Today is April 1, our thirty-eighth 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 baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We hear these words from Acts 2:38
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We open our hearts and minds now for our reading today from John’s Gospel, chapter 19, verse 38 through chapter 20, verse 10.
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.[a] 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
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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