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Call to Worship Psalm 65 Adapted

One: Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; All: and to you shall vows be performed, O you who answer prayer! One: To you all flesh shall come. All: When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us, you forgive our transgressions. One: Happy are those whom you choose and bring near to live in your courts. All: We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, your holy temple.

One: By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation; All: you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas. One: By your strength you established the mountains; All: you are girded with might. One: You silence the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves,

the tumult of the peoples. All: Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs; One: you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.

All: You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it. One: The river of God is full of water;

All: you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it.

One: You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges,

softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. All: You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness. One: The pastures of the wilderness overflow; the hills gird themselves with joy. All: The meadows clothe themselves with flocks; the valleys deck themselves with grain.

One: They shout and sing together for joy, which joy we now enter in greeting one another,

“The peace of the LORD be with you.”

All: And also with you.

One: Let us pray.

Prayer of Invocation and Confession

Gracious God, Living Lord: gather us into this sanctuary of your Word; shelter us within the canopy of your grandeur and your grace. May the story of your creating, sustaining, and redeeming all that is be as our tent of meeting; may you as Being in whom we have our being be the fold which holds us during this time of otherwise exile.

We as the church have relied on this option, an alternative to the dominant narratives of our day. That we are consumers, that we serve the economy; that we must conform to standards of beauty, of intelligence, of success, of worthiness, which we’ve had little part in forming and have still less chance of fulfilling: that we are for purposes other than the long-confessed purpose of loving and being loved: we of the church know well these worldly assertions, and we’ve relied on the church as safe harbor from all that.

But now the dominant narratives dominate evermore, and the church as sanctuary founders amidst new risk. We can’t gather as we long have. We can’t immerse ourselves in our meetinghouses, where signs and remembrance of you abound: the cross, the Bible, the good order, and evidence of faithful stewardship spanning centuries. We are in exile, cut off even from one another, which we might well be for a long time.

Grant that your Word will yet hold us. Grant that your Word might fill us and re-member us one to another. Grant that our practice, which for many of us has been long done, might sustain us, might have us fit for this long journey of exile, which we do in hope of eventual return. Grant our eventual return—and also all that we long for but can’t name, it as sighs too deep for words. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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