St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 11th November 2021
Led by Rev Calum I MacLeod
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour.
Romans 12: 9
Let us worship God.
The scripture reading is John 15: 9-17
9As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
12 ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants* any longer, because the servant* does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
On 11 November 1928, from the fireside of his home in North Berwick, George McCrae wrote a short note to D.M. Sutherland, who had enlisted as a private in McCrae’s battalion in December 1914 and who won the Military Cross as a captain with the battalion in October 1917:
In the flames I see the faces of my boys. So young and full of promise. The sorrow and the pride are overwhelming. Sorrow at the loss and pride in the manner of their dying. They never flinched. Faced by a veritable storm of shot and shell, they marched towards the guns beside their friends. In remembering them, we must acknowledge our debt and find some way to justify our own lives so that when we meet our comrades in that better place we are able to say with a brave heart that we did not let them down.
One of the most acclaimed books about the run up to WW1 is by the historian Margaret MacMillan entitled The Road to 1914 – The War That Ended Peace.
It is a compelling and detailed exploration of how Europe descended into what would become the Great War.
In her analysis is a finely argued indictment of the race to expand Empire by each of the European powers prior to the war, leading to a series of crises which culminated in the outbreak of what became World War One.
MacMillan is clinical in her critique of the men – and she is forthright that they were all men – who fell, unseeingly, into what became the tragedy of that war.
So on this Remembrance Day there is lamentation to be recognised – that the First World War, was a product of human folly and fallenness, rooted in a race for power and Empire. That in Margaret MacMilllan’s words, “Europe’s progress – in the years prior to WW1 – had enabled it to perfect the means to mobilise its great resources in order to destroy itself.”
And that in the war’s ending were sown the seeds which would lead to the next war and the conflicts which have plagued our world – even up to this day in the middle east and Africa.
Let us then on this day remember the fallen and the wounded; let us lament humanity’s brokenness that leads to war; and let us live into the hope of peace and blessedness promised in the coming of God’s reign.
Let us pray.
Flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone,
Love of God made one with us in the mystery,
draw close to us our master, brother, friend,
Jesus of Nazareth
as we offer our praise and prayer.
Enter our lives and bring comfort where there is anxiety,
hope where sorrow reigns, love to cast out fear.
Bind us together with love in our families,
our social networks, the wider community,
restoring relationships which are lost
drawing us into new and diverse engagements
with our fellows.
Bring justice into the workings of the world
that the fruits of agriculture and industry
might be shared with equity,
that the needs of those with little
would be met by those with much.
Equip us with the gifts of your Spirit,
that we can be your body in the world,
making peace, binding up, living the gospel;
and keep us in close communion with all your people
until we come together at the last with all whom we have loved,
fully present in your kingdom,
lost in wonder, love and praise,
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 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,
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.
Johannes Brahms Herzlich thut mich verlangen