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Lenten Devotions

Lenten devotion 2015

April 1, 2015 

Daily Scripture Readings for Lent 2015 

These daily readings are adapted from The Book of Common Prayer, Daily Readings for Lent Year One.

John 13:21-33

Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking.” John 13:21

The Confession of Sin in our service of worship is both revered and despised. Yes. That’s true. Some of you love it and come out of worship declaring it spoke directly to you. Some resent having to say the very same words because you never did any of those things and why would you want to confess it? You feel very deeply about the Confession of Sin. Years ago, following worship, a young man said to me, “Why do we include the Prayer of Confession at all?! It’s so pejorative!” I confess going to my office afterwards and looking up pejorative because it’s not a word I often use. (btw – disparaging, derogatory, with belittling effect.)

The Service of Worship states, “Before God’s majesty and holiness we become painfully aware of our selfishness and disobedience. We repent of our sin and ask God’s forgiveness. Only through the assurance of God’s prior mercy given freely, dare we make our humble confession to God.” Our confession comes not only out of our awareness of our brokenness, we confess because in God’s presence we become aware of our great need and Jesus’s loving mercy. Confession is a gift, not a punishment.

We move more deeply into Holy Week with John 13, typically remembered as the chapter where Jesus  washes the feet of the disciples: Master becomes servant, Go and do likewise. But this is also the painful point at which Jesus acknowledges that the time for His sacrifice and the timing has everything to do with Judas’ betrayal.

“One of you will betray me,”  Jesus says at the table. This time I noticed the rest of the disciples. They don’t immediately assume Judas is the guilty one. It could have been ANY of them. Does anyone else find that curious? They all look around the table at one another, “Is it me? Is it you?” (v. 13:24) They each know what they are capable of – betrayal, fear, disregard, laziness. Not one of them is without fault here and they know it, and they will find their own weakness out in the hours and days to come. Peter leans over the disciple between himself and Jesus and whispers, “You do it….Ask him who he’s talking about….” Jesus answers and while his answer remains cryptic for the other disciples, Judas knows and his eyes meet with Jesus. He rises from the table (I imagine somewhat slowly) and he leaves.

As I read this story again, I find that I have a sadness for Judas.

what wondrous love is this

What Wondrous Love Is This? (Chelsea Moon with the Franz Brothers)

He agreed to something that went against love and he got in too deep. The other disciples still don’t get what Judas had done, or why he left, or where he was  going. That’s hard for us to fathom because his actions seem so clear. The silent conversation and understanding about what is to happen is between Judas and Jesus alone. Perhaps that is where our own confession must start. Looking into the eyes of Jesus.

Helen DeBevoise

poem – The Sin of Omission by Margaret Sangster