Today is March 30th, our thirty-sixth 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 the Universal Church.
We hear these words from Ephesians 4:4
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called.
We open our hearts and minds now for our reading today from John’s Gospel, chapter 18, verse 28 through chapter 19, verse 16.
28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”
30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”
31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
“But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.
33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”
40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.
4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”
6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”
But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”
7 The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.
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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