St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 15th July 2021
Led by Rev Craig Meek
Welcome everyone to another Thursday devotional with St. Giles’ Cathedral. I’m delighted that you’ve joined me today for a few moments of prayer and reflection together, and my hope is that you’ll find a good word of encouragement, hope, and divine faithfulness in what lies ahead. As we embark on these few moments together, friends, we do so by first turning to God in prayer – let us pray.
Holy and Almighty God, whom to know is life in abundance: open your word to us that we might know again those mercies that are new everyday. Renew our hearts, and lift up our spirits again, we pray, that we might live a little more thankfully – and perhaps too, a little more recklessly by grace – in the days and hours ahead. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit – one God, both now and forever more. Amen.
Reading – Psalm 18
1 I love you, O Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
so I shall be saved from my enemies. 4 The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of perdition assailed me;
5 the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
7 Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
8 Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9 He bowed the heavens, and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
10 He rode on a cherub, and flew;
he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering around him,
his canopy thick clouds dark with water.
12 Out of the brightness before him
there broke through his clouds
hailstones and coals of fire.
13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice.[a]
14 And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings, and routed them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
16 He reached down from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of mighty waters.
17 He delivered me from my strong enemy,
and from those who hated me;
for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity;
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
Reading – Colossians 1
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
21 And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him— 23 provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.
Our readings today are incredibly good words, don’t you think? Psalm 18 is one of my very favourite, as it’s filled with these wonderful images not only of God’s love and delight in the life of the psalmist but also of God’s merciful jealousy and desire to defend the Psalmist against adversity. The thunder – the lightening – the smoke from God’s nostrils – the rebuke of whatever assails the Psalmist; it’s an incredible image of a living God who takes an interest in our lives and in the life the world, bidding us to cast ourselves upon the Almighty whose love for us is ever unchanging.
Turning to Paul’s letter, scholars tell us that our author has most likely adopted this portion of the writing from an ancient hymn of sorts; words that Paul uses to press upon his readers the affinity between Jesus Christ and Creation – perhaps in a way not wholly different from the opening chapter of the Gospel according to John. Jesus Christ is the invisible image of God and the first born of creation, writes Paul. Jesus Christ – the God-person – is the one in whom all things hold together; that is, the one in whom creation makes sense, as the space in and through which God desires to have fellowship with creatures like ourselves – even if God has to make this fellowship possible through self-giving and humility. Truthfully, Paul’s words can be a bit technical in terms of theology, but their overriding message is jammed with Good News: In Jesus Christ – who is God-Incarnate – God has established, eternally and graciously, an unchanging disposition towards creatures, a disposition marked by love and mercy and a burning desire that we might become all that he wishes us to be in Christ Jesus: Even if only by grace.
That’s Good News, friends. For we were once estranged in our sin, but in Christ Jesus we are now reconciled to the living God – to whom be all honour, glory, and praise, both now and forever more. Let us pray.
Gracious and Merciful God, in whom there is an overflowing fountain of love – of divine energy – that permeates our lives and our world, open our hearts again and make a home for yourself there. Curb our desires and press them into alignment with your own. Teach us, again, and never tire of doing so, of how sufficient your love for both sinners and saints may be.
Dismayed at what we see in our world; Distraught at the troubled waters that rise up and threaten the lives of your people; Distressed by the sheer weight and burden that life can be – draw near to us, Lord. Take our yoke upon yourself again, that we might go and share the load of another.
Knowing your kindness and mercy, we hold before you all those who grieve today; all those who know the pain of loss and whose hearts cry out for comfort and peace. We hold before you all those who are afraid or anxious today, who need an encouraging word and a strength not their own. We hold before you all those whose lives are threatened, whether by systems or persons; may they know that the Lord is on their side.
Hear our prayers, Lord, both those said and others we have not the strength to speak, and remind us again that your love will never quit. In the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord, who taught his friends to say 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.
This concludes our time together, friends. I hope it has been an encouragement to you, and that you’ll join us again at 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 life up his countenance upon you and give you peace, both this day and forever more. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Maurice Duruflé Chant Donné