Holy God: How can anyone stay pure in this world that is so tainted?
A Call to Worship
Lent 5B 2018
Psalm 119: 9-16
We praise you for the gift to us of your commandments to help us live.
Guiding God: each day we praise you for your presence here with us.
Your presence within helps us to faithfully love and serve in your name.
Blessing God: we praise you for the way you bless us each day and night—
help us always to be aware of your Holy Presence and teach us your ways.
We praise you for the trust you place in us to be your agent in the world,
as we try to live in ways that are peace-making, generous and compassionate. Amen.
Psalm 119: 9-16
9 How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.
10 I have tried hard to find you - don’t let me wander from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
12 I praise you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.
13 I have recited aloud all the regulations you have given us.
14 I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches.
15 I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.
16 I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.
Prayers of Praise
Holy God: How can anyone stay pure in this world that is so tainted by sin and selfish
Lent 5B 2018
Psalm 119: 9-16
greed? Despite this, we place our hope and trust in you and in your commandments!
Today, we praise you for your gift to us of your commandments that were given to help
us live together as your people within a community of faith, a local community, or in a
wider community. They help us to understand the priorities of living as your people, to
love and worship God; and to express that holy relationship in all our other relationships.
It is with joy-filled hearts, we together sing our praises for all God’s goodness to us all:
“Joyfully shout all you on earth, give praise to the glory of God; and with a hymn sing
out his glorious praise; alleluia! All you nations sing out your joy to the LORD: Alleluia!..”1
Guiding God: every day we praise you for your presence here with us that helps us to
love and serve you in faithful responses to your goodness to us. We praise our God for
the people who in the past have been our mentors, teachers and leaders; and for the
wisdom and strength they gave to us when we were troubled and in distress. We praise
you for your faithful people through the centuries who have continued to lead godly
lives, even while under stress or persecution; and we give thanks for the vision they had
of your Kingdom present and active in the world. “…Lift up your hearts, sing to your God:
tremendous his deeds for us all…! All you nations sing out your joy to the LORD: Alleluia!..”1
Blessing God: we praise you for the way you bless us each day and night in so many
different ways; and we confess that we often fail to give you our thanks and praise for
your generosity towards us. We pray that you will help us always to be aware of your
Holy Presence with us, teaching us your ways of peace and justice. We praise you for
the trust you place in us to be your servants in the world, as we try to live in ways that
are godly, generous, loving and compassionate. “…Let all the earth kneel in your sight,
extolling your marvellous fame; LORD, you brought your people into your peace… Lift
up your hearts, sing to your God: All you nations sing out your joy to the LORD: Alleluia!...”1 Amen.
A Personal Meditation
As mentioned many times, Psalm 119 is an acrostic psalm, which means that
Lent 5B 2018
Psalm 119: 9-16
each line within the 22 sections commences with the sequential letters of the
Hebrew alphabet – and amazing feat of sheer inspiration! Today’s section starts
with a question and answer: “…How can a young person stay pure? By obeying
your word…” Why are young people highlighted in this verse? Is it because they
are probably the most vulnerable of age groups? I have rearranged the verses
according to the three tenses, past, present and future as a response to that
question. The present tense statement is a continuous song and prayer of praise!
“…I praise you, O LORD…” followed by a request: “…teach me your decrees…”
As we have reflected on Psalm 119 over the years in these pages, we could learn
much from verse 12 - by continuously praising God and learning more about God.
|Creative pause:||“...I praise you, O LORD; teach me your decrees…”|
The past tense section of these verses can also teach us more about reflecting on
and confessing our sin; and praying for God’s help to overcome these temptations.
“…I have tried hard to find you - don’t let me wander from your commands. I have
hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. I have recited aloud
all the regulations you have given us. I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in
riches…” The psalmist sounds so very human as we, too, struggle to live godly lives,
but often we search for God in the wrong places, or else we listen to the wrong advice.
“…I have tried hard to find you…” followed by another request: “…don’t let me wander
from your commands…” How easy it is to be side-tracked by apparently irrelevant
thoughts when praying! I remember being once told that if my mind wandered when
I was praying, the thoughts that intrude are what I really should be praying about!
Do you agree with that advice? Maybe your distractions are very different to mine!
|Creative pause:||“…don’t let me wander from your commands…”|
The future tense section of verses is about the various commitments we make to God—
but do we keep them? “…I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.
I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word…” The important words here are
“I will”; “reflect” “delight” and “not forget”. “I will” – this is something for which only you
are accountable; and it is only you who has to take responsibility for those promised
actions. The other highlighted words: “reflect” “delight” and “not forget” – each of which
are to do with our will and our mind; and are actions that we deliberately choose to do.
Yet, “delight” is something quite different to a disciplined approach of reflection and study.
When we “delight” in something, we have an intense feeling of joy, pleasure, satisfaction,
even of enchantment or glee – a lovely old fashioned word that is so appropriate for our
responses to God! Finding delight in God is a lifetime adventure, to which God encourages
and empowers us to enter into. Have you ever consciously “delighted” in God’s presence?
|Creative pause:||Have you ever deliberately “delighted” in your relationship with God?|
1 From “Together in Song” #36
“All you nations sing out your joy to the LORD”
Paraphrased Psalm by Lucien Deiss 1921-
Used with Permission,
Word of Life International Licence #2425
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 119.
Used with permission.
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