Midweek Devotion 14/4/22

St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

Midweek Devotion 14th April 2022

Led by Rev Sigrid Marten

Welcome to our Midweek Devotion from St. Giles Cathedral, the High Kirk of Edinburgh on Maundy Thursday. Let us take this opportunity to step back from the distractions of our daily lives, and reflect on the story of the Passion of Christ.

The apostle John reminds us of the truth of our faith:
“God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. We love because he first loved us.”
(1 John 4:16,19)

Our lesson today is written in the gospel of John, chapter 13 (verses 1-9 and 12-17).

Reflection

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (verse 2)  In the version of an older translation it says, “…he loved them to the last.” This verse has been ringing in my ears as we move through the story of Holy Week.

When we think of the scene on that evening, we can imagine the squirming round the room quite well: here is the revered teacher and master, the one who should be honoured and sit at the head of the table, being served ‘hand and foot’, and instead he is kneeling on the dusty floor, half-naked, with a towel round his hips, washing people’s smelly feet.

Not only does he explain how necessary it is that he washes their feet, he makes sure they know what they have just experienced. He explains it all afterwards, “If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to  wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.’ The disciples have heard this kind of thing before, about the first being the last, and all that. But this is different. I imagine that it might have almost hurt them to see him kneeling there: it’s just not right. He should not be doing this.

And yet, he tells them, it is this kind of service that is needed. It is this level of love that we should share in our life together.

This extravagant act of love and service sets a pattern for us, quite a scary one. There is an abandonment of self here that does not come easy for many of us. I certainly find it breath-taking.

It is tempting to try to contain our commitment to a life in Christ in a rational and sensible way. Just as we may have frowned at the extravagant gift of love which Mary of Bethany poured out over Jesus’ feet, that bottle of spikenard, we don’t always envisage quite this level of costly discipleship for ourselves. Giving up all sense of dignity and propriety to serve others means letting go of everything we have learnt about life, and about looking after ourselves and our own.

And yet, there it is. That’s where discipleship leads, Jesus says. And it starts with letting Christ wash our feet, with letting God love us… to the last.

Prayer

God of dirty hands and tired feet,
taking people as they come,
kneeling and healing,
touching where others turn away,
forgive us when we want to be too clean.
Forgive us when we despise life
for the messy business it is.

If we are too proud
to own up to our brokenness,
if we keep hidden
what needs refreshment,
how can you care for us?

You can care – and this is how:
when we are ready to move
from distance to involvement,
from intent to touch,
then you will wash the feet
that tire on rocky roads;
you will care and heal
beyond our expectations.

Thanks be to God!

Jesus Christ,
Servant King,
in this week of all weeks,
we remember the many people
who are suffering and in pain,
those who feel broken
by all that life throws at them.
We pray for those known to us
who mourn a loved one,
for those who are unwell,
for those who are dying,
and those who look after them.

In words offered us by Christian Aid
we pray for peace in our world:
Borders, barricades, bewilderment…
When the bargaining begins,
God please protect peace.

Sanctions, security measured in minutes and it’s scary…
When safety scatters,
God please protect peace.

War dresses up in peace-keeper’s clothes,
Troops amass, the ground trembles and so do people…
When the future feels fragile,
God please protect peace.

The littlest, the least likely to have a say,
Those whose lives are sanctioned and bargained over – Violence always finds them first.

And the ‘oh-so-important’ political maneuvers mean nothing to them.
They just want to live.

When the winners want to wipe them out of the way,
God please protect peace.

We will not turn away. We will stand together –
God give us the strength to protect peace.

All our prayers we gather into the words that Jesus taught us to pray together:

Our Father, 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, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Blessing

May the God of hope
clothe us in compassion
and enfold us in God’s love.

And the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the community of the Holy Spirit
be with us all.
Amen

Organ Music

Johannes Brahms Herzlich tut mich verlangen