Midweek Devotion 3/2/22

St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

Midweek Devotion 3rd February 2022

Led by Rev Professor Kenneth Boyd

Welcome to online devotion with St Giles’ Cathedral, today Thursday the 3rd of February 2022

Scripture Reading            Luke chapter 2, verses 22-38

22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,  according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Reflection

On the cover of the the historian Nicholas Orme’s fascinating new book about mediaeval churchgoing, there is the reproduction of a delightful painting of villagers wending their way to the parish church at Candlemas, carrying their candles and followed by their dogs. Yesterday was Candlemas day and those parishioners probably would have heard the same Gospel reading as we have just read: Luke’s story of the presentation of Christ in the temple and the recognition by Simeon and Anna of the baby’s destiny. 

But the ‘light for revelation to the Gentiles’ that Simeon recognised and Anna praised, and that theologians would call the incarnation of the Word, was not something that happened just in the dim and distant past. Jesus, when grown, would teach that the kingdom of God is ‘within you’ and ‘between you’’: God was not some terrifying power to be placated with correct behaviour and ritual sacrifices, but ‘our Father’, who could be known and related to, in the heart and mind of individuals and communities. The Old Testament prophets had sometimes glimpsed this, but Jesus confirmed it; and did so at a time when historical conditions enabled it to be accepted and embraced across the known world. So what Jesus meant would be made flesh, not just in his own earthly life, death and resurrection, but also in the lives of the great company of souls who over the centuries have found new life and health and peace in the assurance of faith and mutual forgiveness, and like Jesus himself, in ‘the silence of eternity, interpreted by love’.

In peace let us pray to the Lord.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind;
In purer lives your service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

Dear Father, we pray for your world:
for our human brothers and sisters, your children everywhere;
and especially for those threatened by famine or conflict
who in their distress or despair do not know where to turn.
We pray especially for the people of Afghanistan and of Ukraine.

Still the weary folk are pining
For the hour that brings release
And the city’s crowded clangour
Cries aloud for sin to cease;
And the homesteads and the woodlands
Plead in silence for their peace.

Hear them O Lord, and help us too, to hear them.
Give us the eyes through which Christ looks in compassion on the world,
The imagination and hands to help wherever we can.

As members of the great company of Christian souls in all ages,
We pray also for our families and friends
in words written a thousand years ago by St Anselm.

O blessed Lord, who hast commanded us to love one another,
grant us grace that having received thine undeserved bounty,
we may love everyone in thee and for thee.
We implore thy clemency for all,
but especially for the friends whom thy love has given to us.
Love thou them, O thou fountain of love,
And make them to love thee with all their heart,
That they may will, and speak, and do those things only which are pleasing to thee.
Amen

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.

Blessing

And now may the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
bless, preserve and keep us and all God’s children,
in the joy, simplicity, and compassion of the gospel.         Amen

Organ Music

Johannes Brahms: Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele