St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 20th May 2021
Led by Rev Douglas A O Nicol
The Apostle Paul wrote: ‘Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own, but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature be of the same mind.’ (Philippians, chapter 3: 13-15a)
Let us worship God.
The Gospel according to St. John, chapter 14: 25-31:
Jesus said: ‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.” If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way.’
The hymnwriter Sydney Carter (1915-2004) gave us the words of the popular hymn:
‘And it’s from the old I travel to the new;
keep me travelling along with you.’
The timing of this week’s ‘Midweek Devotion’ means that we are travelling too – travelling in our Christian Year from Ascension Day (on Thursday 13th May – 40 days after Easter Sunday) to Pentecost Sunday – the day when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the early disciples.
In our Scripture Reading today we listened in to Jesus addressing His concerned disciples – they were worried and upset by His talk of betrayal and the thought that He would leave them. Jesus assured His disciples that even though He would return to the Father, the Holy Spirit would come to be with them always and everywhere … and that in these assurances they should find the unshakeable peace that is offered to all by our Christian faith.
As we travel towards Pentecost Sunday, the words of the Bible translator J. B. Philip come alive: ‘Every time we say “I believe in the Holy Spirit”, we mean that we believe there is a living God able and willing to enter human personality and change it.’
Thus may the hymnwriter’s words become our experience:
‘Give me courage when the world is rough,
keep me loving though the world is tough,
leap and sing in all I do,
keep me travelling along with you:’
Let us pray:
God of might and valour,
your grace is all we need.
In our weakness give us strength:
support us in temptation;
make us bold in time of danger;
give us fresh vigour when we lose heart;
and help us to do your work
with a good courage,
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Remember the nations of the world
at this time of pandemic.
Bring to an end all war and strife;
break down the barriers of race and creed,
that we may all live
as members of one family of God.
We commend ourselves to your keeping.
Grant that our hearts may find
their peace and rest in you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit,
be glory, for ever and ever.
Now a prayer for the Church of Scotland General Assembly:
your Son promised His disciples
that he would be with them always.
Hear the prayer we offer for your servants
soon to meet in General Assembly.
May your Holy Spirit rest on them:
a spirit of wisdom and understanding,
a spirit of counsel and power,
a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.
Grant them vision and courage;
unite them in love and peace;
teach them to be trustworthy stewards of your truth
And so guide them in all their doings
that your kingdom may be advanced,
your people confirmed in their most holy faith,
and your unfailing love
declared to all the world,
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,
May the love of the Lord Jesus draw us to himself;
may the power of the Lord Jesus
strengthen us in his service;
may the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our souls;
and may the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be with you and abide with you always.
Dieterich Buxtehude Ciacona in G