A Call to Worship
Pentecost 20C [Ordinary 27C] or [Proper 22C] 2013
Psalm 137

Holy God, we come to worship you,
as flawed and even failed human beings.
We come, aware that God knows us for
who and what we are, and yet God loves us.

Eternal God, we come to worship you,
and despite life’s experiences, we never learn!
We come, clinging to old habits and ideas,
yet we also want to open ourselves to God.

Creative Love, we come to worship you,
believing that you love and accept us as we are,
with our personal values and experiences,
our hang-ups, our fears and our concerns.
We come, conscious that sometimes it is hard
to sing God’s praises and even pray for forgiveness
for ourselves and for others. Bless us today, Tender God. Amen.

Prayers of Lament and Petition
Pentecost 20C [Ordinary 27C] or [Proper 22C] 2013
Psalm 137

Comforting God, we come to worship you this day, amongst God’s own people—
and the people whom we claim as “our” people. We come to confess; to mourn;
to face our regrets; and to remember. Our way of life is very precious to us, and
we often try to guard ourselves against changes that disrupt our comfortable
lifestyle; but we know that life does not always stay calm and simple for us, or for
other people. We pray now for people facing changes in relationship that will bring
pain and devastation to them; for people who have been made redundant in their
employment, with its hidden or implied message that they are not wanted or needed;
and for people who are forced to relocate and begin life again in new surroundings.

Faithful God, we remember with gratitude the way we have been blessed in times
past; for the grace and forgiveness we have known from God, which has enabled
us to also be generous in our own forgiving; and for the courage God has gifted
us with as we face new and frightening situations. We also remember the times of
heartache and despair when we have felt betrayed by life; by our family and friends,
and even by God; as we struggled to understand the changes that have drastically
altered our life. In our pain, we try to blame others, regardless of the reality of that
blame. We pray for people in similar circumstances to our pain-filled memories, that
they may courageously and faithfully continue on with hope in their hearts and minds.

Healing God, we bring to you our prayers for all people who have left their homelands.
For refugees and stateless people; for migrants who want to restart their life in a new
land; and for people who have been dispossessed of their homelands that were part of
their heritage. We pray for all people who yearn to return to their former homelands, but
are prevented from that by hostile or indifferent powers or changed circumstances. We
pray for people whose traditions, religious and social cultures have been, or are being,
destroyed by thoughtless authorities. We pray for people who have no understanding or
the necessary language of their new surroundings; for asylum seekers who know that
they are not always welcome in their new situation, and who receive little encouragement.
Welcoming God, we pray that you will be a new home - an eternal home - for all these
troubled people that offers them hospitality and comfort; and teach us your own welcoming
ways, so that we can all sing the songs of the Lord with sensitivity and heartfelt thanks. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Pentecost 20C [Ordinary 27C] or [Proper 22C] 2013
Psalm 137

I often wonder about what has really happened in people’s lives, or what were
their circumstances that forced people to flee their homelands or to emigrate to
a new land, with a different language, culture and traditions; and what did they
think would happen when they reached their destination? I have always admired
and marvelled at the adventurous spirit that inspired those ancient explorers
to seek new lands and new seas; I have great respect for the inquisitive minds
that created and developed new ways of relieving exhausting manual labour, and
the scientists who develop new drugs to combat diseases; and I am in awe of
the writers, poets and musicians who open a new mental and spiritual world
to people. But how far we have travelled as a human race, and how far we have
yet to travel in matters of compassion, generosity, hospitality and spiritual growth!

Creative pause: How far do we yet have to travel to become more humane?

The Jewish people who were taken into captivity in Babylon had no idea how long
it would be before they could return to their beloved Jerusalem, with all its social
and religious significance to their nation. Yet, through their history of disobedience
to God, they never dreamed that life as they knew it would end like it did. Theirs was
not a journey of exploration with its hopes for a new beginning in life; instead, it was
a traumatic experience of degradation and despair. They lost all that identified them
as a nation under God’s holy rule and worship, with none of their sacred rites. Despite
the depths of their despair, they never lost hope for their release or their reinstatement
as God’s own people. Despite all the people’s pain and despair, it could not compare
with God’s suffering over the unfaithfulness of God’s own people! When the people
finally did call on God for help, all they cried out for was revenge for all they had lost.

Creative pause: What form do our personal laments take? Is God involved in the process?

I believe that the value and lesson of this Psalm to us as individuals, is found in the
last verses where the author asked God to act, rather than acting himself. We may not
agree with what he wanted God to do, but at least the author turned to God in his pain!
Finally, it seemed that those suffering people were able to let go their anger, and hand
it over to God, for God to act as God so chose. This brought a sense of freedom to them—
even in their captivity - to dream, to hope, and to pray. Those distressed people had the
faith and courage to hand their desire for vengeance to God; and in return, they started
the long healing process necessary for them to return home, and to truly worshipping God.

Creative pause: Our own healing and restoration can be left in God’s hands.

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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