St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 8th October 2020
Led by Rev Calum I MacLeod
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Psalm 51: 10
Let us worship God
The lesson is Psalm 40: 1-8
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the desolate pit,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
4 Happy are those who make the Lord their trust,
who do not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after false gods.
5 You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts towards us;
none can compare with you.
Were I to proclaim and tell of them,
they would be more than can be counted.
6 Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt-offering and sin-offering
you have not required.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8 I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.’
There is a refrain which appears throughout the Old Testament in which we learn that God is not satisfied with the empty, meaningless attempts by humans to offer to God worship that consists of doing things by rote; prayer, sacrifice, offering. Throughout the books of the prophets the people are warned that worship and even God’s presence in the temple, is not to be taken for granted; that it must be matched by the way of life of the community in which justice is lived, the marginalized are cared for, the stranger is welcomed. These prophetic admonitions find a climax in the words of the prophet Micah:
God has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God
Lest we think that this is some kind of aberration in the life of Israel, peddled by the spirit-filled poets we know as the prophets, here it is in the Psalms – the prayer book of the Bible.
“Sacrifice and offering you do not require…
your law is within my heart.”
(vv. 6 and 8)
A later prophet, whom we know as St. Paul, is in continuity with this line of thinking as he calls people to a new way of life in which the external acts of worship prescribed by the Law do not replace the need for how, in our inner being, we seek to love God and our neighbor; what he calls (with the poet’s touch and perhaps an echo from Psalm 40) “circumcision of the heart” (Romans 2: 29)
In whom we live and move and have our being,
in you we live
for you are around us, beside us, within us;
in you we move
because you create all things new,
ever challenging and stirring us to leave our old selves behind;
in you we have our being,
for you are the ground of all being,
and your breath, your Spirit,
is what animates our lives and our love.
Praise to you O God, Creator, Redeemer, Companion.
And in you O God, the world lives and moves and has being,
through your Son Jesus Christ,
who gave of his own self
that the world might know healing
from the fracture and brokenness which humanity creates.
Draw near O Healer, and bind up the wounds of those who hurt.
O Spirit of God give us a joy that outlasts our sorrows,
give us a hope stronger than despair,
call us to be glad for who we are
because you made us and meant us
to be your faithful people,
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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, Amen.
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.
J.L.Krebs Jesu, der du meine Seele