Sunday July 3, 2022 – Praying the Psalms
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
We gather here, in this community of faith, to worship together.
We gather to sing our praise and adoration!
The Divine Mystery is revealed to us in song, in scripture and in prayer.
We gather to sing our praise and adoration!
The Divine Mystery fully listens and fully understands.
We gather to sing our praise and adoration!
The Divine Mystery touches our hearts.
We gather to sing our praise and adoration!
The Divine Mystery is here with us.
And so we gather to sing our praise and adoration as we worship together!
Wonderful, amazing Creator, when we look at a sunrise, a landscape, a mighty ocean, a flock of birds, a herd of elephants, or the innumerable stars in the sky we cannot help but be overwhelmed. The universe you have created is so vast and so complex that we can’t help but feel small and insignificant in comparison. And yet you care for us not only as a species, but as individuals, loving us, guiding us and calling us to live in love and in unity with all creation. As we gather here today, remind us that we are a part of something far beyond our own perception or ability to understand. Remind us that we are a part of Your wonderous creation. Amen.
Gift of Music Joyful, Joyful we Adore You #232
Throughout the Summer this year, we are going to be looking at the book of Psalms. The Psalms are divided into prayers, poetry, lament and songs. Many of them fit into more than one category. Over the next 9 weeks we are going to be exploring the idea of the Psalms as prayers. Each week we will hear selected reading form 3 or more Psalms. Today we begin with Prayers of Adoration.
Praise the Lord, my soul! O Lord, my God, how great you are! You are clothed with majesty and glory; you cover yourself with light. You have spread out the heavens like a tent and built your home on the waters above. You use the clouds as your chariot and ride on the wings of the wind. You use the winds as your messengers and flashes of lightning as your servants. You have set the earth firmly on its foundations, and it will never be moved. You placed the ocean over it like a robe. You make springs flow in the valleys, and rivers run between the hills. They provide water for the wild animals. In the trees near by, the birds make their nests and sing. From the sky you send rain on the hills, and the earth is filled with your blessings. You make grass grow for the cattle and plants for us to use, so that we can grow our crops and produce wine to make us happy, olive oil to make us cheerful, and bread to give us strength. You created the moon to mark the months; the sun knows the time to set. Lord, you have made so many things! How wisely you made them all! The earth is filled with your creatures. There is the ocean, large and wide, where countless creatures live, large and small alike.
I will sing to the Lord all my life; as long as I live, I will sing praises to my God. May he be pleased with my song, for my gladness comes from him. Praise the Lord, my soul! Praise the Lord!
O Lord, our Lord, your greatness is seen in all the world! Your praise reaches up to the heavens; it is sung by children and babies. When I look at the sky, which you have made, at the moon and the stars, which you set in their places — what are human beings, that you think of them; mere mortals, that you care for them? Yet you made them inferior only to yourself; you crowned them with glory and honor. You appointed them rulers over everything you made; you placed them over all creation: sheep and cattle, and the wild animals too; the birds and the fish and the creatures in the seas. O Lord, our Lord, your greatness is seen in all the world!
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. Praise our God, all nations; let your praise be heard.
Reflection – Praying the Psalms
I’m not sure how many of you have ever heard of the ABCs of prayer or the ACTS of prayer. The ACTS of prayer in an acronym that stand for A – Adoration C – Confession T – Thanksgiving and S – Supplication. That ABCs stand for Adoration, Blessings, which is giving thanks for your many blessings, Confession and Supplication.
In both these prayer methods, we are reminded of the importance of Adoration. Adoration is not something that we tend to talk about all that often. We may say we absolutely adore someone or something, but when we talk about true Adoration, especially in terms of prayer, it is something much deeper than infatuation, admiration or desire.
When we offer our Adoration in prayer it is, or at least it should be, an overwhelming sense of wonder and awe that can be extremely hard to put into words. It is a feeling that touches us to our very depth, and it is this ability to move us at a deep emotional and spiritual level that is perhaps on of the greatest gifts of the Psalms.
