Image: Doug Mills/The New York Times

A broad spectrum of the drama that can be found in courtrooms seems to be on display this week as the confirmation hearings for the next justice to join the supreme court are underway.  Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has had to endure an intense exhibition of political posturing alongside scrutiny of her judicial record and guiding legal methodologies.  So much of what captures the public’s attention is mostly just theater that’s been orchestrated to gain sympathies for one side of the political divide or the other.

Fittingly, the texts we encounter over the coming two Sundays chronicle a legal spectacle with all the drama of a capital case.  Pontius Pilate, the Prelate of the Roman state, presides as judge while the religious authorities make their case.  God’s very self is left alone to defend against the power of the status quo and Jesus’ innocence is not enough to move the forces of empire or the misguided expectations of humanity.

There is, of course, divine purpose embedded within all of this drama and the question of, “who is manipulating who?” is not so easily answered.  “This was to fulfill what Jesus had said…” is John’s explanation of the story he tells (John 18:32).  But did God really know how Pilate or the Pharisees would respond?  There are plenty of moments that, had the coin landed differently, might have changed the story.  Though I think we can trust that the outcome would have been the same. 

Jesus’ death was certainly punishment, but for whom? This is the question I would encourage us to wrestle with in the days ahead.  As the other dramas of the world unfold around us, and the response of humanity so often leans towards death, give thanks that we have a God that always shows up on the side of life.

May God’s peace come to you this day.  -Pastor Peter

Let us pray…

“Fair and merciful God, You love the just and You will not forsake the faithful. Inspired and encouraged by Your love may we turn from our inclination to serve ourselves, to disadvantage others, and to do what is good in Your eyes and honorable in Your sight.
The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom and their tongues speak with equity. Lord of our lives, guard and guide our speech today that it would reflect Your goodness and uphold Your justice.
Then may our decisions align with Your law and our feet never step from Your path.
For our hope is in You. Even as the wicked lie in wait to pounce on the innocent, even as their intentions are set on destroying those who wish only to live in peace and security, You, O Lord, will not leave or forsake them.
Make firm the steps of those who delight in You, whose hearts are pure. Lift up those who stumble and uphold those who share generously Your gift of grace.
We offer our prayer in the strength of Your name.  Amen.”

Opening Prayer for the 117th Congress, delivered by Margaret Grun Kibben, Chaplain of the US House of Representatives, on March 18, 2022.