St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 9th December 2021
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
Isaiah 40: 1-11
1Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.
3A voice cries out:
‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’
6A voice says, ‘Cry out!’
And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’
All people are grass,
their constancy is like the flower of the field.
7The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.
8The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand for ever.
9Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
‘Here is your God!’
10See, the Lord GOD comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
11He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead the mother sheep.
One of the things I look forward to with the onset of Advent is a little gem of a book on my shelf called “Watch for the Light.” It is a simple collection of readings from an eclectic variety of writers on Christian spirituality, one for each day of the seasons of Advent and Christmas. It has become something of an Advent discipline for me to engage in a daily reading from the book and each Advent I find new insights about what it means to mark this season of watching and waiting, of expectation and hope.
In the book is a line from the 20th century writer on Christian spirituality, Henri Nouwen. “Waiting is not a very popular attitude.” Yet it is exactly that discipline of waiting that we arelled to in Advent. The prophet Isaiah in our reading today would understand that. In the soaring poetry of chapter 40 lies the hope and promise that God will not abandon God’s people, “Comfort, O comfort my people,” but will come to them like a loving shepherd, “he will carry the lambs in his arms.”
It is that love, fully present in the baby of Bethlehem, the Word made flesh, that our patient expectation looks toward in this season. May the blessings of patient waiting be known to us this Advent until we gladly carol the newborn as “Love comes down at Christmas.”
Come, Thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free.
(from the Advent hymn by Charles Wesley)
Let us pray
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:
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 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.
Nicolas de Grigny Duo (Ave Maris Stella)