A Call to Worship
Pentecost 20B [Ordinary 28B] or [Proper 23B] 2015
Psalm 22: 1-15

Mysterious God, you move in wonderful ways to fulfil your purposes.
We gather to: “...Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust him for
his grace; behind a frowning providence he hides a smiling face...”

Holy God, we will never know the reasons behind your actions and love;
but we gather in trust and hope: “...His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding
every hour; the bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower...”

Trustworthy God, as we struggle with our mixed emotions and our various
needs, we gather to support each other in our struggles and hopes, and to
offer our prayers of trust; and to celebrate the empowering presence of God.
Hope-fulfilling God, we confess our human failings, but we also share in a
commitment to revere our Liberating God: “...Blind unbelief is sure to err, and
scan his work in vain; God is his own interpreter, and he will make it plain...”
1 Amen.

Psalm 22: 1-15
For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be sung to the tune “Doe of the Dawn.”

1 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
2 Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.

3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them.
5 They cried out to you and were saved.
They trusted in you and were never disgraced.

6 But I am a worm and not a man. I am scorned and despised by all!
7 Everyone who sees me mocks me.
They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
8 “Is this the one who relies on the LORD?
Then let the LORD save him! If the LORD loves him so much,
let the LORD rescue him!”

9 Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb
and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.
10 I was thrust into your arms at my birth.
You have been my God from the moment I was born.

11 Do not stay so far from me, for trouble is near,
and no one else can help me.
12 My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls;
fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in!
13 Like lions they open their jaws against me,
roaring and tearing into their prey.

14 My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart is like wax, melting within me.
15 My strength has dried up like sun baked clay.
My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.

Prayers of Lament and Trust
Pentecost 20B [Ordinary 28B] or [Proper 23B] 2015
Psalm 22: 1-15

Mysterious God, we gather together because we are in need of your presence
and of your reassuring grace. We come to worship you because we need the
blessedness of your comfort and strength, even though you seem to be so far
away from us as individuals and as a faith community. We have faithfully sung
our songs of praise and thankfulness to you for your past mercies; and we have
prayed for help and guidance for the way ahead – but somehow – we still feel
lost and alone. You are our God, and we trust you – but bless us now with signs
of your presence and the assurance of your continued love and care for us all—
as we are under pressure from our doubting friends who say that you are not real!

Holy God, we will never understand the reasons or motivations behind your actions
and the reality of your love for us as fragile human beings; but we gather together in
trust and hope of the continuation of your past love for us. There were times when
we were so sure of the blessed path ahead of us, and of your guiding and supportive
presence; but now we are struggling. Yet we know that you are our God, and we
trust you – but bless us now with signs of your presence and the assurance of your
continued love and care for us all. We know that the future is in your hands, but just
give us a small hint as to how we can best serve you here where you have placed us.

Trustworthy God, you are our God, and we trust you – but we earnestly pray that you
will bless us now with the signs of your presence; as we feel weakened to the very roots
of our being; and we feel so helpless to deal with the issues that confront us. We have
tried our best to listen for your words of guidance, but we seem to receive only mixed
messages that confuse us. Have you brought us low so that we will forget our pride and
self-belief to remind us of our need to always trust and believe in you? Hope-fulfilling
God, we confess our human failings, but we also share in a commitment to revere you
as our Liberating God; and so we ask that you free us from all that is holding us back,
and inspire within us a new sense of commitment and trust in your holy and just ways. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Pentecost 20B [Ordinary 28B] or [Proper 23B] 2015
Psalm 22: 1-15

In his book “Worship in Ancient Israel – an Essential Guide” Professor Walter
Brueggemann examines the dual thrusts of “praise” and “lament”; and also the
dual emphasis on God’s “presence” and “absence” which appear all within the
same prayer/psalm. “....such utterance is both an act of glad ceding of life to
YHWH and a determined claiming of life for Israel and for self. The celebration
and the acknowledgement, the ceding and the claiming, constitute no contradiction
in the relationship; together they exhibit the play that perforce inescapably belongs
to serious, exclusive relationship marked by both freedom and commitment...”
Through our informal or formal prayers how often do our prayers have the elements
of praise, regret, petition, and thankfulness? Do we expect God to have a filing
system that sorts out all that we pray, and then God responds according to the
desires of God for that time, place, person and/or community! Yet, there is almost
a sense freedom and trust in praying what could be called “rambling” prayers; when
we pour out to God our hearts, minds and souls in fervent prayer. But, does the
format and style of our prayers really matter to God? After all – we are still praying!

Creative pause: Are your personal prayers rambling in style or very formal?

Brueggemann also writes: “...The lament...begins with a statement of intimacy
‘My God, my God.’ Such prayers of complaint and petition are characteristically
prayed not to strangers, but to those with a long history of positive interaction
with YHWH...”
3 In this section of Psalm 22, the psalmist presents a claim and a
counter-claim as he swung from positive to negative statements and back again!
Yet his very fluctuating thoughts and feelings demonstrated a trusted relationship
between the author and his God, who had shown him personal fidelity and love.

Creative pause: In the intimacy of your prayer-life, how do you express your trust in God?

Having addressed God as “My God” the author asked: “…Why are you so far away
when I groan for help…?”
Later he asked again: “…Do not stay so far from me...”
Silence and absence are two responses from God that we find most hard to deal
with – even in the most trusted of relationships! Yet all the things that identified the
psalmist as a person were under threat – his body and heart, his strength, his tongue
and his mouth – without a life, physicality, voice and means of sustaining himself, he
was finished as a person. Without those capacities he was lost – yet he had not lost
hope! He claimed his life-long relationship as proof that he was not abandoned by God.
How would you respond in such a situation – or perhaps you already have and know
from experience the true way into a new relationship of obedient trust and hope in God!

Creative pause: Have you experienced the loss of all that is precious – except God?

1 From “Together in Song” #126
“God moves in a mysterious way”
Words by William Cowper
Words are in the Public Domain

2 Text by Professor Walter Brueggemann from “Worship in
Ancient Israel – An Essential Guide”
Chapter 5, page 78
© 2005 Abingdon Press
201 Eighth Avenue South, Nashville
TN 37202-0801 USA

3 Text by Professor Walter Brueggemann
& William H Bellinger Junior from “Psalms” Psalm 22, page 114
© 2014 Cambridge University Press

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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