St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 19th November 2020
Led by Rev Calum I MacLeod
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour.
Romans 12: 9
Let us worship God.
The lesson is written in the gospel of St. Matthew Chapter 6
25 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
The Word of the Lord; thanks be to God.
Here are words of practical advice for living which Jesus offers as part of Matthew’s collection of sayings we know as the Sermon on the Mount.
In my minds eye I see Jesus in his poetic mode here, doing what the great nature poets do; seeing in the everyday and the mundane – a bird, a flower – the closeness of God’s presence and the promise that there is a link between the realm of earth and the reign of God (‘what Jesus usually calls ‘the kingdom.’)
In my version of the Bible there is a little editorial ‘help’ given at the start of this passage – it reads, “Do Not Worry.” This is fine and certainly falls into that aspect of Jesus’ saying which I described as ‘practical advice.’
“Of course it’s not good to worry.” we could all agree. “Creates stress, shortens the life-span, gives us grey hairs, etc. etc.” Jesus though is more than a speaker of wisdom or a passer-on of helpful hints for the day.
I am helped in my understanding of this passage by a hymn from Korea by Nah Young-Soo based on this passage and entitled ‘Look and Learn.’ It offers in clear language the paradox of sacrifice and trust in God:
When we seek the kingdom first,
all we’ve lost is ours again.
A good word for us as in our current circumstance.
Let us pray.
What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
What have you to do with our private fears and hopes,
our fractured quest for wholeness and meaning?
What have you to do with our lives and loves,
homes and workplaces?
What have you to do with the complex intricacies
of the economic, social, political establishment?
What have you to do with the malaria ridden child in Malawi;
the mourning mother in Ramallah;
the hungry man in the United States.
Flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone,
Love of God made one with us in the mystery,
draw close to us our master, brother, friend,
Jesus of Nazareth
as we offer our praise and prayer.
Enter our lives and bring comfort where there is anxiety,
hope where sorrow reigns, love to cast out fear.
Bind us together with love in our families,
our social networks, the wider community,
restoring relationships which are lost
drawing us into new and diverse engagements
with our fellows.
Bring justice into the workings of the world
that the fruits of agriculture and industry
might be shared with equity,
that the needs of those with little
would be met by those with much.
Equip us with the gifts of your Spirit,
that we can be your body in the world,
making peace, binding up, living the gospel;
and keep us in close communion with all your people
until we come together at the last with all whom we have loved,
fully present in your kingdom,
lost in wonder, love and praise,
O Lord hear our prayers for ourselves and others as we join together in the Lord’s Prayer:
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.
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.
Dieterich Buxtehude Ciacona in G