St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 6th May 2021
Led by Rev Craig Meek
Welcome and Prayer
Welcome everyone to another Thursday devotional with St. Giles’ Cathedral. My name is Craig Meek, I’m one of the Assistant Ministers at the Cathedral and I’m delighted that you’ve taken a few moments out of your day to join me today in prayer and reflection. I hope that our time together will be an encouragement to you, as we look forward to the end of our week and whatever blessings that await. As we begin today, we do so in prayer and I invite you to pray with me.
Holy and Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever more. Amen.
Reading – Psalm 32
1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’,
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
shall not reach them.
7 You are a hiding-place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.
Reading – Job 42:1-6
Then Job answered the Lord:
2 ‘I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 “Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?”
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 “Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you declare to me.”
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.’
The Book of Job is wonderful read. Comprised of short narratives at the beginning and end, the majority of the writing is a conversation between Job and his friends, the content of which is centred around why so many awful things have befallen such an upright and faithful person. Throughout these conversations, Job defends his innocence. He’s done nothing unfaithful; there is no good reason as to why his body is riddled with sores or why both his family and fortune have been taken from him. At his wits end, Job cries out to God – angry and hopeless – only for God to respond to him in a great whirlwind.
Following a poetic and skilfully composed account of God’s mighty acts in creating and creation, God ceases to speak and Job responds in humility and terror with the words from our second reading today. Job knows not the ways of the Lord and admits his fault in questioning the ways of the Almighty; hardly a satisfying theodicy – or reason for evil – if you ask me.
In all truthfulness, I’ve never quite settled with Job’s narrative myself. It offers us neither an adequate reason for evil nor a particularly satisfying portrait of the living God. What it does offer us, however, is a strikingly honest depiction of the human condition; a restlessness and wrestling with the ways of the Almighty that is surely familiar to anyone who knows well the dark night of the soul. And yet, perhaps what Job’s story demonstrates for us is that even amidst such darkness, we have a faithful companion. Hidden and transcendent, though God may be, that need not entail that God is far off and away. For often, God is nearer to us than we realize, granting us both an ear to which we might cry out and a steady shoulder on which we might lean. Perhaps this is something of what it means for God to be faithful; perhaps this is something of what it means for God to be Almighty. For regardless of why evil permeates our world – and all too often our lives – perhaps there’s still good reason for us to take courage in the one whose presence with and among us in Jesus Christ means not only that he’s overcome such things, trampling death with death in resurrection, but also that we may be able to do so as well. For in Christ, we are more than conquerors, says St. Paul, even if at times that might like a lot like lament rather than peace, or endurance rather than triumph.
Merciful and Gracious God, the one who is faithful forever and always to be both loving and kind, hear the prayers of your people today as we approach the throne of grace through Jesus Christ our Lord, who intercedes on our behalf and makes our finite and imperfect offerings faithful and pleasing to your ears.
Lord God, hear our prayers for this strange and wonderful world. Marked by flaws and injustices, the beauty of the earth and its people are a wondrous testament to your creativity and beauty; may we learn to better care for these things, as you so carefully and mercifully care for us. May you teach us those life-giving rhythms of grace and goodness that plead the cause of the oppressed; give a voice to the voiceless; resist unjust authorities; and foster life and well-being to those in our world who need it most.
Hear our prayers, Lord, for those whom we love most and dear to us. Protect and guide them in days ahead and lead them on life’s good and peaceful paths. We think especially of those whom we know that battle the evilness of disease and cancer; others across the world who continue to battle the Corona virus; and anyone who may need a special measure of your presence and peace this day. May you provide for each us more than we could imagine or ask for Lord; for you are the great and wonderful giver of gifts, faithful to no end. For it is with gratitude and thanksgiving that we offer our prayers today in the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
This concludes our time together, friends. I hope it has been an encouragement to you, and that you’ll join us again at 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 life up his countenance upon you and give you peace, both this day and forever more. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
François Couperin Tierce en taille