St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 6th January 2022
Led by Rev Calum MacLeod
Arise, shine for your light has come.
Let us worship God
The Scripture reading is Matthew 2: 1-12
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6 “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’
7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ 9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
Today is the day in the church calendar we know as Epiphany (which means appearance) and it celebrates the manifestation of Jesus to the world as savior. The traditional focus for the festival is the visit of the wise men to pay homage to the child Jesus in Bethlehem. The story of the visitation of the wise men (or magi has, of course, been a favorite of poets and artists throughout the years.
Have you ever wondered why this story has been such an inspiration to the painters and poets who even today return to explore its meaning? Perhaps it is because of the simple mystery of these anonymous star-gazers, gift-givers and dreamers; or maybe it is that the story has something so basically human about it – mother, baby, visitors – that it connects with our experience and transcends time; and I am sure that the theme of journey is one which resonates with many people who (rightly) understand faith not as a destination but a pilgrimage.
I think it is safe to say that in addition to any of these, the story fascinates because of the paradox of the these important men of the world who have audiences with kings, travelling to an insignificant corner of an insignificant town to kneel in front of an ostensibly insignificant child; a paradox that is prophetic of the new kingship God anoints.
The Child we seek doesn’t need our gold.
On love, on love alone
He will build his kingdom.
(From a poem by Gian Carlo Menotti)
Let us pray
We arise O Lord and seek to shine For your light has come
And your glory has been made known to us in the word made flesh,
dwelling among us.
We arise O lord and seek to shine
For as those shepherds and star seekers of old came to the place of your birth
We too have travelled to Bethelehem
To see the Christ, the new born king.
Keep us focussed on the light
which has come into the darkness,
that like the magi, we would come to the place of revealing,
of epiphany, in our lives and relationships.
Into the world’s darkness
your light has come in Jesus the Christ.
We pray for the places which plead for more light.
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,
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.
Marcel Dupré Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern