Midweek Devotion 7/7/22

St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

Midweek Devotion 7th July 2022

Led by Rev Calum I MacLeod

My soul magnifies the Lord, 
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour

                                                                        Luke 1: 46/7

The lesson is Mark 4:10-13

10When Jesus was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; 12in order that 

‘they may indeed look, but not perceive,
and may indeed listen, but not understand;
so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’”

13And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables?

The Word of the Lord; thanks be to God.

Reflection

English academic, author and literary critic Frank Kermode offers an interesting reading of this all too familiar parable in his study of Mark’s gospel, entitled “The Genesis of Secrecy.”

Kermode focuses on the paradoxical statements of Jesus about hearers

‘who may indeed look, but not perceive,
may indeed listen, but not understand’

(paraphrasing the prophet Isaiah) and how Jesus contrasts this to the disciples who have been ‘given the secret’ thus making them the ultimate insiders in regard to understanding the meaning of the ‘kingdom of God.’

Ironically, Kermode points out, Jesus then has to explain the meaning of the parable to the very same disciples, so that in reality they are just as much ‘outsiders’ as anyone else.

The concept of the ‘outsider’ who is welcomed ‘in’ by Jesus is fundamental to the gospel narratives (tax-collectors, prostitutes, lepers, Samaritans, mentally and physically ill people)  and Kermode helps us think about the obverse of that – the seeming ‘insider’ who is not in reality living the life of the kingdom of God – like the Priest and Levite in the parable of the caring Samaritan.

What chance do any of us have if even Jesus’ disciples do not measure up?

As the hymn says:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me.
Amen

Prayer

Let us pray.

God whose love endures,
May we hear the words of your Son
That echo down the ages:
I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God whose love is generous,
You gift to us your Holy Spirit,
The very giver of Life.
Renew our lives and the life of the community in which we share.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God whose love is steadfast,
You know us as we are for you have made us.
In your compassion, be with all who struggle and grieve at this time.
Remember them and hold them safe in your keeping.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God whose love is from everlasting to everlasting,
Give strength to the weary and power to the weak,
That we might renew our strength
And soar on wings like eagles.
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, 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, 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