Sunday July 17, 2022
Praying the Psalms -Prayers of Trust
Life and Work of our Church
David & Judy Sollows are celebrating their 40th Wedding Anniversary today
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 unseeded 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
The words of the psalms describe God as salvation, hope, shelter, strength and protector.
We hear these healing words as an invitation to put all our trust in God.
But so often we allow fear to overtake us and we try to control everything ourselves.
In worship we seek to renew our trust in God.
In worship we seek to deepen our relationship with God and to re-align our priorities to trust more fully.
And so, as we gather here today, let us worship God.
God, trusting you completely often is hard for us. We have a hard time letting go and releasing our control over situations and people. We want to stands firm and trusts you wholeheartedly. We want to be unshakable and resilient in our faith, but it’s hard to trust in a world where trust and honesty are often rare commodities. It’s hard to depend on anyone or anything when it feels like everything is changing and uncertain. Yet we know that you are always worthy of our trust. We know that you will always be with us to protect, strengthen, guide and direct us. Open our heart to trust more fully and our minds to accept more completely your promise that we can always depend on you. Amen.
Gift of Music The Care the Eagle Gives Her Young #269
Throughout the Summer this year, we are going to be looking at the book of Psalms as prayers. Today we look at prayers that express our trust in God.
Psalm 46 Good News Translation
God is our shelter and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not be afraid, even if the earth is shaken and mountains fall into the ocean depths; even if the seas roar and rage, and the hills are shaken by the violence. There is a river that brings joy to the city of God, to the sacred house of the Most High. God is in that city, and it will never be destroyed; at early dawn he will come to its aid. Nations are terrified, kingdoms are shaken; God thunders, and the earth dissolves. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Come and see what the Lord has done. See what amazing things he has done on earth. He stops wars all over the world; he breaks bows, destroys spears, and sets shields on fire. “Stop fighting,” he says, “and know that I am God, supreme among the nations, supreme over the world.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
I look to the mountains; where will my help come from? My help will come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let you fall; your protector is always awake. The protector of Israel never dozes or sleeps. The Lord will guard you; he is by your side to protect you. The sun will not hurt you during the day, nor the moon during the night. The Lord will protect you from all danger; he will keep you safe. He will protect you as you come and go now and forever.
Psalm 56 (selected verses) Good News Translation
When I am afraid, O Lord Almighty, I put my trust in you. I trust in God and am not afraid: I praise him for what he has promised. What can a mere human being do to me? You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears. Aren’t they listed in your book? In him I trust, and I will not be afraid. What can a mere human being do to me? O God, I will offer you what I have promised; I will give you my offering of thanksgiving, because you have rescued me from death and kept me from defeat. And so I walk in the presence of God, in the light that shines on the living.
The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in fields of green grass and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water. He gives me new strength.
He guides me in the right paths, as he has promised. Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me. You prepare a banquet for me, where all my enemies can see me; you welcome me as an honored guest and fill my cup to the brim. I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life; and your house will be my home as long as I live.
Praying the Psalms – Prayers of Trust
We live in a world today that, to a very large extent, is controlled by fear. Most children in our culture are taught ‘stranger danger’ at a very young age. Teenagers are taught to be aware of internet stockers and not to trust anyone they meet online. Women are warned not to walk alone after dark and in may cities there are entire communities that are deemed to be unsafe. We pay thousands of dollars every year for insurance, just in case the worst happens and we seem to constantly worry about things that are completely beyond our control. On top of all this we now worry about COVID-19 or the next pandemic that might hit.
Global warming has caused another entire layer of worry as crops fail, forests burn, rivers flood, glaciers melt and more and more of our earth’s habitats are destroyed. Plants and animals continue to disappear at an alarming rate and more and more people are forced to leave their homes in search of safety. Add to all that the number of people fleeing their homes to escape the devastation of war and the issues caused by mass migration becomes worse and worse.
Many people today worry about simply surviving, finding enough food to eat, finding medical care, or simply trying to avoid the next bomb when it hits. If you listen to the nightly news, there often seems little reason in our world for hope.
And yet the psalmist tells us, we will not be afraid, even if the earth is shaken and mountains fall into the ocean depths; even if the seas roar and rage, and the hills are shaken by the violence … we will not be afraid … because … The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Given all the realities of our modern world, how could anyone possibly not be afraid? There are very real dangers and very real worries in our world and we cannot simply pretend that they do not exist. But he Psalmist doesn’t do that either. He doesn’t ignore the reality that there are things in this world that are indeed frightening. Nations are terrified, kingdoms are shaken.
But the psalmist doesn’t give in to those fears and let them overwhelm him. God is our shelter and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. It is not that bad things don’t happen. It is not that there are not difficult and frightening times in life. It is a reminder that no matter what is happening and no matter how terrifying things might get, our faith calls us to trust that there is a power stronger than anything life can throw at us. I trust in God and am not afraid: I praise him for what he has promised. What can a mere human being do to me?
Perhaps the greatest of all the psalms of trust and reassurance is also the most familiar. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. I’m sure many of you can recite this entire psalm from heart, in the traditional King James Translation of course.
