Today is March 29th, our thirty-fifth 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.
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.
We continue our focus on the Nicene Creed with these words today,
I believe in one, holy Church.
We hear these words from John 17:20–21
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
We open our hearts and minds now for our reading today from John’s Gospel, chapter 18, verses 1-27.
When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.
2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”[a]
10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.
Peter’s First Denial
15 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.
17 “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.
He replied, “I am not.”
18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.
The High Priest Questions Jesus
19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Peter’s Second and Third Denials
25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”
He denied it, saying, “I am not.”
26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
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.
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.
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