Sunday August 14, 2022
Praying the Psalms -Prayers of Joy
Life and Work of our Church
We are one as we come, as we come, joyful to be here,
In the praise on our lips there’s a sense that God is near.
We are one as we sing, as we seek we are found;
And we come needful of God’s grace as we meet together in this place.
Acknowledging the Territory
As we begin our worship, we take a moment to acknowledge that the land upon which we live, work and worship is, by law, the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people. We offer our deep gratitude for this land and or those who have cared for it long before our ancestors arrived. We commit ourselves to live with respect upon it, seeking justice and equality for all.
Lighting the Christ Candle
We light this candle as a sign of God’s Light and God’s Spirit at work in the world. May its light brighten our spirits, ignite our passions and shine within and through each one of us to offer light and love to others.
Call to Worship – inspired by material written by Thom Shuman –
We gather to worship the One who crafted creation out of chaos, beginning the wondrous concerto of life.
Birds carry the melody while stars keep the beat; mountains dance in merriment and little children clap their hands with joy.
Believing we cannot carry a tune, we hesitate to join in the chorus of praise sung by all creation.
Yet softly and gently Divine Love hums the melody into our hearts until it burst forth, into a rousing chorus of joyous praise.
And so we gather, the young and the old, the tone deaf and the perfect-pitched, to lift a new song of faith to our Music-making, Love Composing, God.
Opening Prayer — written by Moira Laidlaw
We, who so often take the wonders of creation for granted, welcome the opportunity to make a joyful noise before you, Divine One. We come here this morning to worship and to praise you, glad that we live in this country filled with such diverse and beautiful examples of your creation. Yet, joyful noises are not easy for everyone to make. We come from differing situations and lifestyles. Some are burdened down with the stresses of daily living and all that involves. Some are wearied from the tasks of serving others. Some are worried over the state of the world and fear where we are headed. Speak to us all, Divine Love, in the stillness of this time together, reminding us of the unending hope and joy you offer us through your grace and love. Amen.
Gift of Music Make a Joyful Noise #820
The last two weeks we have looked at some of the Psalms that speak to us in the dark and difficult times of live. This week we look at psalms of absolute Joy.
Psalm 9:1-2, 7-11 (Good News Translation)
I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the wonderful things you have done. I will sing with joy because of you. I will sing praise to you, Almighty God. The Lord is king forever; he has set up his throne for judgment. He rules the world with righteousness; he judges the nations with justice. The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a place of safety in times of trouble. Those who know you, Lord, will trust you; you do not abandon anyone who comes to you. Sing praise to the Lord, who rules in Zion! Tell every nation what he has done!
Psalm 66:1-8 (Good News Translation)
Praise God with shouts of joy, all people! Sing to the glory of his name; offer him glorious praise! Say to God, “How wonderful are the things you do! Your power is so great that your enemies bow down in fear before you. Everyone on earth worships you; they sing praises to you, they sing praises to your name.” Come and see what God has done, his wonderful acts among people. He changed the sea into dry land; our ancestors crossed the river on foot. There we rejoiced because of what he did. He rules forever by his might and keeps his eyes on the nations. Let no rebels rise against him. Praise our God, all nations; let your praise be heard.
Psalm 95:1-7 (Good News Translation)
Come, let us praise the Lord! Let us sing for joy to God, who protects us! Let us come before him with thanksgiving and sing joyful songs of praise. For the Lord is a mighty God, a mighty king over all the gods. He rules over the whole earth, from the deepest caves to the highest hills. He rules over the sea, which he made; the land also, which he himself formed. Come, let us bow down and worship him; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! He is our God; we are the people he cares for, the flock for which he provides.
Psalm 98 (Good News Translation)
Sing a new song to the Lord; he has done wonderful things! By his own power and holy strength he has won the victory. The Lord announced his victory; he made his saving power known to the nations. He kept his promise to the people of Israel with loyalty and constant love for them. All people everywhere have seen the victory of our God. Sing for joy to the Lord, all the earth; praise him with songs and shouts of joy! Sing praises to the Lord! Play music on the harps! Blow trumpets and horns, and shout for joy to the Lord, our king. Roar, sea, and every creature in you; sing, earth, and all who live on you! Clap your hands, you rivers; you hills, sing together with joy before the Lord, because he comes to rule the earth. He will rule the peoples of the world with justice and fairness.
Psalm 100 (Good News Translation)
Sing to the Lord, all the world! Worship the Lord with joy; come before him with happy songs! Acknowledge that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to him; we are his people, we are his flock. Enter the Temple
gates with thanksgiving; go into its courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise him. The Lord is good;
his love is eternal and his faithfulness lasts forever.
Praying the Psalms – Prayers of Joy
I imagine a fair number of you are breathing a bit of a sigh of relief right now. After 2 weeks of sin and distress, it’s nice to get back to joy, right? Well, that may be, but it is important to realize that all of the distress and difficulties of life do not have to disappear before we can experience the true deep joy expressed in the psalms.
