Midweek Devotion 26/11/20

St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

Midweek Devotion 26th November 2020

Led by Rev Douglas A O Nicol

Jesus said: ‘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.’ (John 14: 27)

Let us worship God.

Scripture Reading

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures for ever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Reflection

‘What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope for the meaning of life.’ – words attributed to the Swiss reformed theologian, the late Emil Brunner.

In the course of recent days, a sense of hope has been returning to humankind as news of three vaccines to protect against Coronavirus have been announced. Even though they have yet to be finally approved, they still have offered a glimmer of light at the end of a long tunnel.

Not that we know yet how long and difficult the tunnel of restrictions on normal life is yet to be, with restricted Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations and with dire warnings being given about a ‘hard winter’ ahead. Yet despite all of that there is hope – hope that sometime next year life we will all be able to enjoy life in all its fulness.

The range of emotions being experienced by all of us over these months is fully reflected in the Psalms of the Old Testament, and our Scripture Reading today is a processional psalm that invites us to be joyful in the assurance that the love and faithfulness of God will for ever be present in our lives.

This coming Sunday is the First in Advent, the time of year when we, with the prophets, wise men and shepherds of old, prepare ourselves to celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. In this year of pandemic the words of our Advent hymns are especially poignant as they declare the Christ Child as the one who comes to offer us hope in place of despair.

Here for example are words which originated in the 18th century which reflect that reality, and which lead us on in each chorus to embrace the joy of the Psalmist:

‘O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight:’
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

May joy and hope be ours over this Advent Season!

Prayer

Let us pray:

God, ground of our hope,
when we are cast down or dismayed,
keep alive in us your spirit of hope.
Fill us with all joy and peace
as we lead the life of faith,
until, by the power of the Holy Spirit,
we overflow with hope;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lord our God,
source and giver of all good things,
we thank you for all your mercies
and for your loving care over all creation.

We bless you for the gift of life:
for your protection around us,
your guiding hand upon us,
your steadfast love within us.
We thank you for friendship and duty,
for precious memories and good hopes,
for joys that cheer us
and trials that teach us to trust in you.

Above all at this time we give you thanks
for the women and men of science
who are developing vaccines to protect humankind.
Guide and strengthen them in their endeavour, we pray.

Today we pray for all in need:
for the hungry, the homeless and the abused
for all suffering from Coronavirus
for all who feel the pain of separation through restriction, through distance, or through death
and for those for whom we have a special concern in our family and friendship circle …

May all find in this coming Advent Season the joy, the hope and the peace that only the babe of Bethlehem can fully offer.

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,
Amen.

Benediction (Romans 15: 13)

May God, who is the ground of hope,
fill you with all joy and peace
as you lead the life of faith
until, by the power of the Holy Spirit,
you overflow with hope.

And the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
be among you and remain with you.

Amen

Organ Music
Johann Nikolaus Hanff Auf meinen lieben Gott