Midweek Devotion 18/2/21

St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 18th February 2021
Led by Rev Calum I MacLeod

Create in me a clean heart, O God.
and put a new and right spirit within me.

Psalm 51: 10

Let us worship God

The lesson is Hebrews 12: 1-6

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children—

“My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
or lose heart when you are punished by him;
for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves,
and chastises every child whom he accepts.”

Reflection

In a sermon delivered to students in the chapel of St. Andrews University in 1980, the Chancellor of the university, Lord Ballantrae, told a story from his school years.

“When I was a boy at school a singularly silly woman was cross-examining my headmaster about the curriculum. She wanted to know why her son was not being taught such things as bookkeeping, accountancy, business practices and the like. He endured her for a while in patience; until at last she asked him point blank, ‘In a word, Dr. Arlington, what are you educating my son for?’ And he replied, ‘In a word, Madam, for Death.’

I am recording this devotion on Ash Wednesday and reflecting on the solemn words intoned across the world on this day which are our education: ‘Remember that from dust you have come, and to dust you shall return.’ The beginning of the season of Lent (from the Old English meaning Spring) forces us to recognize the reality of our mortality and our reliance on God as the source and giver of life.

There is gravity in the ritual of the imposition of ashes, but, as in all things of Jesus Christ, the gravity is undergirded by faith, hope and love.

Faith in the presence of God with us on the Lenten journey; hope in the resurrection which will crown the season and opens us all to the promise of fullness of life in Christ; love, love, love which endures forever.

Prayer

Lord, let me always remember you, love you, meditate upon you and pray to you, until you restore me to your perfect pattern.

God of love
hear the cry of those who yearn for love;
fractured families, broken homes
neglected, unwanted, alone.

God of justice
hear the cry of those who yearn for justice;
persecuted and oppressed,
exploited, ill-treated, broken.

God of peace
hear the cry of those who yearn for peace;
in battle zones and broken states,
frightened, fearful, anxious

God of healing
hear the cry of those who yearn for healing;
physical and spiritual
hurting, weakened, depressed

God of mercy
Hear the cry of those who yearn for mercy;
convicted, in need of your Grace,
contrite, humble, bowed down,

May you know
The peace of God
The love of God
The justice of God
The healing and mercy of God
This day and all days

O Lord hear our prayers for ourselves and others as we join together in the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father,
which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done
on 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.

The Benediction
Be of good courage, render no-one evil for evil,
but hold fast to the good; honour all of God’s people,
and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the Communion of the Holy Spirit
be with you
and all whom you love
this day and for ever.

Organ Music
Felix Mendelssohn Andante religioso (Sonata in B flat OP 65 No 4)