A Call to Worship
Pentecost 6B [Ordinary 14B] or [Proper 9B] 2015
Psalm 123

Holy God, enthroned in glory, today I come to you in humble praise and worship.
Merciful and Generous God, today we come to you in humble praise and worship.

Welcoming God, today I come to you with confident trust and burgeoning hope.
Hospitable God, today we dare to come to you convinced of a welcome from you.

Trustworthy God, today I come to worship and praise you, even as I dare to look
up to your holiness and glory; for you always are a merciful and gracious God.
Ever-Reliable God, today we come with a life-time of confidence before our God—
who has always known of our faithful commitment to the worship and praise of God. Amen.

Psalm 123
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

1 I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven.
2 We keep looking to the LORD our God for his mercy,
just as servants keep their eyes on their master,
as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal.

3 Have mercy on us, LORD, have mercy,
for we have had our fill of contempt.
4 We have had more than our fill of the scoffing
of the proud and the contempt of the arrogant.

Prayers of Petition and Trust
Pentecost 6B [Ordinary 14B] or [Proper 9B] 2015
Psalm 123

Holy God, enthroned in glory, we come before you today in humble praise
and worship. Your awesome holiness inspires us to trust and hope in your
eternal mercy and gracious compassion; and that your abiding presence will
always encourage and inspire us to keep the focus of our eyes and our living
directed towards God, and godly matters. At times, it can be very difficult to
always be attuned to God’s ways, especially with the confusion and noise of
our daily life and its demands; yet if we fail to keep that holy focus, we are lost.
Help us always to be open to receive from God all that God gifts to us in love.

Eternal God, how blessed we are to be able to confidently come to the throne
of grace and dare to look up to the holiness of our God! It is our prayer that
we will never fail to trust in our welcoming God, and that we will always feel
“at home” in God’s presence, however often we have failed in our commitment
to our hospitable God. We come too, for encouragement and for strength from
our God because we are currently experiencing tough times because of the scorn
and even contempt we receive as we try to live in your way of love, mercy and
compassion. We also admit that at times it would be much easier let go of our
principles, and just follow the crowds of people who do not care at all about the
inequalities and injustices that people receive – but we know that is not your way.
Help us always to be open to receive, offer and share generous, sensitive care.

Ever-Reliable God, today we come in worship and praise because of our life-
time spent trusting and hoping in our God. We give thanks that we do not have
to explain ourselves to our God, because God so intimately knows us for who
and what we are, and of the commitments we have sincerely made to always the
worship and praise our God. We come seeking God’s mercy on the times we have
failed to be faithful to our promises, often made in extreme circumstances, but
nevertheless are genuine. “Have mercy on us, LORD, have mercy, have mercy.”
Help us always to be open to receive the new life that is always available in God. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Pentecost 6B [Ordinary 14B] or [Proper 9B] 2015
Psalm 123

Psalm 123 commences with recognition and acceptance of the known and unknown
ultimate power: “I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven...” The psalmist
also acknowledged the least of all powerful people – those who were/are at the mercy
of whoever is their owner or keeper. Power comes in many formats and degrees with
emotional, relational, physical, mental, spiritual, social, or financial implications. Power
and its uses or misuses are either freely given, taken or manipulated, or assumed through
the anonymous uses of hidden voices or the ballot box. However, power used wisely
can also be creative, productive, fruitful, inspired, imaginative and a great blessing to all
the recipients of the benefits of that power. Written by the Rev Steve Garnaas-Holmes
for Ascension Day: “Typically God's grace comes to us through loss. Often those who
bear witness to the Good News were escaped Hebrew slaves pining for the ease of Egypt,
Ruth bereaved in a foreign land, a prophet reflecting on exile, a family torn apart by their
son's selfishness, disciples stunned on a windswept hillside… It is in our bewilderment
and fragility that we discover God's abiding presence, solid and life-giving..”
1 “...We keep
looking to the LORD our God for his mercy...Have mercy on us, LORD, have mercy.”

Creative pause: God’s grace and mercy will come to us in our humiliating losses.

Alternatively, powerlessness is and can become debilitating, painful, humiliating and also
destructive, when there is no room for compassion, sympathy or even for humane care.
Dictionaries define “mercy” as “compassionate, kindly and forgiving treatment; or offering
understanding and lenient care to troubled/distressed people.”
In recent times, the media
has been very critical of various national government’s pleas for mercy for their accused
national detainees held in foreign imprisonment; whilst at the same time showing no mercy
to people trapped as victims in people-smuggling rackets. How is it possible to claim that
they are merciful within those definitions, whilst blatantly humiliating and scorning people
looking for a new life in another country? This is a tragedy for political and ethical debates.

Creative pause: What has happened to our personal and national consciences?

Psalm 123 is about a shared experience of people being ‘put down’ or under-valued and
various translations describe how the author was made to feel by people who were proud,
arrogant, self-confident and proud oppressors. He/she experienced their contempt, shame,
ridicule, scoffing, mockery, scorn, cruelty and derision. Most translations also refer to the
slaves/servants carefully watching the hand of their lord or lady, in the hope that it will not
be raised against them; in the event that they needed to quickly get out of the way. In sharp
contrast, that was not so when supplicants sought mercy from God! They looked with trusting,
confident hope for a continuation of God’s mercy. Professor Brueggemann writes: “...The
term ‘mercy’ signifies unconditional regard for, love that is completely gratuitous. The master
gives himself over to the well-being of the servant. It is on the basis of verses 1-2 and this
relationship of awaited mercy that the petition of verses 3-4 can now be uttered....The God
of mercy thus is presented as the alternative and antidote to unbearable relationships and
social inequality.... The prayer is an immense act of hope, a conviction that demeaning
social relationships are not the norm and need not endure. The voice of such hope grows
out of urgent need, but the grounds of such hope is in the one addressed, the God of all hope...”

Creative pause: How different are the Biblical and secular meanings of “mercy”!

1 Words by Steve Garnaas-Holmes
2015 Used with permission

2 Text by Professor Walter Brueggemann &
William H Bellinger Junior from “Psalms”
Psalm 123, page 532/3
© 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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