St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 17th March 2022
Led by Rev Sigrid Marten
Welcome to our Midweek Devotion from St. Giles Cathedral, the High Kirk of Edinburgh, on the 17th of March. Let us take this opportunity to step back from the distractions of our daily lives, and be still in the presence of the living God.
The prophet Jeremiah says,
“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.”
(Jeremiah 17,7f) )
Our Bible reading today is written in the gospel of Luke, chapter 10 (verses 1-11 and 17-20).
After Jesus sent his first twelve disciples out into the world to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal people, he is now sending another 70 others to do the same. I sometimes wonder how daunting those followers of Jesus might have found the task he set before them? Did they feel prepared for what Jesus was asking of them? Did they feel empowered because Jesus trusted them? Did the seventy take courage from the stories that the first disciples shared on their return?
From our perspective today we would probably want to send them on a series of training courses to prepare them ‘properly’ for the task. But all Jesus does is give them some guidance on how to behave while they are on the road: guidance about travelling light, about graciousness in accepting hospitality and not looking for special treatment; about offering blessings of God’s peace to people, and not ‘hanging around’ if they are not welcome. And when they return with their success stories, Jesus reminds them that their success is not as important as the fact that they are beloved children of God. What matters is the message, “…the kingdom of God has come near.”
In this context it might be good to note that Jesus does not send them out on their own. They are going out in pairs, able to support each other while they are spreading the Good News. We are in this together.
On the 17th of March the wider Church remembers the life and work of St. Patrick, often called the apostle of Ireland, who lived in the 5th century AD. Legends abound about the amazing things he is said to have achieved, like the story about how Patrick expelled all snakes from Ireland.
It is sometimes hard to disentangle truth from legend, but maybe the more important point to remember is that none of those well-known people in the history of our faith whom we celebrate will have been able to achieve what they did on their own. They will all have had helpers, companions who were working in the background or alongside them; people who spread the word, carried on the task. The great saints we celebrate were not alone in bringing the gospel to new places.
So, when we remember people like Patrick we remember the faithful work that they and their friends did together in the name of Jesus Christ, who called them to go out and proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal those who were suffering, then and now.
In words from St. Patrick’s Breastplate,
a prayer associated with Patrick, we pray:
I arise today through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
through belief in the threeness,
through confession of the oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today through the strength
of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
through the strength of his crucifixion
with his burial,
through the strength of his resurrection
with his ascension.
I arise today through the strength of heaven,
light of sun, radiance of moon,
splendour of fire, speed of lightning,
swiftness of wind, depth of sea,
stability of earth, firmness of rock.
I arise today
through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak to me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me.
In these troubled times we pray for all
who live with war and destruction,
all who live in fear for their lives
and the lives of their loved ones,
all who have lost their homes
and depend on the kindness of others
for food, for shelter, for hope.
We pray for peace for the people of Ukraine
and their neighbours,
and for places like Syria, Yemen, Eritrea…
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.
All our prayers we offer in the name of Jesus Christ,
our Redeemer and our healer,
who taught us to pray together:
Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is heaven. Given 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
Our blessing also comes
from St. Patrick’s Breastplate:
Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
And the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the community of the Holy Spirit
be with us all.
Dieterich Buxtehude Vater unser im Himmelreich