It is probably the most common scripture read at funerals. And there is one line, more than any other, that most people seem to cling in times of sorrow and mourning. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. It is this promise that not even death can separate us from God that offers comfort, hope and reassurance even in the most difficult times of life.
But none of the psalms, including the 23rd Psalm, ever promise that we will not have to walk through those valleys. None of them promise that there will not be difficult and frightening times in our lives. What they do promise us is that we will not have to face these times alone. They promise that, if we truly trust in the Divine, then we do not need to ever surrender to the fear of what might happen. And it is this promise that is at the very heart of our faith. There is nothing in life that we will ever have to face alone.
Our United Church Creed begins with those same words. We are not alone. It is the belief that there is something beyond ourselves, something greater than we are that is the foundation of our faith. But it is not simply that we believe that there is something out there. It is also the belief that we are connected to that something, in a way that offers us hope and reassurance.
Recognizing that there is something beyond ourselves, a Divine Mystery that is the reason we are gathered here today, is however, still not enough. We also have to trust that Divine Mystery. We have to let go of our fear, we have to let go of our control, and we have to place our trust in something we can neither see nor fully understand. We have to have faith. And that is the hard part.
The truth is that most of us like to be in control. We like to think that regardless of the situation, we can handle it. We tend to question everything. We want answers. We want to know what is going to happen next and we want to know what steps we can take to make sure that things work out the way we hope they will. We do not always trust easily.
Now I certainly don’t want to downplay the very real fears that we all face in our lives. Fear can play a vital role in our own self preservation. There is good reason that human beings have developed certain fears. If we do not have at least some fear of fire, we could suffer very serious burns. Fear of being bitten by a poisonous snake or insect could easily save your life in some parts of the world.
It is fear that tell us when we need to run from danger. It is fear that heightens our senses when we feel threatened. It is fear that gives us that extra adrenaline rush when we need it most. But when fear becomes our first response to every situation and when we allow fear to control both our thoughts and our actions even in times where there is no obvious threat, then it is fear rather than faith that is in control.
There is a wonderful quote that I came across recently. “Fear and Anxiety are cousins but they are not twins. Fear sees a threat. Anxiety imagines one.” Perhaps the truth is that, what we most need to turn over to God, what we most need to trust to God, is not so much the fears that cause us to take action and protect ourselves or others, but those imagined threats, that we can’t actually do anything about.
For me that is where the psalms come into it. We don’t have to hang on to fear or let fear control our lives. When my children were young, they sang in a Junior Choir and one of the songs they learned was based on Psalm 56. The first two lines when like this, “What time I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee. These are the words found in Psalm 56:3.”
I can’t tell you how many times I have repeated those words to myself when I was feeling anxious or frightened. What time I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee. This is the message of all the psalms that we read this morning. We do not need to be afraid, even if the earth is shaken and mountains fall into the ocean depths; even if the seas roar and rage, and the hills are shaken by the violence.
We do not need to be afraid because, The Lord Almighty is with us, walking through every dark valley we come to, guiding us, comforting us and promising us that if we trust and believe we will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Amen
Gift of Music If You Will Trust in God to Guide You #286
We Offer Our Gifts
In gratitude for all that we have received, let us now offer our gifts to God. You can support our church by placing your offering in the offering plates at the back of the church or to make arrangement to give through PAR or online and by feeding our Mission and Service piggy bank. You can also give through the gifts of your time and your involvement with the ongoing work of this congregation. And so, as we sing our offertory response, we bring forward some of those gifts.
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
Divine One, as we come to you in prayer, we acknowledge that there is so much wrong in this world that is not as it should be. We also acknowledge that most of it is our doing; most of it is because of our choices; most of the suffering and injustices in this world are a result of human selfishness and greed. It is easy for us to become discouraged and hopeless when we think of the magnitude of the problems. Yet in the midst of all of the pain, suffering and injustice, both human-caused and other, we know that we need to trust that when we turn to you, you will guide us and help us through. But trusting you does not mean that we can sit back and expect you to sort everything out for us. You call each of us to work with you for the good of our world. Help us to do our part.
When we think of those living in poverty, those dying of starvation remind us to be more generous with what we have…
When we think of those who are lonely, grieving or isolated, remind us to be more generous with our time…
When we think of those who are sick or injured, remind us to offer what support we can and remind us to appreciate the work of those who care for others…
When we think of those who live in countries where they have no access to medical care, remind us to be more grateful for the care that we do have…
When we think of those who are caught in the midst of terrorism, war, and political conflict, remind us to be more vocal in our opposition to violence…
When we think of those who live their entire lives in fear, unable to trust anyone or anything, remind us how fortunate we are to be able to trust and follow you…
In our prayers and in our lives, Divine One, help us to continue to lean more deeply into your promise of love and care, and help us to trust that promise in all that we do and in all that we are. Amen.
Gift of Music Unto the Hills #842
And now we go out from here trusting the one who calls us out to share the love, hope, and care that we have been offered. We go out trusting that we are not alone and that the one who has called us continues to guide and care for us along the way. And so, as we go out from here, we 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.