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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, May 12, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 10:2230

At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (NRSV)

Reflection
Surely Jesus was frustrated, if not angry, that some were still demanding that he tell them plainly that he was the Messiah. He responded to their request saying he had already told them and showed them. The works he had done testified to his Father’s name. But they did not believe. It wouldn’t make any difference if he said or did something more. Their minds—and hearts—were already made up, closed. If they had trusted in Jesus Christ, they would have followed him as their Messiah, just as sheep recognize the voice of their master and follow. Because of their disbelief, they were looking for grounds to reject and trap him.

When have you reacted to another person with an implicit bias or prejudice based just on their appearance? Or formed an opinion about, or carried a wound from, another person from one experience that determined, from then on, that you were closed to whatever they said or did? Unless we recognize the assumptions and prejudices we carry, and then intentionally set them aside, we will not see or connect with people fully as who they truly are. Unless we are willing to seek healing for how we have hurt or been hurt by another, we are likely to distance ourselves, to “other” them, diminish, and reject them.

In her book The Origin of Others, Toni Morrison says, “The necessity of rendering the slave a foreign species appears to be a desperate attempt to confirm one’s own self as normal.” Examine your own heart and life. Whom are you “other-ing”?

Prayer
Gracious God, I want to become my true self as made in your image. When I feel threatened because my cherished identity or worldview is challenged, keep me from closing down and closing off others. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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