St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 26th August 2021
Led by Rev Douglas Nicol
The Psalmist wrote: ‘From the rising of the sun to its setting, may the Lord’s name be praised. Blessed be the name of the Lord now and for evermore’ (Psalm 113)
Let us worship God.
The Gospel according to St. Matthew 25: 1-13
Jesus said: ‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.’
The Nobel Peace Prize winner, Albert Schweitzer, once said in the language of his generation: ‘Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility in the realm of faith and morals’.
Set in the context of teaching about His return in judgement, our parable today tells of both wise and foolish bridesmaids. Parables are often called ‘earthly stories with heavenly meanings’, and in this one Jesus reaffirms the points He has already made that because His return will be unexpected so His followers must always be ready for it.
But in this parable Jesus goes further by reminding His listeners firstly that time for preparation will run out, and secondly that preparation must be made at an individual level – preparations cannot be borrowed from someone else!
These are important lessons in all areas of life, as Albert Schweitzer highlights. Our time is finite, let us make the best use of every moment … and let us accept personal responsibility for responding to the challenges that each day will bring.
Such daily commitment was expressed by 18th Century hymnwriter, Charles Wesley, in these words:
‘Forth in thy name. O Lord, I go,
my daily labour to pursue,
thee, only thee, resolved to knowin all I think, or speak, or do.
The task thy wisdom hath assigned
oh, let me cheerfully fulfil,
in all my works thy presence find,
and prove thy good and perfect will.
For thee delightfully employ
whate’er thy bounteous grace has given,
and run my course with even joy,
and closely walk with thee to heaven.’
Let us pray:
you have promised in your mercy
to forgive the sins of all who turn to you
with hearty repentance and true faith.
Have mercy upon us, we pray;
pardon and deliver us from all our sins;
confirm and strengthen us in all goodness;
and bring us to everlasting life:
God of faithfulness,
your generous love supplies us
with the fruits of the earth in their season.
Give us grace to be thankful for your gifts,
to use them wisely,
and to share our plenty with others:
We pray for all caught up in crisis in Afghanistan,
for all experiencing even now the volatile situation at Kabul Airport,
for all sheltering in town, village and rural area for fear of reprisal,
for all working at this moment to ensure safe passage for those at risk.
for all even in the midst of crisis seeking to offer humanitarian aid:
We pray for all who suffer, especially all affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Surround them with your love,
support them with your strength,
console them with your comfort,
and give them hope
and courage beyond themselves:
these and all our prayers we offer in Jesus’s Name.
The Lord’s Prayer
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,
The guarding of the God of life be on you,
the guarding of the loving Christ be on you,
the guarding of the Holy Spirit be on you
to aid you and enfold you
each day and night of your lives.
Flor Peeters Aria