Daily Devotion for March 25, 2013
Feast of the Annunciation
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
If you dislike bagpipes — they only last a minute. This is worth waiting them out.
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.
T'was Grace that taught
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
the hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far
and Grace will lead us home.
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
as long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within in the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we've been here ten thousand years
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
then when we've first begun.
Lyrics by John Newton (1773)
Music origin unk.
Prayer for the Morning
Blessed are you, O Lord my God, King of the universe, who removes sleep from my eyes, that I may see the returning light of the your day. I thank you for all that you have done while I was asleep, watching over me and all your children while we slept unaware, and I pray that my thoughts and acts this day may show forth my love and thanks for you and all you have done for me.
Help me through your Holy Spirit, that I may remember what you have taught me in the Bible and it may show forth in my every deed. Let me not wander into the hands of sin, nor into the hands of pride or perversity, nor into the hands of temptation, nor into the hands of shame, but steer my inclinations towards goodness and charity this morning and all the day. In the name of Christ I pray.
Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
May the God of hope fill me and all of us with the joy and peace that comes from believing, so that we may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Luke 1:26-33 (ASV)
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came in unto her, and said, "Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee.
But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this might be.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
John 18:28-38 (NCV)
Jesus Is Questioned by Pontius Pilate 
Early in the morning they led Jesus from Caiaphas's house to the Roman governor's palace. They would not go inside the palace, because they did not want to make themselves unclean; they wanted to eat the Passover meal. So Pilate went outside to them and asked, "What charges do you bring against this man?"
They answered, "If he were not a criminal, we wouldn't have brought him to you."
Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law." "But we are not allowed to put anyone to death," the Jews answered. (This happened so that what Jesus said about how he would die would come true.)
Then Pilate went back inside the palace and called Jesus to him and asked, "Are you the king of the Jews?" Jesus said, "Is that your own question, or did others tell you about me?"
Pilate answered, "I am not one of you. It was your own people and their leading priests who handed you over to me. What have you done wrong?"
Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If it belonged to this world, my servants would have fought to keep me from being given over to the Jewish leaders. But my kingdom is from another place." Pilate said, "So you are a king!"
Jesus answered, "You are the one saying I am a king. This is why I was born and came into the world: to tell people the truth. And everyone who belongs to the truth listens to me."
Notes on the Scripture
(Note: The timing of our Scripture today is difficult because three very different passages are appropriate: we are reading Exodus, but it is the first day of Holy Week, and it is also the Feast of the Annunciation. We have chosen to focus on the events surrounding the crucifixion this week, but thought it fitting to at least give a few paragraphs from Luke 1, to acknowledge the celebration of the Annunciation.)
The Jews bring Jesus to be tried by Roman law, since they are politically ruled by a Roman governor. Their strategy is to show that Jesus is fomenting a political rebellion against Rome, a capital crime. But Jesus tell Pilate the truth — basically, he lets Pilate know that he has no desire to become what Pilate would call a "king", even though he calls heaven a "kingdom".
John's account of Jesus' trial is heavy with irony. The Jews, who are dragging the Son of God to be killed, do not want to make themselves "unclean" by entering a Roman household. Then, they want the Romans to execute Jesus for them, again, because they do not want to soil their hands with the sin of murder. They cannot kill Jesus because the high priests are supposed to be holy men, so with unmitigated hypocrisy, they arrest him and try to convince Pilate to convict and execute him under Roman law.
But Pilate is a clever and educated man with at least some shred of integrity. He recognizes Jesus' rhetorical skill, for Jesus runs him around in circles. And instead of infuriating him, Jesus' answers pique Pilate's curiosity.
Jesus will not confess to being a "king", because the meaning of "king", to Pilate, is a temporal political ruler. He does confess that He has a "kingdom" but contrasts His kingdom, which is neither political nor even one of this world, to the sort of kingdom that would present a threat to Rome.
Pilate is often depicted simplistically in the Passion story, but he is actually not the villain (although he is hardly a hero). He is a heathen and will not save Christ, but he is smart enough, and has enough integrity, not to be used as a tool by the Sanhedrin. He will ultimately understand what Jesus is saying and decide correctly that He is not guilty of breaking Roman law. Caiaphas' scheme to have Pilate do his dirty work for him will fail.