St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 10th June 2021
Led by Rev Calum I MacLeod
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
Psalm 42: 1
Let us worship God
The lesson is Romans 3: 21- 26
21 But now, irrespective of law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.
The word of the Lord; thanks be to God
The letter to the Romans is Paul’s densest and most complex reflection on the meaning of the person and nature of Jesus Christ. In it he uses various rhetorical devices to emphasize his understanding of how God acts in the world through Jesus. It is worth remembering that Paul is the first written witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ that we have in our canon of Scripture (the placement of the books of the New Testament are not chronological)
In this passage, Paul uses a technical form of expression known as a diatribe (which does not carry the same negative connotations as the word has in modern English.) In essence Paul outlines his beliefs by responding to questions that he sets up as if in opposition to what he is proposing, and resolves them in the text.
This form can be difficult to read and it can be a challenge to follow the thread of the argument. Two words which Paul uses are of particular importance in understanding his beliefs – righteousness and atonement. Both are ‘churchy’ words which may seem heavy with meaning and difficult to approach. I have always found it helpful to understand that the meaning of atonement is found in the word itself – “at-one-ment” – meaning the process by which we made one with, or reconciled to God.
Righteousness has a similar meaning in that it refers to our being in right relationship with God, rather than the brokenness of relationship which our sin causes.
As you see these are ‘relational’ words and in recognizing that we can be sure of the nature of our God, who, through Jesus Christ, calls us into new ways of loving and being and relationship with our God and with each other.
(from the hymn text by Bill L. Wallace)
Mystr’y shrouds our life and death
but we need not be afraid,
for the mystery’s heart is love,
God’s great love which Christ displayed.
Let us pray.
O Christ the Master Carpenter,
be our architect and foreman and colleague,
that we might be fellow-workers
in the construction of your kingdom.
May we build homes for the homeless,
bring hope to the hopeless;
create community for the lonely,
construct a place of sharing for the wealthy,
offer meaning to the bewildered,
and peace to the troubled.
Inspire us to live compassion in the face of meekness,
wholeness in the place of suffering,
life in the face of bereavement,
love in the face of fear.
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, 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,
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.
Felix Mendelssohn Sonata IV in B flat (2nd movement)