St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 10th March 2022
Led by Rev Kenneth Boyd
Welcome to online devotion with St Giles’ Cathedral, today Thursday the 10th of March 2022
Scripture Reading Psalm 43
1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people;
from those who are deceitful and unjust
2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you cast me off?
Why must I walk about mournfully
because of the oppression of the enemy?
3 O send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling.
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy;
and I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.
‘Why must I walk about mournfully because of the oppression of the enemy?’ The words of the psalmist, but also perhaps of the Ukrainian mother with her children on the Polish border, escaping ‘from the oppression of the enemy’, while her husband, among the rubble of their home, picks up his rifle in defence of his ‘cause against an ungodly people’. Viewing such events yet again, and now so much nearer to home, it is difficult not to be cast down and disquieted by the callousness and brutality of man’s inhumanity to man. Horrors we thought consigned to history are again repeated: the deep mystery of human evil is no longer just a memory; it is difficult not to conclude that human nature is irredeemable. Yet the psalmist will not have it. ‘Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.’
The deep mystery of human evil is no longer just a memory: but another memory is just as real, even on the Polish border and among the ruins, wherever aid agencies operate and war correspondents witness to the truth: the mystery of human goodness. The poet Stevie Smith testifies to it when she writes of the human creature: ‘Beaten, corrupted, dying/ In his own blood lying/ Yet heaves up an eye above/ Cries, Love, love./ It is his virtue needs explaining/ Not his failing.’ If human nature is irredeemable, how do we explain human goodness – except that human nature is redeemable and is being redeemed: redeemable because it bears the traces of the image of God, being redeemed because that image was made flesh and is, even now, still forgiving humanity and encouraging us to become what we were created to be. ‘Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God’.
In peace let us pray to the Lord.
O GOD of love, O King of peace,
Make wars throughout the world to cease;
The wrath of sinful man restrain:
Give peace, O God, give peace again.
Dear Father, we pray for your world:
for our human brothers and sisters, your children everywhere;
and especially for those threatened by war and destruction
who in their distress or despair do not know where to turn.
We pray today for the people of Ukraine.
We pray also for ourselves and for our neighbours
Lord, we pray for the power to be gentle; the strength to be forgiving;
the patience to be understanding;
and the endurance to accept
the consequences of holding to what we believe to be right.
May we put our trust in the power of good to overcome evil
and the power of love to overcome hatred.
We pray for the vision to see and the faith to believe
in a world emancipated from violence, a new world where
fear shall no longer lead men to commit violence,
nor selfishness make them bring suffering to others.
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.
Set free, O Lord, the souls of thy servants
From all restlessness and anxiety.
Give us the peace and power which flow from thee.
Keep us in all perplexity and distress,
That upheld by thy strength and stayed on the rock of thy faithfulness
We may abide in thee now and evermore. Amen
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is heaven. Given us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever. Amen.
And now may the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
bless, preserve and keep us and all God’s children,
in the joy, simplicity, and compassion of the gospel. Amen