St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
Midweek Devotion 9th September 2021
Led by Rev Calum I MacLeod
The Psalmist says: O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Psalm 8: 1
Let us worship God
The lesson is written in Matthew’s gospel in the 9th chapter
While Jesus was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, ‘My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.’ And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.’ Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well. When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute-players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, ‘Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And the report of this spread throughout that district.
The 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001 bring images to mind of unspeakable horror, tragedy and death resulting from, in the Bard’s words, “man’s inhumanity to man.” It also reminds us of the fortitude and courage of those who responded to the attacks and sought to save lives in the midst of those desperate events.
I am always touched by the courage displayed by the protagonists in this text from Matthew’s gospel. The leader of the synagogue, perhaps in utter desperation at the loss of his daughter, approaches the controversial figure, Jesus, knowing that he has a bad reputation among the religious authorities. The man may even be putting his leadership position in the synagogue at risk by these actions, yet for his daughter’s sake he steps forward.
As for the woman who stretches out to touch Jesus and receive healing for her broken body, she is one of my favorite characters in the gospels. Unnamed, blighted by a wretched physical ailment, we imagine her as cowed and exhausted and weak but she proves to be smart and strong, fighting her way through the crowd to get close to Jesus. So close that she can reach out and, rather cheekily I think, touch his clothing, sure and steadfast in her belief that in doing so’ “I will be made well.” And she is!
Courage may seem like a rather ‘Victorian’ virtue yet as we see from these exemplars of faith it is an important aspect of the life of following Jesus Christ.
Courage, brother (and sister) do not stumble,
though your path be dark as night;
there’s a star to guide the humble;
trust in God and do the right. Amen
From the hymn text by Norman Macleod (1812 – 1872)
Your world cries out for peace and for your kingdom to come;
your kingdom of goodness and wholeness and equality.
We pray for our nation and for the Queen, grant to her and those who govern in her name,
compassion and wisdom in ordering the life of our country.
For our world, finding itself in turmoil as the virus continues to spread
may God give health and peace.
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, 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,
Go in peace and 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.
Johannes Brahms O Gott, du frommer Gott