Daily Devotion for Sunday 23rd June 2024

Sunday, 23 June 2024 Psalm 36
Sin speaks to sinners
in the depths of their hearts.
There is no fear of God
before their eyes.

They so flatters themselves in their minds
that they know not their guilt.
In their mouths are mischief and deceit.
All wisdom is gone.

They plot the defeat of goodness
as they lie on the bed.
They have set out on evil ways,
they cling to what is evil.

Your love, Lord, reaches to heaven;
your truth to the skies.
Your justice is like God’s mountain,
your judgments like the deep.
To both people and beast you give protection.

O Lord, how precious is your love.
My God, humanity
finds refuge in the shelter of your wings.

They feast on the riches of your house;
they drink from the stream of your delight.
In you is the source of life
and in your light we see light.

Keep on loving those who know you,
doing justice for upright hearts.
Let the foot of the proud not crush me
nor the hand of the wicked cast me out.

See how the evildoers fall!
Flung down, they shall never arise.

Reflection
 

A few hundred yards from Saughtonhall URC in Edinburgh stands a monument to author Robert Louis Stevenson. The statue depicts Davie Balfour and Alan Breck Stewart, characters from Stevenson’s Kidnapped, who parted ways in the novella near the spot.

The statue is one of many waymarks that line the road between Edinburgh and Glasgow, including the old milestones our ancestors passed as they travelled between Scotland’s capital and its largest city, forming our Congregational churches during the religious revival of the late-18th and early-19th centuries.

Such waymarks from history are useful anchors during times of change. As most congregations shrink, we must learn lessons from the past and remind ourselves of the need to turn our attention outward to our communities, focusing on partnerships and growth.

Writing in A History of Scottish Congregationalism, Harry Escott quotes Carlyle Murphy, the Congregational Union of Scotland’s secretary: “The young have been slipping away out of the church’s orbit…We have made the Church so cheap, we have made it so low in the estimation of the outsider, that many who are turning from the materialist view of life, and groping towards a spiritual view, will not turn to the Church for guidance and help.”

Striking words: not from 2022, not even from 2002, but from 1942!  I’m certain our fellow disciples hailing from Churches of Christ, English Presbyterian, and English and Welsh Congregationalist backgrounds could offer similar warnings from history about the need for churches to offer a spiritual alternative to materialism.

Psalm 36 today reminds us about the greatest waymark of all – God’s love. “O Lord, how precious is your love. My God, humanity finds refuge in the shelter of your wings.”

In his introduction to this week’s reflections, Stephen Dawson explains that former United Nations secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld believed waymarks were fixed points of understanding in life that he could not allow himself to lose. May God’s love be our first waymark as we journey through this week’s reflections.

Prayer

God of the journey,
Thank you for the waymarks from our history, 
four traditions brought together to love you and to love our neighbours.
Please help us to remember the important waymarks from our past, 
the wise words of fellow disciples that echo down through the years.
Please help us to discern your Holy Spirit guiding us through our waymarks – 
through the Bible, through our prayers, through our conversations – 
as we continue our journey with you.
In the name of Christ,
Amen.

Today’s writer

Peter Ranscombe is a member of Saughtonhall United Reformed Church in Edinburgh.

Copyright

The Psalms: The Grail Translation, Inclusive Language Version, Collins, 2009.

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