St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 27th May 2021
Led by Rev Calum I MacLeod
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
maker of heaven and earth.
Let us worship God
The lesson is 2 Corinthians 10: 1-10
I myself, Paul, appeal to you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— 2I ask that when I am present I need not show boldness by daring to oppose those who think we are acting according to human standards. 3Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards; 4for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments 5and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. 6We are ready to punish every disobedience when your obedience is complete.
7Look at what is before your eyes. If you are confident that you belong to Christ, remind yourself of this, that just as you belong to Christ, so also do we. 8Now, even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. 9I do not want to seem as though I am trying to frighten you with my letters. 10For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.”
The Word of the Lord; thanks be to God.
What a jumble of paradoxes the apostle Paul appears to be when he is speaking of himself as he does here in 2 Corinthians chapter 10. He acknowledges that he appears ‘humble’ when he is physically present, but ‘bold’ when writing one of his letters; his humility does not stop him offering a discourse on the ethics of ‘boasting;’ his refusal to ‘compare’ himself with his adversaries is followed up with the judgment that “they do not show good sense.”
He even seems to give some credence to the charge against him that he is a poor speaker (v. 10) Can it really be that Paul – evangelist, church planter, theological giant of the early church – couldn’t preach very well? (Perhaps this is one reason why poor Eutychus fell to his apparent death while listening to him in Acts 20!)
One might think that an eloquent tongue might be a pre-condition for serving as a messenger (apostle) of God but over and over again the Bible tells of God calling people to service despite limitations in their ability to speak.
Moses pushes against God’s call because he claims to be ‘not eloquent’ and ‘slow of tongue.’ In his visionary encounter with God, Isaiah declares himself to have ‘unclean lips.’ Jeremiah’s rejoinder to God’s call to prophesy is “I do not know how to speak.”
In each of these cases God overcomes the perceived limitations in a person’s life and empowers them to acts of great faith. What limitations do we offer to God as an excuse?
Take, O take me as I am,
summon out what I shall be.
(from the hymn by John Bell)
Son of God, source of life, we invoke your goodness upon us
and upon the entire human family.
Allow us to live by your life
and to walk as children of light in the joy of Easter.
Increase the faith of your church;
may it faithfully bear witness to your resurrection.
Give strength to the sick, O Lord, support the infirm
and reassure the dying by your saving presence.
O Lord hear our prayers for ourselves and others as we join together in 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,
Be of good courage, render no-one evil for evil,
but hold fast to the good; honour all of God’s people,
and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the Communion of the Holy Spirit
be with you
and all whom you love
this day and for ever.
Dieterich Buxtehude Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott BuxWV 200