God who is forever ‘Undiminished Light’: in our secret darkness, we come to you.
A Call to Worship
Lent 3B 2018
In humility we pray: “Dear LORD and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways...”1
God of glory and wonder: we come with our broken relationships and sin-filled lives.
In remorse we pray: “…let our ordered lives confess the beauty of Thy peace…”1
God of wisdom and grace: we come to you with our worship, offering to you praises
and thanks for your generous compassion towards us – your own beloved creation.
We make our confessions and pray that God will “…Breathe through the heats of our
desire Thy coolness and Thy balm; let sense be dumb, let flesh retire…”1 and may
we know and experience that “…still, small Voice of calm…”1 that is God-with-us. Amen.
For the choir director: A psalm of David.
1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
2 Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
3 They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard
4 Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world.
God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
5 It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.
6 The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end.
Nothing can hide from its heat.
7 The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul.
The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
8 The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are clear, giving insight for living.
9 Reverence for the LORD is pure, lasting forever.
The laws of the LORD are true; each one is fair.
10 They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.
11 They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.
12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.
14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Prayers of Confession
God who is forever ‘Undiminished Light, we gather together to share in the worship
Lent 3B 2018
of our God, whom we celebrate as being the Light who gives us hope in our own—
or in our shared darkness. We know and acknowledge that we have chosen to live
our lives filled with selfish indulgence; with indifference to the needs of our friends
and neighbours; and with childish apathy to the realities of what it means to be in
responsible relationships. We come together to confess to you, and to each other,
that we have failed in so many different ways; and in humility we pray: “Dear LORD
and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways...”.1 Forgive and bless us today.
God of glory and wonder: today we come with our broken relationships and sin-filled
lives, seeking forgiveness to each of our confessed failings and sin. We do not want
to wallow in our sinfulness, or try to outdo each other in our confessions! Instead, we
are trying to respond to the holiness and sacred presence of God - who is with us; so
in remorse we pray: “…let our ordered lives confess the beauty of Thy peace…”1
Grant to us, O God, your forgiveness, your blessings, and your own special peace.
God of wisdom and grace: we come to you with our worship, offering to you our praise
and thanks for your generous compassion towards us – your own beloved creation. At
times, when we fail you and ourselves, we wonder whether you can possibly be gracious
enough to forgive and heal us - individually and collectively with your merciful love! We
give thanks for the opportunity when each time we share in worship, we can make our
confessions to you; aware of the pain our sin causes to God, to others, and to ourselves.
We pray that as we make our confessions, that God will “…Breathe through the heats
of our desire Thy coolness and Thy balm; let sense be dumb, let flesh retire…”1 and
may we know and experience that “…still, small Voice of calm…”1 that is God-with-us. Amen.
A Personal Meditation
Psalm 19 is a celebration of the glory of God – so beautifully described as light—
Lent 3B 2018
that undefined and open-ended understanding both of God - and of light! Yet, in
this season of Lent and the celebration of God’s glory, we are also challenged to
discover and accept the darkness that is within each one of us! “…How can I know
all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your
servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt
and innocent of great sin…” We are blessed by many hymns and songs categorised
as “Repentance” and “Confession”, and one of the most beautiful of these hymns is:
“Dear LORD and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways; reclothe us in our rightful
mind, in purer lives Thy service find, in deeper reverence, praise…”1 There are new
and revised wording to this old favourite - but for me – these are the choicest words!
|Creative pause:||“Dear LORD and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways…”1|
I will never forget the first time I heard African-American women singing that spiritual
song “The Balm of Gilead”, as they remembered their past and even present history—
symbolising and celebrating their faith and trust in God’s forgiving and saving actions.
The balm of Gilead was a perfume extracted from a camphor poplar tree, but it was
also used medicinally; and it became synonymous with spiritual healing. Jeremiah’s
prayerful lament was the source of this old spiritual song: “My grief is beyond healing;
my heart is broken. Listen to the weeping of my people; it can be heard all across the
land. ‘Has the LORD abandoned Jerusalem?’ the people ask…I hurt with the hurt of my
people. I mourn and am overcome with grief. Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there
no physician there? Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people…”2 Those
wounds the people experienced were the results of their unfaithfulness to God; and that
faithful prophet Jeremiah grieved on their behalf for their sinfulness. Similarly, author
Whittier prayed: “…Drop Thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease; take from
our souls the strain and stress, and let our ordered lives confess the beauty of Thy peace…”1
|Creative pause:||“…Drop Thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease…”1|
Is a person who believes that there is even within the deepest darkness of any - or all—
souls, a touch of indestructible beauty and holiness from God’s presence within – albeit
hidden or hard to find - a naïve optimist; or someone with deep faith in the God of love—
who is forever the Undiminished Light? Or is it that we dare not recognise that darkness
within ourselves; and instead, we cling to the hope that God will forgive all those deliberate
and lurking sins we like to keep quiet about? We join with the psalmist’s prayer: “…Don’t
let them control me…” or we pray along with Whittier: “…Breathe through the heats of our
desire Thy coolness and Thy balm; let sense be dumb, let flesh retire; speak through the
earthquake, wind, and fire, O still, small Voice of calm…”.1 As we reflect on the wonder of
the impact of God as forever being ‘Undiminished Light’ of God shining into our darkness,
may we know the joy and peace of the healing balm of repentance and confession; and God’s
forgiveness and mercy. May we each learn how to control our earthly desires; and to teach
our senses to rejoice in the inspiring presence of God - who brings light into our darkness.
|Creative pause:||“…Breathe through the heats of our desire Thy coolness and Thy balm...”1|
1 From “The Australian Hymn Book” #519
“Dear LORD and Father of mankind”
Words by John Greenleaf Whittier
Words are in the Public Domain
2 Jeremiah 8: 18-19a, 21-22 (NLT)
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 help and inspiration so frequently available from the writings of Professor Walter Brueggemann and Professorial brothers Rolf and Karl Jacobson; and the resources from "The Text this Week" (Textweek).
If the Prayers and/or Meditation are used in shared worship, please provide this acknowledgement:
© 2018 Joan Stott –‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year B. Based on verses from Psalm 19.
Used with permission.
Download/view a pdf file of this document here: lent3b_2018.pdf