St. Giles’ Cathedral
Sunday July 12th 2020
5th Sunday after Trinity
The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand for ever.
Isaiah 40: 8
Let us worship God.
The lesson is written in the Book of the prophet Isaiah in the 55th chapter.
Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
10For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. 12For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
The word of the Lord: thanks be to God
Come down, O Love divine,
seek thou this soul of mine,
and visit it with thine own ardour glowing;
O comforter, draw near,
within my heart appear,
and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.
O let it freely burn,
till earthly passions turn
to dust and ashes, in its heat consuming;
and let thy glorious light
shine ever on my sight,
and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.
Let holy charity
mine outward vesture be,
and lowliness become mine inner clothing;
true lowliness of heart,
which takes the humbler part,
and o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.
And so the yearning strong,
with which the soul will long,
shall far outpass the power of human telling;
for none can guess its grace,
till he become the place
wherein the Holy Spirit makes his dwelling.
Text: Bianco da Siena d.1434
Tr. Richard Littledale 1833-1890
Music: Down Ampney
R.Vaughan Williams 1872-1958
“Everyone who thirsts, come to the water.”
The speaker of these words of hope is none other than God. This oracle of hope is spoken to the historic Israelite elites who are in exile in Babylon after the destruction of Jerusalem by the machinations of a hostile empire.
They desperately want to return to the lives their ancestors had in what we now call “The Land of the Holy,” the home of their foremothers and forefathers.
We find ourselves exiles today – exiles from our usual rhythms of life; yearning for the way things were before this pandemic disrupted how we formally carried out our daily living; torn from the daily and weekly interactions with our fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, friends and relatives; abnormally excised from the ‘normal’ that we eagerly seek to get back to where life is not ‘socially distanced’ and a handshake or a hug is not deemed dangerous.
To the people in exile God offers an option of the generous self-giving of the God of covenant. This God has in times past given Israel manna-bread and water in the wilderness, and will now generously give all that is needed for life…free water, free milk, and free wine, all gifts of God. But reception of these free gifts in faith requires his listeners to choose against what Walter Brueggemann calls “the quid-pro-quo economy” of Babylon. In that imperial economy of demand-production, these deported Jews had to do work that was not satisfying; they had to buy consumer goods that had no sustaining value. The quid-pro-quo of production (“labor for that which does not satisfy”) and consumption (“that which is not bread”) is in fact a dead-end project that only results in fatigue, disappointment, and despair. The summons of the poem is that, because of the living God, an alternative way is possible. That alternative way is a homecoming that will be enacted because of God’s fidelity to the covenant with David.
God’s promise of water symbolizes this fidelity. Then in a metaphorical transition the ‘water’ of God’s promise is likened to the accomplishment of God’s word.
As baptized followers of Jesus, we believe that the waters of creation, the waters of justice, the waters of peace and the waters of equality are gifts from God for all of God’s people. They flow from the heart of God. And they flow from the foot of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
For thou art with me; thy rod and staff they comfort me.
Text: Psalm 23 1-4
Music: Lennox Berkeley 1903-1989
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:
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.
Dieterich Buxtehude Praeludium in D
CCL Licence No 980930
Streaming Licence 57837
The service was conducted by Rev Calum I MacLeod
The lesson was read by Marjory Lobban
The hymn was recorded in 2001 by The Choir of St Giles’ Cathedral Peter Backhouse, Assistant Organist, Michael Harris, Organist and Master of the Music
The anthem was recorded in 2010 by the Choir of St Giles’ Cathedral, Caroline Hood, solo soprano, Peter Backhouse, Assistant Organist, Michael Harris, Organist and Master of the Music