Midweek Devotion 4/2/21

St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 4th February 2021
Led by Rev Craig Meek

Welcome

Welcome to worship online with St. Giles’ Cathedral. My name is Craig Meek and I am the Assistant Minister here at the Cathedral, and I am delighted that you’ve joined us today for a short time of reflection and prayer together. May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ soften our hearts and strengthen our spirits, friends. Let us listen together for a Word from our Lord.

A Reading from Psalm 147

1 Praise the Lord!
   How good it is to sing praises to our God;
   for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
   he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the broken-hearted,
   and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars;
   he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
   his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The Lord lifts up the downtrodden;
   he casts the wicked to the ground.

7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
   make melody to our God on the lyre.
8 He covers the heavens with clouds,
   prepares rain for the earth,
   makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He gives to the animals their food,
   and to the young ravens when they cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
   nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;
11 but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
    in those who hope in his steadfast love.

A Reflection

This is one of my favorite passages in all of Holy Scripture; hopeful, confident, there’s almost an excitement in the voice of the Psalmist. The key claim in the opening lines is that YHWH – the Living God – is gracious, and in this particular instance the word translated as grace suggests a kind of aesthetic beauty.[1] And so, suggests the Psalmist, the Living God is beautiful, especially in how this God builds up Jerusalem, heals the broken hearted, binds up their wounds, and calls into existence things of beauty that perhaps mirror God’s own. Moreover, it ought not be lost on us that God’s beauty – at least in this instance – is one colored by justice and reconciliation.

What I love about this Psalm, however, is its assurance about the nature and character of the Living God. The Living God is one who cares about things in our world; who cares about the people who live within it; who delights in the beauty and order of both nature and human life. And because God delights in these things; that is, because God delights in us, the Psalmist says we should sing. Not because we have to, but because it’s difficult not to when we catch a glimpse of the goodness of the Living God.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you catch just such a glimpse; a peak at the beauty and mystery of the Lord. I hope that you feel something of its majesty, its life-giving energies, and its peace. For the Living God is gracious, says the Psalmist, and delights in our lives, always and for ever.

Together in Prayer

Holy and Almighty God, we’re grateful for the love which reaches to us from eternity, a love that binds up wounds, heals the broken-hearted, and brings life to those whose lives have been marked by inequity and hardship. We pray for more of that love; for more of its life-giving energies, for our world and for those whom we love. Dedicating them to your care and mercy, we pray that you bless those dearest to us in the coming days; protect and guide them along life’s many paths, and give them glimpse of your beauty, maybe even one that makes them want to sing.

We pray, Lord, for those traveling through one of life’s darker valleys, and ask that your presence is a little more forceful and comforting among them. Have mercy on them, we pray. For Christ’s sake, have mercy on us all, especially when the world refuses to do so.

The Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is heaven. Given us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever. Amen.

A Blessing

Friends, I hope that this brief devotion has been an encouragement to your today, and that you’ll join us again another time. Until then, may the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace, both this day and for evermore. Amen.

Organ Music

William Russell Voluntary VII in A

[1] Brueggemann, Walter, and William H. Bellinger, Jr. Psalms (New Cambridge Bible Commentary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014) pp. 609-610.