St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 10th September 2020
Rev Calum I MacLeod
The Psalmist says: O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Psalm 8: 1
Let us worship God
The lesson is written in 1 Timothy 3: 14 – 4: 5
14I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, 15if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. 16Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great: He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory.
4Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron. 3They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; 5for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer.
The Word of the Lord: thanks be to God
In the midst of the corona virus crisis much of our focus is on the way the epidemic will affect our lives and habits and economy in these days and into the future. I hope that the other existential crisis that the world faces – the climate crisis – will not be forgotten in the face of the pandemic. Indeed there are some reports of reduced carbon emissions as flights are fewer and people are staying at home.
There is a strain of spirituality present in some Christian theology which sees the created world as being hopelessly broken, fallen and inherently bad. Purveyors of such beliefs spend their time lamenting this state of affairs and warning people about the dangers lurking around the corner.
It is to challenge such a group of people that 1 Timothy was written. Addressed to an early Christian leader identified as Timothy, the writer quickly warns Timothy to beware false teachers. We learn from our text today what the false teaching is. “Don’t get married” say the false teachers. “Don’t eat certain foods” they warn, wailing over the world.
The writer counters this argument with a clarity rooted in scripture:
For everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected (4: 4)
We are reminded of the first chapter of Genesis and the account of creation in seven days with the refrain:
And God saw that it was good.
This then is the true teaching the early church should follow as indeed should we.
The goodness of God’s creation is an important strand in contemporary theology, and it contains a challenge as to how we steward that creation in our use of resources.
The old Yoruba prayer:
Enjoy the earth gently.
We bless you in the name of Jesus Christ,
for the gift of our lives;
for the trust which bind us to the people we love and care for,
for the gifts you allow us to discover within ourselves,
and for the gifts that others have given us by giving of themselves.
We give you thanks, God of our lives,
for the daily rhythm of work and leisure,
family and friendship, homes to live in, love to share.
And we pray for those who have lost that rhythm
because of the virus assailing us;
those whose job is in danger;
those who are sick and incapacitated.
Your world cries out for peace and for your kingdom to come;
your kingdom of goodness and wholeness and equality.
We pray for our nation and for the Queen, grant to her and those who govern in her name, compassion and wisdom in ordering the life of our country.
For our world, finding itself in turmoil as the virus continues to spread
may God give health and peace.
O Spirit of God give us a joy that outlasts our sorrows,
give us a hope stronger than despair,
call us to be glad for who we are
because you made us and meant us
to be your faithful people,
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O Lord hear our prayers for ourselves and others as we join together in the Lord’s Prayer:
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 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,
the power and the glory
for ever and ever, Amen.
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.
J.S.Bach Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten BWV 647