St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 16th December 2021
Led by Rev Sigrid Marten
Welcome to our Midweek Devotions from St. Giles, the High Kirk of Edinburgh.
This is a time when we are invited to be still, and to listen for God’s Word.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.”
Today I bring you two short readings from the Bible. They are found in Psalm 107, verses 1-6, and in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 11:28-30. Listen now for the word of God.
We are fast approaching the longest night of the year when the darkness is greatest. There are many among us who struggle physically and psychologically with the lack of light at this time of year. Even if we have not been ‘officially’ diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, we may find it hard to get up in the morning, and the lack of light can drastically affect our energy levels and our mood. In so many ways we are not just metaphorically longing for light, and it can be a struggle to get through the winter. So, this is not an easy time of year for many among us.
But it is also a tough time of year for people who are dealing with loss or sadness, or whose health is not good; for all who are struggling to provide for their families; for anyone who is homeless, or even just far away from home, or alone. All this has been exacerbated in the last two years by the Covid pandemic. As much as the media are trying to convince us that it is the season to be jolly, there are plenty of folk around us who are not feeling it, who are aching and longing for life to be different – or possibly worse, who don’t expect life ever to be easier again and are ready to give up.
In our churches we talk a lot about the fundamental change which happened to the world when God became human, the Word became flesh, in Jesus Christ, the child in the manger, whose name is Emmanuel: God-with-us. As we prepare to enjoy carol services and special Christmas celebrations, may we watch out for people who might need our help, and listen to people who need to tell their stories. May there be room for those who need to cry and to talk about sad things. May we look for the face of Christ in the people around us, as well as in the manger. In this way, those of us who feel as if we are walking in darkness will be able to see light, even if it is at the end of a long tunnel. We can hold on to the wisdom of John when he says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
Come, God of compassion,
to be with all whose loneliness
makes every night longer than the one before.
Come, God of brokenness,
to mend those
whose shattered lives seem impossible
to put back together.
Come, God of hungry hearts,
to companion the people
sitting at one-chair tables
in restaurants overflowing with parties,
and in flats with bare floors.
Come, God of the gentle arms,
to cuddle all the children
who cry themselves to sleep.
Come, God of every moment,
come, God of every person,
that we might be the people
others need to find
in every moment of their lives.
We ask this in Jesus’ name
who 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.
We end with a blessing in ancient words by St. Augustine:
Watch now, dear Lord,
with those who wake
or watch or weep tonight,
and give your angels charge
over those who sleep.
Tend your sick one, O Lord Christ,
rest your weary ones,
bless your dying ones,
soothe your suffering ones,
pity your afflicted ones,
shield your joyous ones,
and all for your love’s sake.
And may the God of hope
fill us with all joy and peace in believing,
that we may abound in hope in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Johannes Brahms Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen