St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 4th March 2021
Led by Rev Douglas A O Nicol
The apostle Paul wrote: ‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Romans 8: 38 and 39)
Let us worship God.
In Psalm 121, the Psalmist wrote:
‘I lift up my eyes to the hills –
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun will not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and for evermore.’
One of the challenges which many of us are facing in lockdown is the necessary restrictions to travel which mean that we cannot enjoy as we would the hills and mountains of Scotland. So it was with a certain wistfulness that I read the first verse of our Psalm: ‘I lift up my eyes to the hills’!
Our New Revised Standard Version translation helps us however to move on, for after a statement about the hills the Psalmist asks a question: ‘From where will my help come?’, and then gives us the answer: ‘My safely comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth’. Whilst over the generations women and men have sought solace and safety in the hills, true safety lies not in the hills themselves but in the One who created them.
Psalm 121 is a constant reminder that God made all things, that He loves all that He made, and that He offers safety to all who put their trust in Him. It was the early Christian writer, Tertullian, who said: ‘If I give you a rose, you won’t doubt God anymore’, and he is so right, for when we spend time pondering the beauty of a rose, or a Spring flower, or the wonder of a new born baby, or the power of a waterfall, or the majesty of the hills we are brought right back to the one who created them all. And he is safer than the hills for He is the one who made them!
One of the great joys of family life is seeing trust in our children and grandchildren – and this incident comes to mind. A young lad had been pleading with his Dad to buy him a new car – a Lego model which he would have to build before he could play. The promise was made that the next day his Dad would take him to buy the car – and with the promise made the family settled to their tea and some family time. However even though one of the youngster’s favourite programmes was on television he slipped down from the sofa and started playing by himself in a corner of the room … ‘Vroom! Vroom! – or the screeching of brakes! ‘What are you doing?’, asked his Dad … and as quick as a flash the youngster replied, ‘I’m playing with the car I’m getting tomorrow!’.
Is that not supreme trust? – his Dad had promised him a car, so without doubt he was going to have it! It is such trust that God calls us to have as we journey together through Lent – knowing safety and trust today and with the future is in God’s hands! To paraphrase the youngster’s words we might say: ‘I’m living with the safety I’ll have tomorrow!’
And the words of the Psalmist of old come alive again today: ‘‘I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
May God bless us in living with this assurance!
Let us pray:
To you, merciful God,
we commend ourselves
and all who need your help.
Where there is hatred, give love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is sadness, joy;
where there is darkness, light.
Grant that we may not seek so much
to be consoled as to console.
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
For in giving we receive,
in pardoning we are pardoned,
in dying we are born to eternal life.
that the resources of the world
may be gathered, distributed, and used
with unselfish motives and scientific skill
for the greatest benefit of all;
that beauty may be given
to our towns and cities,
and left untarnished in the countryside;
that children may grow up strong in body,
sound in mind, and inspired in spirit;
that there may be open ways,
and peace, and freedom,
and health and healing,
from end to end of the earth;
that those for whom we have a special concern,
whose names and places are in our hearts and minds,
may know your peace and love,
and spend their years in fulfilment and hope,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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,
The guarding of the God of life be on you,
the guarding of the loving Christ be on you,
the guarding of the Holy Spirit be on you
to aid you and enfold you
each day and night of your lives.
J.S.Bach Wer nur den lieben Gott last walten BWV 647