Midweek Devotion 20/1/22

St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

Midweek Devotion 20th January 2022

Led by Rev Sigrid Marten 

Welcome to our Midweek Devotions from St. Giles, the High Kirk of Edinburgh, on the 20th of January.

At this time of year the World Church marks the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, remembering Christ’s prayer, “that they may all be one” (John 17:21). Each year the material for reflection and worship is produced by churches from a different region to celebrate the great diversity and wealth of insight of God’s people. The material for this year was created by the Middle East Council of Churches. Their theme is ‘We saw his star in the East’, and they invite us to look more closely at the story of the magi who came to pay homage to the Christ child at the manger in Bethlehem.

Therefore our lesson today is taken from the gospel of Matthew, chapter 2 (verses 1-12).

Reflection

In the introduction to their material our brothers and sisters from the Middle Eastern churches invite us to remember that the Magi have sometimes been seen as a symbol of the world’s diversity – different religions and cultures, representing therefore the unity of all God’s children. Even though they come from different backgrounds, they are driven by the same hunger to see and know the new-born king and are gathered into the little house in Bethlehem in the simple act of giving homage. In this we can find a metaphor for Christian unity: that is, of different Christian peoples drawn together in their common search to recognise Christ, to know him and to worship him, and witnessing to wider need for unity and to overcome injustice.

They remind us that, “It was in the Middle East that the Word of God took root and bore fruit: thirty and sixty and one hundredfold. And it was from this East that the apostles set out to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). The Middle East has given thousands of Christian witnesses and thousands of Christian martyrs. And yet now, the very existence of the small Christian community is threatened as many are driven to seek a more secure and prosperous life elsewhere. Like the light which is the child Jesus, the light of Middle Eastern Christianity is increasingly threatened in these difficult times.

In this context Christians are called to seek the new-born king, the king of gentleness, peace and love. But where is the star that leads the way to him? It is the mission of the Church to be the star that lights the way to Christ who is the light of the world. By word and through action the Christian people are called to light the way so that Christ might be revealed, once again, to the nations. Yet divisions dim the light of Christian witness and obscure the way, preventing others from finding their way to Christ. Conversely, Christians united in their worship of Christ, and opening their treasures in an exchange of gifts, become a sign of the unity that God desires for all of creation.

The Covid-19 global pandemic; the economic crisis that has followed and the failure of political, economic and social structures to protect the weakest and most vulnerable; and the racism that blights our communities have underlined the global need for a light to shine in the darkness. The star that shone in the East, (the Middle East), two thousand years ago still leads us to the manger, to where Christ was born. It draws us to where the Spirit of God is alive and active.”

Prayer

With our friends in the Middle East we pray,

“Creator of light,
illumine our path by the light of Christ
who moves before us and leads us.
May he be a beacon for our pilgrimage.
Enlighten us and dwell within us.
Guide us to discover a manger in our hearts
where a great light still shines.
We thank you for the gift of that unfading Star, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
Heal our divisions and draw us closer to the Light that we may find our unity in him.”

We pray for all God’s children
who suffer because there is division
in their communities:
division between neighbours,
division between different faith groups,
division because of politics,
conflict over resources and power.
We pray that there may be unity and respect for one another.

We remember all whom we know
who are living with division and conflict
in their families and their circle of friends,
for those whose relationships
are at breaking point,
those who are not sure any more
how to cross the divide.
We pray that there may be
new avenues for honest conversations,
new ways found
for dealing kindly with one another.

We pray for those among us who are lonely,
those who are house-bound,
people who are in pain,
those who are waiting for treatment,
and those for whom there is no more treatment.
We ask that they may know your presence
and feel your loving arm around them.
May there be people near them
who can offer a hand of friendship,
be a light in the darkness.

We ask this in Jesus’ name who 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 now, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with us all.
Amen

Organ Music

J.S.Bach Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten BWV 647