St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 18th November 2021
Led by Rev Sigrid Marten
Welcome to our Midweek Devotions from St. Giles Cathedral, the High Kirk of Edinburgh.
This is a time when we are invited to be still, and to listen for God’s Word in this moment.
“Happy are those who find wisdom,
and those who get understanding.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.” (Proverbs 3:13,17)
Our lesson for today is found in the book of Proverbs, chapter 8 (verses 1-12). Listen now for the word of God.
At this time of year the World Church remembers St. Hilda of Whitby. Hilda was born into the family of King Edwin of Northumbria in 614 AD. Together with his family she was baptised into the Christian faith when she was 13 years old. Until she was 33 years old she lived the life of privilege in the royal household, but the second half of her life was dedicated to God.
Hilda followed a call from St. Aidan of Lindisfarne to join a convent on the banks of the river Wear, where she learnt the traditions of Celtic monasticisms which Bishop Aidan had brought from Iona. A short time later Hilda was appointed to be the abbess at Hartlepool Abbey, before in 657 she became the founding abbess of Whitby Abbey which became well-known for its learning, training at least five bishops, and for hosting the famous Synod of Whitby.
According to the 8th century historian St. Bede, Hilda was a woman of great energy who was a skilled administrator and teacher. She built up libraries and educated many clerics. She was known for her wisdom, and her counsel was sought by many kings and princes. She also encouraged ordinary people to use their gifts for the glory of God. Bede writes, “All who knew her called her mother because of her outstanding devotion and grace.”
Hilda suffered with fever in the last few years of her life, but she continued to work until she died in November 680. She is now thought of as the patron saint of learning and culture.
It is hard for us today to imagine how influential Hilda was, but we don’t hear many stories of women of that era educating and counselling secular and church leaders. For many centuries the story was that power and wisdom lay with men, and this was often justified with stories from the Bible. Today we can celebrate the lives of the many women like Hilda who offered their gifts and their wisdom to enrich the life of the Church and the world.
you are the source of all wisdom.
We give you thanks for the wisdom of your Torah, your law,
which invites us to love you with all our heart
and all our soul and all our might.
We give you thanks for Jesus,
your Word and Wisdom made flesh
to dwell among us,
who calls all alike to your table.
We give you thanks for your Holy Spirit,
Wisdom creating and reviving,
in whom we live and move
and have our being.
Living God, we pray:
that your wisdom give us life;
that your wisdom dwell in our hearts;
that your wisdom nourish us;
that your wisdom be for us like honey;
that your wisdom guide those in power;
that peace will flourish;
that parents and teachers find joy in children;
that the weary find rest;
that those in danger find safety;
that prisoners be set free;
that refugees find a home;
that the sick be comforted;
that the dying find peace;
that our lips may ever sing God’s praise.
Give us eyes to see and ears to hear what is about us always:
the holy wisdom that lives with your friends and your prophets.
We ask this in Jesus’ name who taught us to pray together:
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.
And the peace of God
which passes all understanding,
keep our hearts and minds
in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
J.S.Bach Ach bleib bei uns BWV 649