St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 21st October 2021
Led by Rev Sigrid Marten
Welcome to our Midweek Devotions from St. Giles Cathedral.
Let us still our hearts, and be present to God,
as God is always present to us.
Autumn is marked as Creation Time in many Christian churches, a time to give thanks for God’s
good creation and to reflect on our place in it.
In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul says,
“Creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19)
Our lesson for today is found in the book of Leviticus, chapter 25 (verses 1-7). Listen now for the word of God.
As we approach the 2021 United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow, otherwise known as COP26, there is much opportunity in our media to learn about the state of our planet, the very real threat to lives and livelihoods of millions of people and much of nature due to the effects of climate change. In this context, the past year has felt like a warning sign and wake-up call to many people, with its droughts and fires, floods and storms, and erratic weather in so many places.
We are reminded in myriad ways of the impact that human behaviour is having on God’s good creation. We seem to have become so detached from the world around us that we don’t always make the connection between our personal choices and the pollution of land, air and sea. So often we are more concerned with our personal comfort and freedom of choice than with living responsibly and sustainably. It appears we need to re-learn to live as part of God’s creation rather than treat it as a resource for us to exploit at our leisure.
In our text from the book of Leviticus we have one example of how people have known from ancient times that it is important to work with the rhythms of nature, to allow for the ebb and flow, to give the land time to rest after farming it intensively. The Sabbath Year was meant to be a time when the land was to lie fallow, when the people would be content only to harvest what grew naturally – which probably meant having less. This would be an opportunity, not just for the soil to recover, but also for the people to remind themselves that they were to rely on the generosity of God, God’s mercy and kindness, in all of the spheres of their lives; and to strenghten their trust in God. In a society where there was no institution which would provide for people who had too little to survive, that could be a very risky and scary thing to do.
Nowadays, this practice is not observed in many places. And yet, what might we who live in relative comfort and security learn from going without, from being inconvenienced, because we want to treat God’s creation with respect, with gentleness? What could we leave to lie fallow regularly to give the earth a rest from constant exploitation? How much do we trust that in God’s love we have enough, more than enough? When will we reveal ourselves as the children of God? How long will creation have to wait? How long have we got?
Wonderful, all-encompassing God,
we thank you for the wonders of your creation;
for heaven and earth, sea and sky,
teeming with living things.
We thank you that you keep faith with us,
even when we lose faith in you.
We thank you that out of your generosity
there is more than enough for all your creatures.
We thank you that in your sure purposes,
justice will be done and your rule will come.
Lord, our God, we confess
that we have got things out of place.
We have put our trust in mortals, in princes;
we have put our trust in our own self-sufficiency
and in material prosperity.
We have forgotten who we are,
living as if the earth belonged to us, not to you,
neglecting our role as stewards of your creation.
We have neglected the poor,
preferring comfortable ignorance to uncomfortable truth.
Gracious Lord, have mercy on us.
We long for your forgiveness and healing.
Help us to live as reconciled people,
dependent on all that God provides,
open to the life of the Spirit in us and in others,
for Jesus’ sake 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.
Dieterich Buxtehude Vater unser im Himmelreich