Midweek devotion 7/1/21

St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

Midweek Devotion 7th January 2021

Led by Rev Calum I MacLeod

Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God

Micah 6: 8

Let us worship God.

The lesson is written in the Gospel of Mark in chapter 1

The beginning of the good news[a of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.[b]

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,[c]

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,[d]
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”

John the baptizer appeared[e] in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with[f] water; but he will baptize you with[g] the Holy Spirit.” In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved;[h] with you I am well pleased.”

The word of the Lord; thanks be to God

Reflection

As we engage in the ecumenical practice of following the readings set for each Sunday (known as the Revised Common Lectionary) we find ourselves focusing this year on the gospel according to St. Mark.

Reflecting on the opening verses of Mark’s gospel in theses days after Christmas is to be forcefully struck that for Mark there is no nativity story – no holy family, no stable, no shepherds or wise men.

What we do have (to use my childhood minister’s trick of three alliterative points) is a proclamation, a person and a parent.

The proclamation is that what this is all about is good news – the good news of the inbreaking of heaven to earth, the fulfillment of God’s promised presence with us made through the prophet Isaiah.

The person is John the baptizer, outsider, resident of the wilderness, oddly dressed and yet absolutely clear in knowledge and insight about the nature of Jesus, ‘the one who is more powerful.’

The parent, of course, is God, who declares upon Jesus’ baptism ‘You are my Son.’

It is easy to miss the familiar nativity narrative, for we are all able to identify with the idea of family and birth and baby, even when surrounded by the miraculous as in Luke’s telling. Mark, though, as will happen throughout the gospel, takes us to unfamiliar territory and challenges our assumptions about religion and life and faith. And in doing so remains faithful to the message of the one whose gospel he brought us.

Prayer
Open our eyes to see and our ears to hear, O God, as we encounter your word of life and love in our daily reading of scripture.

Living God, you demonstrate your love for us
Though our Lord Jesus Christ.
When we are powerless,
Stand with us in our weakness.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God, you demonstrate your love for the world
Through the self-giving of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We remember those who are powerless in our world
And stand with them in their weakness.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God, as we stand with others
May we understand more fully the life we share in common.
In understanding more fully
May we embrace the richness of the life you gift us.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God, your Holy Spirit
Is the Lord and Giver of Life.
May your love be poured into our hearts
And our lives renewed.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God,
Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer,
Embrace us, and all Creation,
In the love you demonstrate through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

O Lord hear our prayers for ourselves and others as we join together in the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father,
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 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, Amen.

The Benediction
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.
(Amen)

Organ Music

François Couperin Cromhorne sur le taille