Call to Worship - Prayer - Reading

Call to Worship

 God who knows us,

 You know us as we approach this worship,

You know our unwritten hopes,

 You know our unspoken dreams,

 You know our minds

 You know our hearts

 As we come into this time of worship.

 May our hopes & our dreams be yours,

 May our minds and our hearts not wander from you.

 God who knows us,  

 You know us,

 And we come seeking to know you.


 God who knows us,

 You formed our inward parts,

 Knit us together in our mother's wombs

 We are fearfully and wonderfully made

 Your works are wonderful

 And for that we give thanks,

 For your wonderful works

For your wonderful knowing of us

 we give thanks.

 For those times when we have failed to welcome your knowing,

 For those times when we have tried to hide from you,

 For those times when we have tried to live as people not fearfully or wonderfully made,

 For those times and many others we are sorry

 And in our thankfulness and sorrow

 We know we are still with you,

 You know us,

 You forgive us,

 You love us.



Psalm 139: 1-6, 13-18


STF: 728 O God, you search me



May the words of my lips and the meditations of all our hearts be pleasing and acceptable in your sight, O God who knows us.

God knows us.

When I was a child my mum used to tell me that Father Christmas saw if I had been naughty or good, and if I was misbehaving (hard to believe, I know!) then she would invoke Father Christmas as this all-seeing, all-knowing 'being'. I never much liked the idea of Father Christmas being able to see what I was doing. I don't think any of us enjoy or find comfort in being seen for who we really are.

Today's psalm suggests a God who sees all of our actions (our sitting down and rising up), more than that though is a God who sees beyond our actions and sees the kind of people we are, and this is something altogether more disconcerting.  All those bad decisions you made, those harsh thoughts you had about someone, those angry moments; all of these, and more God has seen. God has seen you at your best but also at your very worst, God has seen those parts of yourself that you keep hidden from the rest of the world. God has seen you. Those things we do in secret, without anyone looking are exposed when we are seen. To be really seen is a hard thing because it involves us being stripped of all of the things we use to hide our real selves. The 'front' we each of us put on to face the world evaporates when we are really seen.

None of us 'like' being vulnerable, there's nothing enjoyable about being vulnerable and that is where we are at in this Psalm with God, we are at our most vulnerable, naked, stripped back of all the things we chose to 'dress' our souls in. Our real, true and sometimes less than attractive selves are visible to God.

I'm sure we have all met, and some of us have even been that person who doesn't cope well with eye contact; for some people having another person looking into our eyes can feel really unsettling, uncomfortable and unnerving because looking into someone's eyes means that we have been seen. For some of us, we are so shy, so ill at ease with our selves that being seen can be quite painful and so we will break that gaze and look away at the earliest opportunity. Whether we chose to break our gaze or not though, we cannot hide from God, God sees us.

Beyond us being seen by God though is the part of this psalm that offers us hope. God doesn't just 'see us' but God knows us. God knows us.

God chooses to know us. In God's knowing of us God replaces our shame with 'fearfully and wonderfully made'; in God's knowing of us God replaces vulnerability with strength; in God's knowing of us God replaces despair with hope; in God's knowing of us God replaces fear with love. God chooses to know us not despite God's seeing of us but because of and with all that God sees of us. God's knowing of us is an intimate act in which come to know something of God also.

God was present when we were made in secret, when our frame was intricately woven in the depths of the earth, God doesn't just see us being made God knows us in our making.

So today's reading happens to be one of my favourite psalms, because it reminds me that when all the stuff and things of life are stripped away God knows me and in God's knowing I am loved. I am reminded by it that when I say the words 'from dust you have come and to dust you will return' God knows that dust intimately and intricately. To be loved without being known is meaningless, to be known and not loved is dis-compassionate; but to be known and loved frees us from the acting and pretence of life, it humbles us and gives us strength and courage for the journey ahead. Amen.

[There's a video of monologue based on the woman at the well, which speaks of the power of God to be known and to be loved.

Prayers of Intercession

Prayers of Intercession

 God who knows us,

 You have searched us and known us,

 You know our worries and our concerns,

 You know our hopes and our dreams,

 You know those people and situations which weigh heavily on us.

 God who knows us,

 For those who hope the darkness will hide them,  

 Even the darkness will not be dark to you,

 And you will always see and know each of us.

 For political leaders, decision makers, life changers, world shapers,

 For the oppressed and the oppressor, for the powerful and the weak

 Strip back the things of darkness

so that all may be known by you.

God who knows us,

For those in whom your image is reflected,

Whose innermost beings were created and known,

Knit together, fearfully and wonderfully made.

For the sick of body, sick of mind, sick of soul; the strugglers, grievers, the lonely.

For those needing healing and those with the capacity to heal,

Knit them together

So that all may be known by you.

God who knows us,

You have search us and known us,

You know our worries and our concerns,

You know our hopes and our dreams,

You know those people and situations which weigh heavily on us.

Hear us, help us, heal us. Amen.


STF: 636 O Love that wilt not let me go



 There is nowhere we can go where God is not,

 There is nothing we can do which God has not seen,

 There is no one we can be that God does not know.

 May God search us and know us,

 May God be acquainted with all of our ways,

 May God hem us in behind and before,

 May God remind us we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

 God knows us,

 God loves us.  

 And the blessing of God, the father, the son and holy spirit,

 Be with us, those we love and those we ought to love,

 This day and evermore.