St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 22nd April 2021
Led by Rev Douglas A O Nicol
A warm welcome to our Midweek Devotion on Thursday 22nd April. Let us worship God.
‘John saw Jesus coming towards him and declared. ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ (St. John, chapter 1, verse 29)
In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 8, verse 26, we read:
Then the angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Get up and go towards the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over to this chariot and join it.’ So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ He replied, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me? And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:
‘Like a sheep that was led to the slaughter,
and like a lamb silent before its shearer,
so does not open his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.’
The eunuch asked Philip, ‘About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?’ Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?’ He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptised him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
One of the most memorable processions I have witnessed over the years is the Meskel Festival in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is organised each September by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, a church which traces its roots back to our reading today. The Meskel Festival dates as far back as the 4th Century AD and celebrates the finding of the true cross by Queen Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor, Constantine. And true to the tradition that the Queen discovered the cross by lighting a fire, the Meskel Festival begins with a huge bonfire in the heart of the city – in Meskel Square. Then, as Autumn dusk falls, the colourful procession is made up of men and women in traditional dress, all carrying torches that light up the evening sky. It is an experience never to be forgotten!
And the Ethiopian Orthodox Church uses the occasion of the Festival to affirm to local and visitor alike the central belief of our Christian faith that through the death on the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ we are offered freedom from sin and its consequences.
This is what the Ethiopian official discovered when the disciple, Philip, explained the words of Scripture to him. He found the words of John the Baptist came true in his experience: ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’.
May His forgiveness be for us a daily experience!
Let us pray:
‘Dear Lord and Father of mankind
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind;
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.’
God of all mercy,
give us grace to make a fresh start today.
We know we have not loved you
with our whole heart,
nor have we loved our neighbour as ourselves.
As we hope to be forgiven,
teach us also to forgive;
and lead us forward to a new life
where neither grudges
nor resentment have a part;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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,
A Gaelic Blessing
Deep peace of the running waves to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the smiling stars to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the watching shepherds to you,
Deep peace of Christ, the Son of Peace to you.
Dieterich Buxtehude Vater unser im Himmelreich