A Call to Worship
Pentecost 9C [Ordinary 16C] or [Proper 11C] 2013
Psalm 52

God of wisdom and grace, we gather to worship and praise you.
May we each learn from God, the blessings of justice and mercy.

God of justice and fairness, we gather to pray, sing and revere you.
May we each learn from God, the joys of compassion and gentleness.

God of unfailing love, may the reality of your wisdom, grace, justice
and good will, help us to flourish, and bear much fruit for God’s glory.
God, our God, we praise you for the mercies you pour on your people—
and may we each become like a vigorous tree, that grows, thrives and
bears fruit to bring glory to God’s merciful presence and unfailing love. Amen.

Prayers of Lament and Confession
Pentecost 9C [Ordinary 16C] or [Proper 11C] 2013
Psalm 52

Justice-loving God, we come to worship you this day, conscious
of our own failings, and also our failure to be accepting of people’s
problems; and for wanting to set ourselves up as judge and jury, so
easily condemning people without knowing their circumstances, or
the pain or difficulties under which they live. Forgive us when we
applaud other people’s mistakes; when we find delight in their faulty
decision-making; and when we boast about our own superior skills
and wisdom, and our claims that we always know better than others.

Accepting God, we come to give thanks that you accept us for who we
are and what we seek to become; and yet we still deny other people
the possibilities that they are also loved by God. Instead, we find fault
with them because they think and act in ways that are different to our
ways. We also assume that “our way” makes us more worthy and more
loveable to God, than any other people’s ways. Forgive us when we
judge people using ill-informed assessments; baseless claims; and
faulty logic as to the worth of people; and especially their worth to God!
Forgive us our gleeful claims that God loves us more than anyone else.

Generous God, forgive us our lack of trust in you and your forgiving ways
of love, justice and acceptance. We give thanks for the gentle ways you are
able to remodel us, so that we grow stronger, and become more accepting—
just as our Gracious God is accepting of us. The Psalmist used the concept
of his life being just like an olive tree, and of the possibility of him thriving and
growing because of his close and worshipful relationship with God. Forgive
us when we have deliberately limited our personal openness to God through
our pride and self-interest; and renew us in faith, hope, trust and love, so that
we too grow stronger through the nourishment you give to our roots; so that
we produce much fruit, that eventually becomes the symbol of dedication and
holiness, as the olive oil is used to God’s greater glory. Just like the “tree of life”,
may our leaves become a source for healing and health for the world’s nations.5 Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Pentecost 9C [Ordinary 16C] or [Proper 11C] 2013
Psalm 52

People handle personal or other episodes of vengeance in various ways and
in Psalm 52: 7 there is a very familiar tone of criticism and judgement. The
people and/or the author wanted swift and sure vengeance from God against
those perpetrating violence and abuse. The author was extremely scathing
of his “enemies” and their motives and actions; and the “the righteous” people’s
actions are also to be regretted! The ancient words of Moses remind us of what
God said to him: “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it. …
Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them. Indeed,
the Lord will judge his people….”
1 And Paul adds to these ancient words in his
letter to the Roman church: “… and gave Moses’ words a new twist: “…Don't let
evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good…”
2 Personally, one of
the hardest things for me is not to try to strike back at people who have sought
through abuse, to cause me anguish and pain. As I grow older – it doesn’t get
any easier to forget, or be forgiving, or to offer love in response to such abuse!

Creative pause: Ancient words take on a different direction through enlightenment.

In verse 7 of the Psalm, the New Living Translation uses the term “mighty warriors”
as an example of people who do not trust in God, whereas in some of the other
“working translations” I use have more general descriptions: “...See the one who
would not take refuge in God, but trusted in abundant riches, and sought refuge
in wealth!”
3 “Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but
trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!”
4 Each of these
examples have used “wealth” as one of the main reasons for their lack of trust in
God. However, I believe that poverty, the daily grind of living with acute hardship,
and the lack of appropriate services or support and encouragement also creates
a lack of trust in God, because rather than blaming society’s apathy and disinterest
in their impoverished condition, often they seem to blame God for their poverty and
apparent lack of opportunities for a better life; or for a better job, or a better home-life.
The Psalmist rejoices in the Lord: “… I will praise you forever, O God, for what you
have done. I will wait for your mercies in the presence of your people….”
God sets
the standards of goodness, mercy, compassion and care for all who trust in God.

Creative pause: God sets the standards for goodness, mercy, loving compassion and care.

It is interesting that Psalm 52 followed on straight after David’s “penitential” Psalm
Did David learn anything from that experience of self-examination before God?
David then acclaimed and celebrated God’s goodness and mercy; and praised
God, promising to always trust in God, and pledged: “I will wait for your mercies
in the presence of your people….”
Thankfully, David was deeply loved by God,
ensuring that through the many Psalms written by him, or ascribed to him, we
have been enriched because of the breadth of David’s life and faith experiences.

Creative pause: Thankfully, God sees us through the eyes of love and compassion!

1 Deuteronomy 32: 35-36a (NLT)

2 Romans 12: 21 (NLT)

3 ‘The New Revised Standard Version’
Copyright ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

4 ‘New International Version’
Copyright © 1979 Reissued in 1973 & 1978
Published by New York International Bible Society.
All rights reserved.

5 Revelations 22: 2

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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