Sometimes the deepest joy is found in the most unexpected of places. There is a wonderful story about an old carpenter who, during the depression volunteered to help build some shipping crates for his church. The church had collected clothing that was to be sent to an orphanage in China.
After carefully nailing the lid closed on the last crate, the man headed home feeling pretty good. Despite the fact that he had barely enough to feed his own family, he was so pleased to have been able to help someone else. He thanked God for having given him the opportunity.
Unfortunately, when he arrived home and reached into his shirt pocket to take out his glass, he realized they were missing. He had probably dropped them at the church, but there would be no one there at this hour. He wasn’t terribly worried because someone would certainly find them and return them. In the morning, he called the church and was promised that someone would make a careful search for the lost glasses. The search however came up empty and despite repeated pleas for anyone who had found the missing glasses to return them, the spectacles were never recovered.
The frustrated carpenter was angry and perhaps a bit bitter. Although he was not as badly off as some people during those difficult years, he was barely managing and he certainly couldn’t afford a new pair of glasses.
“It’s not fair,” he told his pastor. “I’ve done my best to support the church. Even when I haven’t been able to give as much as I would like, I have given of my time and efforts to make up for what I can’t give financially. And what happens? Someone walks off with my glasses. Why would God do this to me?”
Some time later, the carpenter attended a special event at his church. One of the missionaries from the orphanage in China was returning home and wanted to thank the congregation for all the support they had provided. He began by talking about the children and how grateful they were for the clothing that had been provided as well as for the financial support that allowed them to buy food.
He went on to say, “On a personal note, I can’t thank you enough for the glasses you sent last year. Our orphanage had just been raided and what had not been stolen had been destroyed, including my glasses. I was desperate. Even if I had had the money there was no way I could replace them. Without my glasses I not only struggled to read and to carry on my daily duties, but I suffered terrible head aches.”
“When we opened the crate and saw those glasses sitting on top of the clothing, it was a prayer answered. Not only did they fit me perfectly but I was able to carry on with no more head aches. It was like they were custom made for me.”
The majority of those gathered there looked confused. They didn’t remember sending any glasses with the clothing they had sent. But the carpenter sitting at the back of the church realized with tears in his eyes what had happened. His missing glasses must have slipped out of his pocket as he bent over the crate and he had sealed them inside.
A deep sense of wonder, gratitude and joy filled the man’s heart and he laughed out loud. What had seemed like a disaster and perhaps even a punishment to him had become one of the greatest blessings and greatest joys of his life.
I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the wonderful things you have done. I will sing with joy because of you.
The joy that the psalmist talks about, the joy that the carpenter experienced is the joy of recognizing the Divine at work in the ordinary. It is the joy of being able to see beyond the circumstance to the possibility of deeper and richer meaning and blessing even in something we do not necessarily recognize as a gift or opportunity. It is the joy of knowing that something much greater than our own intentions, our own plans or our own expectations is at work in our lives.
But the psalmist doesn’t stop there. He also goes on to express the wonder that all of creation is, in fact, filled with the joy of the Divine. Roar, sea, and every creature in you; sing, earth, and all who live on you! Clap your hands, you rivers; you hills, sing together with joy before the Lord.
I remember visiting a beach on the shores of Lake Huron with my family a very long time ago. The beach is called Singing Sands. As the wind whips through the sand dunes along the shoreline, you can actually hear it whistle. At times it literally sounds like the sand around you is singing.
I also remember as a child, a brook that ran through the property behind the house where we lived. Although at this time of year it was often nothing more than a dry ditch, in the Spring it filled with water, and as the water raced over the rocks it often formed tiny eddies in the stream. The water gurgling in these eddies sounded almost like laughter. We took to calling it the laughing brook.
Wind whistling through the trees, waves gently lapping on the shore, rain tapping on a window, even the sounds of distant thunder are often used to sooth people who have trouble falling asleep. Add to that the cry of a loon, the singing of the birds, the howl of a wolf, the humming of bees or the chirping of crickets or cicadas and most people relax into a sense of peace and comfort. And who here can help but feel a sense of joy and excitement at the sound of the first spring peepers?
All of creation, when we take the time to actually stop and pay attention, is filled with sounds of joy. Creatures of all sorts express joy in the sounds they make and in the way they run, and jump, and play. Sing to the Lord, all the world! Worship the Lord with joy … Clap your hands … sing together with joy before the Lord.
Yet despite this, all too often human being, seem to miss the simple joys that surround us and see only the misfortunes and difficulties. If you were to judge the state of our world by the nightly news you would think that there is only pain, suffering and sorrow in our world. If you ask the majority of people, they would likely tell you that things are uncertain and a bit frightening right now.
