St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 28th April 2022
Led by Rev Calum I MacLeod
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
Psalm 42: 1
Let us worship God.
The lesson is Matthew 6: 25-33
25 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
These are precarious days as the world seeks to respond to the crisis in Ukraine, and many voices speak of worry that the situation will deteriorate further.
A good time then to hear these words of practical advice for living which Jesus offers as part of Matthew’s collection of sayings we know as the Sermon on the Mount.
In my minds eye I see Jesus in his poetic mode here, doing what the great nature poets do; seeing in the everyday and the mundane – a bird, a flower – the closeness of God’s presence and the promise that there is a link between the realm of earth and the reign of God (‘what Jesus usually calls ‘the kingdom.’)
In my version of the Bible there is a little editorial ‘help’ given at the start of this passage – it reads, “Do Not Worry.” This is fine and certainly falls into that aspect of Jesus’ saying which I described as ‘practical advice.’
“Of course it’s not good to worry.” we could all agree. “Creates stress, shortens the life-span, gives us grey hairs, etc. etc.” Jesus though is more than a speaker of wisdom or a passer-on of helpful hints for the day.
I am helped in my understanding of this passage by a hymn from Korea based on this passage and entitled ‘Look and Learn.’ It offers in clear language the paradox of sacrifice and trust in God:
When we seek the kingdom first,
all we’ve lost is ours again.
Let’s be done with anxious thoughts,
set aside tomorrow’s cares,
live each day that God provides
putting all our trust in him.
(from the hymn ‘Look and Learn’ by Nah Young-Soo)
Let us pray.
O Christ the Master Carpenter,
be our architect and foreman and colleague,
that we might be fellow-workers
in the construction of your kingdom.
May we build homes for the homeless,
bring hope to the hopeless;
create community for the lonely,
construct a place of sharing for the wealthy,
offer meaning to the bewildered,
and peace to the troubled.
Inspire us to live compassion in the face of meekness,
wholeness in the place of suffering,
life in the face of bereavement,
love in the face of fear.
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
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;
and lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil;
for thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory
for ever and ever, Amen.
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.
J.S.Bach Ach, bleib bei uns BWV 649