Midweek Devotion 10/12/20

St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 10th  December 2020

Led by Rev Calum I MacLeod

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour

Luke 1: 46/7

Let us worship God.

The lesson is written in the Book of Psalms: Psalm 138

1 I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down towards your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
for you have exalted your name and your word
above everything.
3 On the day I called, you answered me,
you increased my strength of soul.

4 All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth.
5 They shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
6 For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly;
but the haughty he perceives from far away.

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies;
you stretch out your hand,
and your right hand delivers me.
8 The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures for ever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
 

Reflection

Psalm 138 is tucked in between two of the best known psalms in the collection, psalm 137 (By the rivers of Babylon…) and psalm 139 (O Lord you have searched me and known me…)

While the former is an anguished lament reflecting the experience of exile and the latter a complex poetic meditation on the nature of God, psalm 138 is a song of unadulterated thanksgiving.

It seems to me that there is a confidence of faithfulness in the tone of the psalm, perhaps because the experience of victory and ‘deliverance’ is a recent memory for the psalmist.

But this is thanksgiving with a sting!

v. 6 is just another example of the ‘upside-downness’ which is the outcome of the in-breaking of the reign of God in human hearts and lives:

For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly;
but the haughty he perceives from far away.

This is deeply reminiscent of the song which Mary sings while pregnant with Jesus (Luke 1: 46-55) and which is itself a reflection of the work of God and, I believe, prophetic words about the child in her womb (v. 52):

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly.

And so as always with Advent we face the radical challenge of giving thanks for the God who is love while waiting with hope for the one who will turn the world upside down.

Prayer

Let us pray.

O Lord your love keeps lifting me higher and higher,
so I pray for humility that I may not be numbered among the haughty in spirit!

God whose love endures,
May we hear the words of your Son
That echo down the ages:
I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God whose love is generous,
You gift to us your Holy Spirit,
The very giver of Life.
Renew our lives and the life of the community in which we share.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God whose love is steadfast,
You know us as we are for you have made us.
In your compassion, be with all who struggle and grieve at this time.
Remember them and hold them safe in your keeping.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God whose love is from everlasting to everlasting,
Give strength to the weary and power to the weak,
That we might renew our strength
And soar on wings like eagles.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

O Lord hear our prayers for ourselves and others as we join together in the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father,
which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive 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,
the power and the glory
for ever and ever, Amen.

The Benediction
Be of good courage, render no-one evil for evil,
but hold fast to the good; honour all of God’s people,
and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the Communion of the Holy Spirit
be with you
and all whom you love
this day and for ever.

(Amen)

Organ Music
Johannes Brahms Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen