St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 26th May 2022
Led by Rev Craig Meek
Welcome everyone to online worship with St. Giles’ Cathedral. My name is Craig Meek; I’m one of the Assistant Ministers at St. Giles’ and I’m delighted that you’ve joined me today for a few moments of reflection and prayer together. May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and with those whom you love today, friends. We begin first in prayer together. Let us pray
Holy and Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of your people. And so, grant us the grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Scripture Reading – Acts 1:1-11
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning 2 until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 While staying[a] with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ 7 He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ 9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’
Today is Ascension Thursday in the Protestant Christian tradition; a day in which we celebrate our Lord’s departure from his disciples and begin to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Spirit, who will guide and lead God’s people of faith – both then and now. But theologically, the Ascension has a much deeper meaning than the scripture story seems to suggests. For in the ascension, Jesus Christ’s mission in redeeming the world and reconciling a fallen humanity to God’s very self is completed. Having taken a common humanity to himself in the incarnation and given his life upon the cross in the crucifixion, our resurrected Lord now ascends to his heavenly Father and presents to him our common humanity in its wounded perfection. Put a bit different, we must think of the Incarnation, Atonement, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord as one single divine act – God’s eternal and loving decision to save and redeem at God’s very own cost; an act that overcomes our alienation and estrangement from God, defeating death with life and bringing hope to a world and people in sinful ruin.
And so, Happy Ascension Day, friends. May you know well the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who binds himself to us eternally and mercifully so that we might have life in abundance both now and forever more. Let us pray.
Holy and Almighty God, the Living One who loves without question and desires more for us that we could ever desire for ourselves, teach us again those peaceful rhythms of grace that direct our lives towards streams of mercy, that we might be a little more loving – a little more graceful – and a little more life-giving to one another in days ahead.
Make us faithful, Lord; watch over us and over those whom we love, and let our lives be a blessing to others as we go about our ways. For these things we ask in the name of Christ Jesus, who taught his friends to say together:
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is heaven. Given 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 the glory for ever. Amen.
Friends, I hope that this brief devotion has been an encouragement to your today, and that you’ll join us again another time. 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. Amen.