Praise the Lord, my soul! O Lord, my God, how great you are! You are clothed with majesty and glory; you cover yourself with light … When I look at the sky, which you have made, at the moon and the stars, which you set in their places — what are human beings, that you think of them; mere mortals, that you care for them? … Come and see what God has done, his wonderful acts among people.
As I’m sure you are all aware by now, I love words. I love the sound of words. I love the way they flow when well written. I love the pictures they paint in your mind. So, the book of Psalms has always been one that I have love to read. So much of this book is beautifully written poetry which originally was meant to be sung rather than read.
There is a power in poetry and song that touches us in a way spoken words alone don’t. I’m sure you can all think of a song that means a great deal to you. It may be because of the memories associated with that song … a song that one of your parents sang to you … the first song you danced to at your wedding … a song that reminds you of a particularly happy time in your life … or a song that got you through a difficult time.
For some of us there are hymns that touch us in ways we may not even be able to explain. For some people it is the words of our opening hymn, Joyful, Joyful we Adore Thee or our closing hymn O Lord, My God – How Great Thou Art. For many people it’s Amazing Grace. For some it is a Christmas Carol such as Joy to the World, Away in a Manger or Silent Night, or an Easter Hymn such as When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Were You There, Jesus Christ is Risen Today or Thine is the Glory.
I’m sure you can all add your own favorites to this list. You may be able to explain why they mean so much to you. Perhaps they bring back a fond memory or it may simply be a feeling that you get when you sing them but all of us have those songs that are special to us, that somehow touch us at a very deep level.
I would also hazard a guess that most of you have a favorite psalm. Many people would immediately name the 23rd Psalm, The Lord is My Shepherd. Others might name Psalm 100 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, or Psalm 42 As a deer pants for water, so my soul longs for you O God. One of my personal favorites is Psalm 139 O Lord, you have searched me an you know me. So, what about you? What is your favorite psalm?
No body can think of one? Well what about one particular verse from a Psalm? Sing to the Lord a New Song … The Lord is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? … The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and all those who dwell therein … What time I am afraid, I will put my trust in thee … Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
These psalms mean so much to us because they often seem to express what we are thinking or feeling. They put into words what we ourselves cannot always seem to verbalize. They also have the power to make us imagine or visualize the things that we hear within the psalms.
When you hear the opening words of Psalm 104, “Praise the Lord, my soul! O Lord, my God, how great you are! You are clothed with majesty and glory; you cover yourself with light. You have spread out the heavens like a tent and built your home on the waters above. You use the clouds as your chariot and ride on the wings of the wind. You use the winds as your messengers and flashes of lightning as your servants”, when you hear those words, what picture do you see?
So, when we talk about psalms or prayers of Adoration, we are talking about something that is not just in our head or even in our hearts. We are talking about something that touches us to the very depth of our being. It goes beyond praise or thanksgiving. It is an experience of awe or wonder that completely overwhelms us, and that is the very foundation on which our faith is built.
If we can explain in simple terms exactly why we believe or exactly what it is that we feel when we think about the One we worship, then I worry that we may be missing something essential to our faith. Throughout the history of the Christian Church, and indeed throughout most World Religions, there has always been a strong tradition of Mysticism.
It is this tradition of Mysticism, of the mysterious and unexplainable, that is tapped into, when we surrender ourselves to the experience of complete and total Adoration. And it is this Mysticism, this unexplainable feeling, that is somehow expressed to the best of our human ability in these psalms or prayers of Adoration.
O Lord, my God, how great you are! … your greatness is seen in all the world! … When I look at the sky, which you have made, at the moon and the stars, which you set in their places — what are human beings, that you think of them; mere mortals, that you care for them?
How is it that something so great, so amazing, so mysterious could possibly care for us and have an intimate personal relationship with something as ordinary as a human being? How is it that the words of our psalms or the words of our prayers could possibly make any difference whatsoever?
