A Call to Worship
Pentecost 23A [Ordinary 33A] or [Proper 28A] 2014
Psalm 123

I come in worship and penitence before the King of heaven.
We come in worship and penitence before the King of heaven.

We come to lift our eyes in humble awe to the Almighty God.
We come with confident certainty that God will hear our pleas.

We come, O Lord, seeking mercy, because of the pain of our
contemptuous rejection by people who exult in humiliating us.
We give thanks that our Gracious God and King never treats
us like that, and that we can come in reverent trust to our 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 Trust and Petition
Pentecost 23A [Ordinary 33A] or [Proper 28A] 2014
Psalm 123

Holy King of the heavens and all creation, glorious in your majesty
and mighty in your compassionate power, we come as individuals
and as a community of faith to worship you, and to ask for your help.
Those people who are in power and have authority over us seem to
delight in humiliating us, making us feel small, and we have had
enough! We lift our eyes to you, asking that you hear our pleas for mercy,
and for relief from their tormenting of us. We ask, O God, for relief from
this harassment, so that we can concentrate on serving you as our
Lord and Heavenly King; and in your mercy, please hear our prayers.

Eternal King and Lord, we also lift our eyes to you as we too are feeling
overwhelmed by all that is happening in our lives, in our nation and round
the world. It seems that the big bullies still have the power to humiliate
and harass vulnerable people, for whatever reason they choose; and it
is the weak, the poor and the oppressed who bear the biggest burdens.
We look to our God who is the opposite of those who belittle us, and it is
with hope and trust that we look to God to show us God’s own the mercy.
Lord and Heavenly King, in your divine mercy, please hear our prayers.

God, our Beloved Master, we your servants look to you for guidance as
to how we may best serve you. We look to you for encouragement and
answers to life’s big questions; and with trust and hope in our hearts and
minds, as we are entirely dependent on you for all of our life and living.
Open wide our eyes, that we may learn more of God’s hope, truth, love
and especially about God’s mercy, so that with expectation in our minds
and hearts, we may learn more about our Lord and King of the universe.
Lord and Heavenly King, in your divine mercy, please hear our prayers. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Pentecost 23A [Ordinary 33A] or [Proper 28A] 2014
Psalm 123

Psalm 123 is part of the group of Psalms known as “the Ascents”, which
describe the prayers and songs the pilgrims offered to God as they made
their way towards Jerusalem for their special annual Religious Festivals.
It does not take much of an imagination to understand how the pilgrims
would have been anxious about the reception they could receive from
people who would have religious authority over them. Their journey may
have been long and dangerous, with the added risk of bandits hiding in the
hills that surround Jerusalem, but their greatest danger might well have
been from the Temple officials with their unscrupulous financial dealings—
who were empowered to take away their savings. Those pilgrims may well
have had some very unpleasant experiences in the past from arrogant
Temple officials, or have heard stories about them; so naturally they would
be apprehensive about repeat occurrences that humiliated them, when their
only desire was to worship God in the Temple and to make their offerings.

Creative pause: How do you guard your church’s good reputation?

The psalm’s imagery of a servant before an indulgent and caring master or
mistress is one of a person who has the confidence to approach their employer
with complete trust; because their relationship is one of trust and a readiness
to fulfil their employer’s every wishes. There is no fear or apprehension, but
rather, an eagerness to be obedient. It is within that special atmosphere of
trust that the psalmist imagined people looking to God for mercy and help when
they were oppressed. The “servant” may need to wait for their request/s to be
met, but they had absolute trust that their “Employer” would meet their need.

Creative pause: Do you approach God with apprehensive fear – or with trust?

As the pilgrims approached Jerusalem, their eyes would naturally look up as
they climbed that last slope to finally reach their goal. It would be also be even
more natural for them to look to the heavens to help them prepare themselves
for the worship of God. The pilgrims from rural regions would especially find
their visit to Jerusalem an overwhelming experience, and their eyes would
indeed be wide to make sure they did not miss anything important. However,
the pilgrims songs and prayers could have special added meaning after poor
or arrogant treatment from their “superiors”. “...Have mercy on us, Lord, have
mercy, for we have had our fill of contempt. We have had more than our fill of
the scoffing of the proud and the contempt of the arrogant.”
Thankfully, that was
not everyone’s experience when they visited the Temple for worship, as the Old
Testament gives us some reassurances; although the prophets certainly had their
own experiences of unfaithful worship leadership and unscrupulous misbehaviour.

Creative pause: How do we welcome strangers to our places of worship?

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:
© 2014 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year A. Used with permission.


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