A Call to Worship
Pentecost 18C [Ordinary 25C] or [Proper 20C] 2013
Psalm 79: 1-9

Renewing God, we come to worship you, very conscious of our freedom to do so
Listening God, hear our fervent prayers for all your troubled and victimised people.

Restoring God, we come to share together in the pain of your suffering children.
Healing God, “...Let your tender-hearted mercies quickly meet your people’s needs”.

Enlivening God, we come to bring to you our concerns and fears for your people
who are suffering, not only because of their faith in you, but for their people’s future.
Gracious God, “help your suffering people, O God of our salvation! Help us for the
honour of your name. Save your people and forgive our sins for the sake of your name.”

Prayers of Lament and Confession
Pentecost 18C [Ordinary 25C] or [Proper 20C] 2013
Psalm 79: 1-9

Listening God, our hope and trust is in you! We come to worship you as the
God who hears and graciously responds to our prayers of confession and our
expressions of regret for our failure to be whom you created us to be. O God,
we confess that we have not been faithful to you or your Kingdom of peace
and justice; and instead, we have allowed our personal energies and time to
be used up on matters of little lasting importance or value to anyone but our
own selves and our selfish desires. Through our indifference to the suffering
and turmoil facing your people and their spiritual needs, evil has even penetrated
into the most sacred of our assemblies, which lowers the morale of people who
desperately need support and encouragement in their growth in faith and hope.
Forgive us our failure to pray for your reign of justice and peace for all people.
“Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the honour of your name. Save
us and forgive our sins for the sake of your name... for we are brought low...”

Foundational God, you are the very basis of all that we are and all that we could
be, but we confess we have limited our commitment to what you are calling us
to be and become as part of Christ’s broken Body in the world. Instead, we have
chosen to focus our attention on our own small concerns, which has allowed the
sin of pride and possessiveness to restrict our involvements. Forgive us that we
have ignored the suffering and needs of your persecuted people, and for our
shallow interest in the “outreach and mission” of the Church to suffering humanity.
Forgive us our failure to always pray for your Church as Christ’s Body in the world.
“Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the honour of your name. Save
us and forgive our sins for the sake of your name... for we are brought low...”

Holy God, yours is that capacity to forgive and forget our sin, and yours is also
the capacity to bring justice upon all those who cause people to stumble in their
hope and faith in you. The Biblical teaching of God’s jealousy over God’s own
Holy Name, and of God’s anger against injustice does not sit very comfortably
with us, because we only want God’s gracious mercy and love to be offered to
people like us; but if we are to worship the Complete and Glorious Fullness of God,
we need to pray again for help. Revered God, help us not to attempt to weigh God
down with our own spiteful and petty expectations - and to allow God to be God!
Forgive us our failure to always pray for your Kingdom which, even now, is with us.
“Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the honour of your name. Save
us and forgive our sins for the sake of your name... for we are brought low...
Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will thank you forever and
ever, praising your greatness from generation to generation. Thanks be to God!

A Personal Meditation
Pentecost 18C [Ordinary 25C] or [Proper 20C] 2013
Psalm 79: 1-9

It was my personal privilege to be in Pakistan in 2000 and to be exposed to
and to share in a little of the pain and trauma of the Pakistani Christians as
they experienced the desecration and destruction of several of their churches.
Not only were the buildings destroyed or desecrated, but their sacred liturgical
furnishings and items were vulgarly misused or destroyed. The grief and loss
they experienced over these events were heightened by their strong belief that
God’s own Holy Being had also been desecrated by these actions. As I again
read Psalm 79, the similarities were striking between the Pakistani’s pain and
grief and that of the Israeli’s tormented pain; however, the people of Israel’s pain
was made greater by the vile way those victims were deprived of their sacred
burial rites and their mourning customs; quite apart from the loss of their leaders.

Creative pause: What do the symbols we use in worship tell us about God?

While in Lahore in Pakistan, the church I attended was totally surrounded by the
homes of the people who worshipped there, so that they could protect their church,
but also to literally make their church and its worship the centre of their life. Can
we identify with these persecuted people as to the centrality of worship of God in
our life? This very challenging Psalm asks us some very penetrating questions that
can very easily unsettle you and me. “...O Lord, how long will you be angry with us?
Forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire...?”
These are questions not only
for individuals, but also must be considered by communities of faith. Our individual
and shared responses will determine where we are in our faith journey, and whether
we are prepared to lament and repent of our failings, and to hand them all over to God.

Creative pause: When did you last hand your troubles over to God to be resolved?

In addition to their personal loss and grief, these ancient people suffered greatly from
the loss of their Temple and of the holy city of Jerusalem, which cut right to the heart
of their identity as God’s own people. With the loss of the Temple, the entire focus of
their life was lost and they became rudderless in their grief. However, their pain was
as nothing, in comparison to God’s own pain! Brueggemann1 suggests we leave God
to handle all the seemingly conflicting actions and powers of vengeance and mercy!

Creative pause: Are we willing to leave God to handle our life’s messes?

1 Based on text by Professor Walter Brueggemann
from “The Message of the Psalms” [chapter3, page 73]
©1984 Augsburg Publishing House

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.


Download/view a pdf file of this document here: pentecost18[25]c_2013.pdf