Midweek Devotion 30/6/22

St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

Midweek Devotion 30th June 2022

Led by Rev Professor Kenneth Boyd

Welcome to online devotion with St Giles’ Cathedral, today Thursday the 30th of June 2022

Scripture Reading     Matthew 9: 2-8

2 And some people were carrying to him a paralyzed man lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, child; your sins are forgiven.” Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Stand up, take your bed, and go to your home.” And he stood up and went to his home. When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings.

Reflection

Because of the faith of the people bringing a paralyzed man to him, Jesus tells the man that his sins are forgiven. The scribes complain that Jesus is blaspheming. They believe that only God can forgive sins, in other words that sins can be forgiven only through the correct rituals of the religion of which they are custodians. Jesus replies that it’s no more difficult to forgive sins than to tell the paralyzed man to stand up and walk – which, when told, the man promptly does. Jesus then informs them that ‘the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ and as the story ends,  the crowds ‘glorified God who had given such authority to human beings’.

In this story, Jesus deliberately calls himself ‘the Son of Man’. Whatever else this name implies, it clearly means, as the crowd at the end recognise, a human being, one of us; and it is as one of us that Jesus forgives and heals. The risk in most religion, including Christianity, is that the difficulty of forgiving and being forgiven is made more difficult by a feeling that we or others need to do enough, be contrite enough, to deserve to be forgiven; and the difficulty of ever really being sure about that, can be emotionally paralyzing.  But for Jesus, the point about forgiving and being forgiven, is that we cannot earn forgiveness, either for what we have wrongly thought or said or done, or just as importantly, for the social injustices in which most of us in wealthy nations are complicit. We need rather, the grace of simplicity, simply to accept and go on accepting that we are forgiven and so must forgive. And  then stand up and walk towards becoming a little more what we and the world were created to be. ‘In simple trust like theirs who heard, beside the Syrian sea, the gracious calling of the Lord, let us, like them, without a word, rise up and follow thee.’

In peace let us pray to the Lord.

Our prayers today are taken from Day by Day, by the Rev Peter W Millar, published in India in 1984.

forgiving others
O God, I find it so hard to forgive other people.
Even in my own family, I cannot forgive those who have wronged me.
I often feel so full of bitterness and I have so little love in my heart for those who have upset me.
Lord, in my better moments, I know that You want me to forgive.
You long for me to forgive.
You try to show me that hatred is wrong.
Help me to be still and listen to Your voice.
Jesus. Help me to hear again Your wonderful words:
“But now I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
And give me enough of Your divine strength, so that I may have forgiveness in my heart, O Lord my God.  AMEN

for a thankful heart
Lord, we realise that we need Your strength every day of our life.
Without Your divine power we are poor people indeed – no matter how many possessions we may have around us.
You have given me so much – and sometimes it is easy to forget your gifts.
As I go through this day, may I, again and again, be able to say
“thank you, Lord” for all your love towards me.
May I be able to say with the Psalmist – I will sing a new song to the Lord, for he has done wonderful things.  AMEN

for all those working for peace and justice
In every country, Lord Jesus, many of your people are working for peace and for real justice.
Their work is often hard and unrewarding: it often brings difficulties and hardships, for it goes against established and powerful interests.
Let me pray now, Lord, for all those who are trying to make our world a more peaceful place.
Let me remember all those who are sharing the struggles of the poor and of the exploited.
Let me remember Lord Jesus, that when we look into the faces of the oppressed and the downtrodden and the exploited, we see Your face.
And in my own situation, at home and in my work, help me in some small way to be part of this great work which is Your work in our divided world today.  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

Dieterich Buxtehude Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist BuxWV 208