Midweek Devotion 18/6/20

St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 18th June 2020

Led by Rev Calum I MacLeod

The Lord loves those who hate evil:
he guards the lives of the faithful
and rescues them from the hand of the wicked.

Psalm 97: 10

Let us worship God.

The lesson is written in the gospel according to St Matthew in the 6th chapter. The words of Jesus:

7“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.10Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.11Give us this day our daily bread. 12And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. 14For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

The Word of the Lord; thanks be to God.

Reflection

Prayer is a vexed topic. In Luke’s gospel the disciples encounter Jesus in prayer and one of them says, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus gives them the words we know as the Lord’s Prayer. In Matthew’s telling the giving of the Lord’s Prayer is a part of the set of teachings we know as the Sermon on the Mount.

That teaching is the kick off of an enormous publishing phenomenon because if you go in to a bookshop, particularly a religious bookshop, you will find shelves and shelves of books on prayer and how to pray and where to pray and when to pray. People today, it seems, are looking for guidance in prayer, much like the disciples did.

Theologian William Willimon, writes about the Lord’s Prayer and its political nature. Willimon writes, “Note that the Lord’s Prayer is meant to be prayed out loud as a public gesture. Rarely do we mumble this prayer quietly, it is meant to be very audible; a very public event. This is one of the most defiant politically charged things we Christians can do, to pray the Lord’s Prayer.”

Isn’t that interesting? Do you think of saying the Lord’s Prayer as a political act?

If we pray the Lord’s Prayer intentionally, not just reciting it blankly, we might find in it a place of connection with the wider church and the wider world. We start to get at the heart of the prayer that Jesus taught the disciples to pray. One in which our orientation is towards God. Martha Moore Keish says, “True prayer is participation in God.” And that’s what the Lord’s Prayer is calling us to – to participation in God. Praying the Lord’s Prayer is a communal act; it’s why we say Our Father at the start. The Lord’s Prayer is an act of solidarity with the church and the world, remembering Leonardo Boff’s words that “solidarity is love made public.”

As we witness the response to acts of brutality against people of colour in the US and indeed protests against the authorities across the globe for engaging in systemic acts of oppression against minorities, the prayer “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven” becomes a cry for equality and peace and the rejection of violence. Amen

Prayer

Let us pray.

A prayer from the Philippines.

Lord, forgive us for we are fragmentary persons.
We go many directions at once.
We seek opposite goals; we serve contradictory causes.
We mouth liberation, we live oppression.
We shout peace, we practice violence.
We shout justice, we walk in injustice.
We preach love, we practice hate.
Through your compassion have mercy on us,
and make us whole.
Enable us to discern your voice,
among the dissonant voices.

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 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.

(Amen)

Organ Music
Dieterich Buxtehude Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist BuxWV 209