St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 13th August 2020
Led by Rev Craig Meek
Welcome and Opening Sentences
Welcome to worship online with St. Giles’ Cathedral. Today is Thursday, the 13th August, and my name is Craig Meek. I am the Assistant Minister here at the Cathedral and I’m delighted that you’ve joined us from wherever you are today for a few moments of prayerful reflection. May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and with those whom you love you today, friends. May we worship God, together, in both Spirit and in Truth.
A Reading from Ezekiel 2:8-3:3
8 But you, mortal, hear what I say to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you. 9 I looked, and a hand was stretched out to me, and a written scroll was in it. 10 He spread it before me; it had writing on the front and on the back, and written on it were words of lamentation and mourning and woe.
He said to me, O mortal, eat what is offered to you; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel. 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. 3 He said to me, Mortal, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey.
What a strange and wonderful passage we have to meditate upon today! Ezekiel is a prophet in exile – a prophet who lived during the strangest of times. Having trained for the priesthood his entire life, he was taken away to live in a foreign land following the Babylonian occupation of Judea in the 6th century before the Common Era. He was a priest without a temple; a priest without a people; and in some ways, I imagine he felt himself to be a priest without a God, until one day – sitting by the River Chebar – He beheld the Almighty and Living One, in the form of a divine chariot, marching into exile to be near to God’s people.
As Ezekiel fell upon his face, he heard the voice of God call him to attention. It was time for him to perform his ministry; to go and speak to the house of Israel, God’s very people. As our passage tells us today, he was presented with a scroll full of words, and told to eat it; to digest the words of God, as he prepared to take up his ministry.
But notice what sort of words were on this scroll. Verse 10 tells us that they were words of lamentation and mourning and woe. These were not words of triumph or victory or hope; they were words of anguish and despair. For sometimes the most faithful thing that God’s people can do is lament. For we were never asked to have it together all the time, nor were we asked to live and act as if the world were perfect and without its challenges. For God never asked us to be naïve – God merely asks us to be faithful, and sometimes a few words of lament are far more significant than a few words of half-hearted praise.
This strikes me as a wonderfully comforting message for many of us today. Like Ezekiel, these are strange and uncertain times. Our lives have been disrupted and continue to be disrupted in a multitude of ways. And so, may we have the courage to be honest with ourselves and with the Living God, leaning upon the one who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses and trials, that we may receive mercy anew and find grace to help us – again – in our times of need. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Together in Prayer
May we join together in prayer. Let us pray.
Holy and Almighty God, the Psalmist tells us that we cannot hid from your Spirit; that wherever we go and whatever we might face, we will not do it alone. For you are with us. It was you who knit each of us together in the womb; for you know us intimately, perhaps better than we know ourselves. You wait patiently for us; you incline your ear to our prayers and shape us into a people and as persons.
And so, hear our prayers, Lord, for the world and its inhabitants; calm the anxieties of families and children preparing for a strange school year and of those facing uncertainties about their future employment. May you give our leaders wisdom and the courage to act justly as they continue to navigate these strange and difficult days. May your church – in spite of her faults – come alongside those in need to empower and dignify those in our communities and to care for others, especially when our own circumstances continue to be more comfortable than we perhaps deserve.
Lord, hear our prayers, too, for those whom we love, our friends and our family members, both near and far away. Provide strength and courage to those who need it and bring peace to anyone in despair. We think especially, Lord, of those who continue to shield and cannot move about freely due to the risk of infection, asking that you’ll provide them a little joy and encouragement in the coming days ahead.
Hear us, now, Lord as we continue in prayer, saying together that which Jesus taught his friends to say:
Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is heaven. Give 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 and ever. Amen.
Friends, I hope that you’ve enjoyed this devotion and that you’ll join us again another time. Until then, may the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace, both this day and for evermore. Amen.
Louis-Nicolas Clérambault Récit de Nazard