire to return that touch – and so an expression of love is exchanged.

Creative pause: The Lord God cradles his beloved and faithful people now and forever.

The miracle of an embryo developing its five senses whilst in the womb shows how
God understands our humanity and our need to be touched in love and care. It is
remarkable that an eight week embryo is already developing a sense of touch and
responds to that touch by either drawing closer or moving away from that touch; and
as the baby develops, so does the sensitivity to touch increase, until the baby in the
womb can be stimulated or quietened by the touch of external massage. Do we ever
grow out of the need for being lovingly touched, cuddled or embraced? When I again
became a single woman, one of the things I missed most about being in a marriage
relationship was being cuddled – and that need has never changed - with the very human
need for trusted intimacy. The spiritual intimacy that is part of the act of “Passing the
can be open to abuse; or it can be a holy and needed gift. Yet however healing
are the touches of loved ones, God’s touch of grace goes beyond all that could be
dreamed or imagined. “Healing is your touch, O God, renewing the spirit of the broken…”2

Creative pause: “Healing is your touch O God, renewing the spirit of the broken.”2

1 Psalm 76:4a (NLT)

2 From “A Special Collection” CD
“Healing is your touch, O God”
Words and music by Sister Monica Brown
© 2000 Monica Brown & Emmaus Productions
Used with personal permission

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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