St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 24th December 2020
Led by Rev Craig Meek
Welcome to worship online with St. Giles’ Cathedral. Today – of course – is Christmas Eve, and my name is Craig Meek; I am the Assistant Minister here at the Cathedral, and I am delighted that you’ve joined us from wherever you are today for a few moments of prayerful reflection. May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and with those whom you love today, friends. Let us listen together for a Word from our Lord.
A Reading from Philippians 2:1-11
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Christmas Eve feels a bit different his year. Perhaps a bit less jolly than usual; perhaps, too, a bit more lonely for many of us, especially for those of us in Scotland with further restrictions pending and another lockdown looming. Nevertheless, I want to encourage you a bit today, for our passage from Philippians points our hearts and minds towards God Incarnate; the one whom we celebrate this season; the one who considers not equality with God to be something exploited but rather freely chooses to stoop down from eternity in order to be with God’s people – and in this world, I might add. It’s a world riddled with problems and distortions, restrictions and lockdowns, and yet God in Jesus Christ comes to it anyway – and comes to save.
Wherever you are this holiday season, no matter what you might be feeling or what you might be missing, my hope and prayer for you is that you would know something of the nearness and love of the Living God. For as very real and valid as our disappointment or difficulties might be this season, so too is the divine love sees us through times such as these – a love that comes to us again and again and again; indeed, a love which never quits.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
Together in Prayer
Holy and Almighty God, the one who chooses freely to be One who chases after a distorted and difficult world, and never grows weary in doing so; the One who loves without pretension and beyond our wildest expectations, hear our prayers today and remind us again of your nearness during this strange and difficult season.
Knowing that there are a great number of things to celebrate and give thanks for today, we remember first and foremost those for whom it is more difficult than usual: For those who have lost loved ones; for those thrown into chaos and hardship by the present world; and for those lonely or dismayed. Lord God, draw near to these and others like them; comfort and encourage them today, reminding them again that they have our prayers and our love.
We pray, Lord, for those who are dearest to us, as physically distant as they may or may not be, pleading your mercy and blessing upon them in the hours ahead. For though some things are different this year, remind us too that others will never change – for your love embodied and given for us in Jesus Christ remains ever true. May we cling to it ever and always, as we join together our hearts and minds in the prayer that he taught his friends to say together:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on 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. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and Glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Friends, I hope that this brief devotion has been an encouragement to you today. I want to encourage you to tune in again both later today and tomorrow for recordings of our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services at St. Giles’, which will be posted here on the website in due course. Until then, may the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace, both this day and for evermore, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dieterich Buxtehude Puer natus in Bethlehem