And yet that is exactly what our faith tells us. That is the belief that draws us here as a worshiping community of. And that is why, when we speak of prayer, it is Adoration that should always come first. Until we truly and completely open ourselves up to that which we cannot explain, we cannot reach out seeking help and guidance to overcome our failings, to find a direction moving forward or to ask for those things that are most needed, for ourselves or for others.
All the other parts of our prayers – our confession, our gratitude and thanks for the blessing we have in this life and our supplication, our requests for help and guidance, depend on our opening ourselves up to that which we can never fully explain or understand, that which leaves us in awe and wonder, that which calls us to Adoration beyond words.
For me, this is the power of the psalms. They express that which is beyond expression and touch us in ways that words alone cannot. They open us to the mystery of the Divine and by so doing, connect us with the Source that we seek.
Each person here has their own specific understanding of and relationship with the Divine. Each person here finds their connection with the Divine in a different way. But in the words of the Psalms, and perhaps most powerfully in the words of the Psalms that express these prayers of Adoration, there is a connection to the mystery and awe of the Divine that, even thousands of years after they were written, still have the power to move us and to make us cry out loud, O Lord, my God, how great you are! Praise the Lord, my soul! Praise the Lord! Amen.
Gift of Music Praise to the Lord, the Almighty #220
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 to place your offering in the offering plates at the back of the church or to make arrangement to give through PAR or through online donations. 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
Creating and Creator God, we gather here today offering you our praise and adoration. We praise and thank you for your faithful love toward us, and for the many ways you have demonstrated that love. We see your love in the natural world around us — in the sky, the trees, the oceans and the rivers. We hear your voice in the song of the birds, the sounds of the animals and in the whisper of the winds. We know that you have blessed us with all that we truly need and for this we express our deep gratitude.
Yet we also know that we have not always appreciated what You have provided. We have not always shared justly the bounty that you have given us. We have not always cared for your creation or fully recognized and appreciated our role as part of that creation. We have not always expressed the same love to those around us, that you have given us. Yet because we have experienced your love, we come before you with confidence, knowing that you offer us the freedom to forgive others and to forgive ourselves for the faults and flaws that are part of who we are. Knowing that you love us gives us the freedom to love you and others in return.
And so, as we gather here in this place, we bring forward our own needs and the needs of our world.
We pray for those who live surrounded by violence — whether from war or political unrest, crime or domestic abuse. We think especially of those dealing with the ongoing war in Ukraine and all those whose lives have been torn apart by the violence and death.
We pray for those who find themselves at odds with the law, whether by choice or through coercion; those caught up in gangs or prostitution, those who have turned to crime to pay for their addictions, those who are imprisoned.
We pray for those who experience pain or illness that robs them of their joy and ability to participate fully in the life you have given. We pray for doctors, nurses, and all health care workers who strive to restore health and alleviate pain in this time of personnel shortages brought on by the ongoing COVID pandemic.
We pray for those who stand up for what is right even when it is not what is popular. We think of those speaking out on issues such as climate change, living wages, personal rights and freedoms, and just and equal treatment of all people.
We pray for ourselves and those we love. We pray for parents juggling the responsibilities of work and family. We pray for couples struggling to build and maintain strong loving relationships, those whose relationship are strained and those whose relationship are beyond the point of repair. We pray for children, our own and other’s, who struggle to find their own way in the midst of peer pressure and the demands or expectations of parents and family.
We pray for our church. We pray for guidance and confidence as, together, we seek to find and to follow your call to us towards a new and hope filled future as part of your ongoing creation. All of this, Divine One we offer to you in prayer along with our paise and our devotion. Amen.
Gift of Music O Lord My God #238
And now go out from here open to the wonder all around you. Go out from here confident that the One you have come to worship today goes with you as you leave this place, guiding you, caring for you and loving you. Go knowing that because you are loved, cared for and guided, you can go out from here to love and to live in the image of the One you follow. 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.