And still, the psalmist encourages us, Praise God with shouts of joy … Sing to the Lord, all the world! Worship the Lord with joy; come before him with happy songs! Acknowledge that the Lord is God.
There is a wonderful picture I saw recently of a child standing in the middle of a downpour, obviously soaked to the skin, with her arms outstretched, her eyes wide and her mouth open in the biggest smile you could imagine. The caption simply reads, “Choose Joy”.
It is a choice. We can choose to focus on the negative, on the struggles and worries, on the unexpected disappointments and challenges, or we can choose to focus on Joy. The choice may not always be clear. How can we find joy in a situation that seems to have no ‘up’ side? How can we find joy when we are struggling with situations that cause us stress, worry, hardship or pain?
In the story I began with this morning, the carpenter chose to focus on the worry, the disappointment, and the financial hardship he was experiencing as a result of the loss of his glasses. He became angry and felt like it was unfair that such a thing should happen to him.
It was not until he found out what had actually happened that he was able to set aside his own limited, personal viewpoint and see the great joy that someone else had experienced because of what had happened.
We all have opportunities every day to choose joy. Sometimes those choices are easy; the joy of sharing a meal with family or friend, the joy of watching a beautiful sunset or sunrise, the joy of walking on a beach, the joy of seeing, hearing or experiencing the wonder of creation.
But sometime we must choose joy, not because of what is happening, but in spite of it. Sometimes we must choose joy simply because, no matter what is happening, we believe that God loves us, cares for us and that, in the end, God can bring goodness and joy from even the worst situation.
[God] rules the world with righteousness; he judges the nations with justice. The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a place of safety in times of trouble. Those who know you, Lord, will trust you; you do not abandon anyone who comes to you … Tell every nation what [God] has done! … Sing for joy to the Lord, all the earth; praise him with songs and shouts of joy! Amen.
Gift of Music All People That on Earth Do Dwell #822
We Offer Our Gifts
When we feel joy and adoration, those feelings call us to respond. One of the ways we, as a church, respond is through our gifts. In this church we do not pass the offering plates but ask you, if you chose to support the work of this church financially, you place your offering in the offering plates at the back of the church or make arrangement to give through PAR or through online donations. But always remember that our financial gifts are only one of the ways we respond to God. We respond with all that we are and all that we do. And so now, as we bring forward some of the gifts we offer, let us sing our offertory response.
Offertory Response #538
For the gift of creation, the gift of your love and the gift of the Spirit
by which we live, we thank you and give you the fruit of our hands.
May your grace be proclaimed by the gifts that we give.
As you have blessed us in all that you have given us, we ask that you will bless the gifts that we bring that they too may become a blessing. Amen.
We Offer Our Prayers
God is always as near as our next breath. God always listen when we pray, whether those prayers are written down and placed in our prayer jar or whether they as said in the silence of our hearts. So let us bring our silent, personal prayers to God with confidence, knowing that they are always heard … Amen.
Minute for Mission
Prayers of the People
We thank you, Divine One, Eternal Guide, Holy Friend, for the gift of light, of love and of holy joy. Before the beginning of time, when space and time did not exist, your love dreamed a vision of hope, peace and joy for all that you created. You dreamed of balance, justice and equality in all creation. You dreamed of a creation in which all that had been created would nurture, care for and create in response. You created a world based on hope and promise.
Yet through the turmoil of history, your creation has often forgotten the promise of hope, love and joy.
We have forgotten your promise of enough for all and have horded the wealth that your creation provides. We have not shared equally with all people and instead have allowed wealth and poverty, gluttony and starvation, to live side by side. We pray for all those who live in hunger, poverty and need …
We have forgotten your promise of peace and allowed prejudice, greed, hatred and resentment to erupt into violence. We pray for all those whose lives are threatened by war, by political conflicts, by social upheaval, and by personal resentments, anger and violence …
We have forgotten your promise of love and have not always been willing to reach out to those in pain, those suffering from doubt and insecurity, and those whose lives have lost all hope and meaning. We pray for those who suffer from physical, mental or spiritual illnesses. We pray for those who are alone and lonely. We pray for those who have given up hope …
We have forgotten your promise of joy. Divine One, remind us again that no matter where we are or what is happening, you are with us offering us your love, your hope, your peace and your joy. Live in us and through us that we may share you hope, peace, joy and love with all your creation. Amen.
Gift of Music Never Ending Joy MV#40
And now go out from here in joy, open to all the wonder, the beauty and the awesome possibilities all around you. Go with confident that the One you have come to worship today goes with you guiding you, caring for you and loving you each step of the way. Go with love, with hope and with joy. Go with God.
Go now in peace, never be afraid.
God will go with you each hour of every day.
Go now in faith, steadfast, strong and true.
Know God will guide you in all you do.
Go now in love, and show you believe.
Reach out to others so all the world can see.
God will be there watching from above.
Go now in peace, in faith and in love. Amen, amen, amen.