Midweek Devotion 19/5/22

St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

Midweek Devotion 19th May 2022

Led by Rev Sigrid Marten

Welcome to our Midweek Devotion from St. Giles Cathedral, the High Kirk of Edinburgh on Thursday, 19 May. Let us use this time to turn away from the distractions of our lives and to be still and listen for God’s word for us.

Jesus says, “See, I am making all things new…
To the thirsty I will give water as a gift
from the spring of the water of life.”
(Revelation 21:5,6)

Our lesson today is written in the gospel of John, chapter 4 (verses 19-24).

Reflection

Our text today is part of a longer story about Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. There is much that is remarkable about that story, e.g. the fact that Jesus is even speaking to a Samaritan, considering they were thought of as being beyond the pale. It is possibly even more astonishing for Christ’s contemporaries that Jesus discusses theology with a woman, and that ‘…many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony’ (verse 39).

In their conversation about the right way to worship Jesus introduces the idea that in future God will be worshipped in spirit and truth. “God is spirit, and those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth”, he says.

This is a good story to remember as we journey from Easter towards Pentecost. The disciples are finding themselves in turbulent and confusing times. They have lived through the trauma of losing their friend and teacher, and experienced the shock of realising that he is risen. Now they need to work out what that means for them. Much has changed, nothing can be taken for granted, and the way forward is not clear. It is a time of transformation which is made possible by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.

This is quite a good story for the wider Church today. We too may feel quite shaken by the experience of the pandemic in past two years, and everything else that life may have thrown at us. We too are faced with the reality that we can’t just go back to how things were in the past. We are challenged to look at our own lives and the life of the Church, and decide how we want to go forward. That is not always a comfortable place to be. We are on the threshold, in  a liminal space: teetering, between places, neither properly here nor there.

We may very well be tempted to try to turn back, but Christ challenges us to look forward, to be open for things to be different, to expect transformation, to expect the Spirit. What Jesus says to the Samaritan woman opens up opportunities to overcome old divisions, to let go of hardened positions and outdated mindsets. He reminds us that, at the end of the day, we are all one: all God’s children, all worshippers of God who is Spirit, and we are called to worship in spirit and truth.

Whilst we find ourselves in a tentative place, not sure how to move forward, sometimes fearful, often weary, we can hold on to the promise that ‘spirit and truth’ are the direction we should travel in. This will prepare us for Pentecost. It will keep our hearts open for God’s Spirit to fill us with new hope, new courage, new ideas for our lives as friends and followers of Jesus Christ, wherever God may lead us from here.

Prayer

Living God!
May the life you have redeemed from death
be alive in us,
that in our living and being
we proclaim a life that never dies,
and is so full of alleluias,
of the love of justice
and the making of peace,
it can never die.
May we find a million ways
to proclaim that you are alive:
in word and deed,
in hope and action,
in longing and being,
in singing and speaking,
in laughter and care,
in question and wonder,
in faith and belief.

Living God!
May we be your resurrection people,
alive to life
and ready to share it with the world.

Hear us, live in us,
reshape us, call us
anew and again
into life and all its fullness.

Living God!
During Christian Aid week especially
we pray for all who work towards peace with justice
in the many places where life is hard,
especially in the global South;
where change seems impossible,
where climate change affects people’s lives severely,
where poverty takes away choices and destroys livelihoods,
where good healthcare and education are lacking,
where injustice is rife,
and your children are suffering every day.

Living God!
May we discover your abundant life
in sharing our resources with one another.
May your life-giving power become known
through our love,
rooted in your unfathomable love for us all.
May it be for us all like a spring of water,
gushing up to eternal life.

All our prayers we gather into the words
that Jesus taught us to pray together:

Our Father, 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. Amen

Blessing

And the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the community of the Holy Spirit
be with us all.
Amen

Organ Music

Felix Mendelssohn Sonata IV in B flat (2nd movement)