Midweek Devotion 2/12/21

St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

Midweek Devotion 2nd December 2021

Led by Rev Douglas A O Nicol

The Psalmist wrote: ‘I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.’ (Psalm 119: 21-24)

Let us worship God.

Scripture Reading

The Gospel according to St. Matthew, chapter 7, verses 21 and 24-27:

Jesus said: ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell – and great was its fall!’

Reflection

The headlines of recent days have reminded us of the power of storms to wreck havoc on human activity, with Storm Arwen causing widespread destruction of property, rendering roads and railways impassable, and damaging vital power lines. Storms bring their challenges!

In his teaching Jesus illustrated this clearly in the well loved parable of the two houses – one built on rock and one built on sand. We don’t need to be a professional civil engineer to work out what would happen when a storm such as Arwen arrived!

Jesus shared this parable – this earthly story with a heavenly meaning – to highlight that the only safe course in life is to act on what we hear Him say. The Gospels contain His teaching, and it is as we build our lives on that teaching that we can protect ourselves against the storms that life inevitably brings.

My boyhood was spent in the Fife town of Burntisland, and when the Kirk was built just after the Reformation the sailors on the town wanted to put their mark on their new place of worship. So they carved anchors in both wood and stone, and they carved them upside-down to share with observers ever since that just as their boats were anchored in the sea bed so their lives were anchored with God in heaven.

The words of a hymn come to mind:

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
when the clouds unfold their winds of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
will your anchor drift, or firm remain?

… and the chorus:


We have an anchor that keeps the soul
steadfast and sure while the billows roll;
fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.

May God bless us each new day in discovering and putting into practice the teaching of Jesus!

Prayer

Let us pray:
To you, merciful God,
we commend ourselves
and all who need your help.

Where there is hatred, give love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is sadness, joy;
where there is darkness, light.
Grant that we may not seek so much
to be consoled as to console.
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
For in giving we receive,
in pardoning we are pardoned,
in dying we are born to eternal life.

We pray:
that the resources of the world
may be gathered, distributed, and used
with unselfish motives and scientific skill
for the greatest benefit of all;
that beauty may be given
to our towns and cities,
and left untarnished in the countryside;
that children may grow up strong in body,
sound in mind, and inspired in spirit;

that there may be open ways,
and peace, and freedom,
and health and healing,
from end to end of the earth; that those for whom we have a special concern,
whose names and places are in our hearts and minds,
may know your peace and love,
and spend their years in fulfilment and hope,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Lord’s Prayer

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, and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever,
Amen.

A Benediction for this Advent-tide:

Look forward in hope to the coming of your Saviour,
prepare the way for Christ your Lord;
welcome him with love and faith when he comes in glory.
And the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

Organ Music

Dieterich Buxtehude Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland