St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 1st October 2020
Led by Rev Douglas A O Nicol
The Psalmist wrote: ‘The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it. (Psalm 24: 1)
Let us worship God.
The Gospel according to St. Matthew 6: 25-34:
Jesus said: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about the body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles that strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
The Church historian Thomas of Celano recorded: ‘St. Francis of Assisi ordered a plot to be set aside for the cultivation of flowers when the convent garden was made, in order that all who saw them might remember the Eternal Sweetness’.
For time immemorial people with eyes to see, noses to smell, and brains to deduce have marvelled at the wonder of the world in which our human lives are set. From its order, from its bountiful provision of all that we need to sustain life, and from the colour, aroma and appetising sight that surrounds us at this Autumn season humanity has been prompted to praise God, and to echo the Psalmist’s words: ‘The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it’.
On Sunday in the Cathedral we join with many others around the country in hosting a Service of Harvest Thanksgiving as we offer ‘thanks’ to God for the richness of the created order giving beauty to behold and food to share – and it is right that we should give these thanks.
But in our Scripture Reading today Jesus invites us to take our understanding of the created order one step further – for He uses the ‘lilies’ and the ‘grass’ to offer us a lesson for living. He reminds us that just as God looks after the ‘lilies’ and the ‘grass’, so as we ‘strive first for the Kingdom of God and his righteousness’ He meets our every need.
Donald Coggan, Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1970’s, once said that: ‘Wherever the bounds of beauty, truth and goodness are advanced there the Kingdom comes’.
It is surely as we strive after such beauty, such truth, and such goodness in life that we find fresh meaning in Jesus’ encouragement not to worry about tomorrow. In seeking His Kingdom we learn of the way God does provide for our every need, and we find the peace described by the hymnwriter:
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind;
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.
Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.
Let us pray:
support us all the day long of this troublous life,
until the shadows lengthen
and the evening comes,
the busy world is hushed,
the fever of life is over,
and our work done.
Then, Lord, in your mercy,
grant us safe lodging,
a holy rest,
and peace at the last;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God of faithfulness,
your generous love supplies us
with the fruits of the earth in their season.
Give us grace to be thankful for your gifts,
to use them wisely,
and to share our plenty with others;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We commend to your generous goodness
all those who are in any way
afflicted and distressed,
especially at this time by Coronavirus.
Comfort and relieve them
according to their individual needs;
give them patience under their sufferings,
and a happy release out of all their afflictions.
all this we ask for the sake of Jesus Christ.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever,
The guarding of the God of life be on you,
the guarding of the loving Christ be on you,
the guarding of the Holy Spirit be on you
to aid you and enfold you
each day and night of your lives.
William Russell Voluntary No VII in A (2nd set)