The First 15

Friday April 2, 2021

by Sharon Reid

Introduction

Today is April 2nd, our thirty-ninth day in our journey through the season of Lent.

During this 40 day season we are going to be doing two things. First, each day we will be reflecting on a portion of the Nicene Creed – one of the historic statements written by the early church identifying the essential beliefs of the Christian Faith.

We will also be reading the Gospel of John together in a unique way over the course of these 40 days. In order to read the entirety of John, our scripture readings will be longer than normal. More importantly, rather than our pastors writing a reflection or providing additional commentary, at the end of your reading, we want to invite you to ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you in the words of the scriptures that we share.

We want the words of John’s Gospel to be the sole focus of these minutes you invest each day.

We know that for some this may sound intimidating, You may be thinking, “what if I do this wrong?” “What if I don’t hear anything?” This may be a new practice for some so here are a few words of encouragement.

• First, the less you “work” to do this right, the more meaningful this time will be. Being still and ready to listen are the most important things you can do. Embrace this as an act of faith, a daily opportunity to submit yourself to Christ’s leading in your life trusting that Christ wants to give you life.

• Secondly, recognize that there will be days that you may not hear anything. The Spirit may speak to you later that day or at an entirely different time altogether. This discipline is about placing our lives before the scriptures and trusting that the Holy Spirit is alive and at work in our lives. Here is another way of thinking about it. Whatever you may hear or experience in your reading, none of this time will be a waste.

Opening Prayer

I want to invite you now to prepare your heart and mind for the reading of God’s word. As you do, allow this prayer to lead you into your time with God today.

Holy and loving God, open my heart and my mind to your word today. Jesus, I pause in these moments to be still and listen to you. Holy Spirit, speak a word of life into my life this day. Amen.

Nicene Creed

We continue our focus on the Nicene Creed with these words today,

I believe the dead will be resurrected.

We hear these words from 1 Thessalonians 4:16

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Scripture Reading

We open our hearts and minds now for our reading today from John’s Gospel, chapter 20, verses 11-31.

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

We believe this is the word of God for the people of God. We say, “thanks be to God.”

I now want to invite you to ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you today through the reading and hearing of this word.

Closing Prayer

As we now prepare to take this time of reading and reflecting into the day ahead, we once again surrender ourselves to Christ in the sharing of this prayer.

Father, help me, use me, send me. Help me to carry these words into this new day, that I may be who you are calling me to be, knowing that I am never alone on this journey. Amen.

The First 15

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