Online Devotion for the Fifth Sunday After Easter

St. Giles’ Cathedral

Online Devotion for the Fifth Sunday after Easter

Sunday May 17th 2020

This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Let us worship God.

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles, beginning in Chapter 17 at verse 22

Acts 17:22-31

22Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ 29Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

The Word of the Lord; thanks be to God.

Hymn

God, whose almighty word
chaos and darkness heard,
and took their flight;
hear us, we humbly pray,
and, where the gospel day
sheds not its glorious ray,
let there be light.

Saviour, who came to bring
on your redeeming wing
healing and sight,
health to the sick in mind,
sight to the inly blind,
now to all humankind
let there be light.

Spirit of truth and love,
life-giving, holy dove,
speed forth your flight;
move o’er the water’s face,
bearing the lamp of grace,
and in earth’s darkest place
let there be light.

Blessed and holy Three,
glorious Trinity,
Wisdom, Love, Might;
boundless as ocean’s tide
rolling in fullest pride,
through the earth far and wide
let there be light.

Text: John Marriott (1780-1825)
Music: Moscow
Melody by Felice de Giardini (1716-1796)

Reflection

As we continue to observe the government’s advice on staying home during this health crisis it has been interesting to note how our language has reflected the reality in which we live. We have adapted to use words like “strange times”, “unprecedented,” “lockdown” and acronyms like “PPE” (for Personal Protective Equipment.) Words that were known but rarely used, like “furlough” take on new and intense meaning in the light of our predicament.

When Paul preaches to the Athenians, in today’s reading from The Acts of the Apostles, he does something similar. He takes a form of words known to his audience, describing God as the one “in whom we live and move and have our being,” and “we too are his offspring,” and imbues them with new meaning in the light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

That act of God, “raising him from the dead” (v. 31) is the ‘paradigm shift,’ the ‘new normal’ which forms the heart of the Easter message.

Nicholas Wolterstoff, a philosopher from Yale, lost a son to a tragic climbing accident.  His son was 25 years old.  Later he wrote a book containing a collection of his thoughts on grief entitled ‘Lament for a Son.’  In that he reflects on the fact that when Jesus met Thomas, Jesus still had the wounds. Wolterstoff says “the wounds were Christ’s identity.”  He says, “To believe in Christ’s rising and death’s dying is also to live with the power and the challenge to rise up now from all our dark graves of suffering love.  If sympathy for the world’s wounds is not enlarged by our anguish, if love for those around us is not expanded, if gratitude for what is good does not flame up, if insight is not deepened, if commitment to what is important is not strengthened, if aching for a new day is not intensified, if hope is weakened and faith diminished, if from the experience of death comes nothing good, then death has won.  Death, be proud.  So I shall struggle to live the reality of Christ’s rising and death’s dying.”

Good words for our hurting world. Thanks be to God. Amen

Anthem

If ye love Me, keep My commandments.
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another
Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever, even
the Spirit of Truth. Amen

Text: St John 14, vvv 15 – 17
Music: Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585)

Prayer

Let us pray.

O God, the light of the minds that know you;
joy of the hearts that love you;
and strength of the wills that serve you;
help us so to know you that we may truly love you,
and so to love you that we may fully serve you,
whom to serve is perfect freedom.

Your world cries out for wisdom rooted in love for you our God.
Wisdom that seeks the good for your people – justice, health, peace.

May that wisdom truly be found in those places where power is wielded in ways which touch daily living in the world.

Give wisdom to the scientists and researchers;
strength and protection to those who are caring for the ill.

In the church, the very body of Christ,
may wisdom be present,
that superstition and religiosity might disappear
and be replaced by generosity, inclusion and love.
Always by love.

And in each of our lives we pray for daily wisdom, to focus our lives in serving you in all that we do and are; in trusting that even in the darkest of times we face, you are present, for the darkness is as light to you.

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 Voluntary
J.S.Bach Concerto in G BWV 592 (1st movement)

CCL Licence No 980930

Streaming Licence 57837
The service was conducted by Rev Calum I MacLeod
The lesson was read by Susanne Horsburgh
The hymn and anthem were recorded by members of the Choir of St Giles’ Cathedral, with Michael Harris, organ, remotely in lockdown May 2020.