Beyond Trick Questions

Beyond Trick Questions


Rev. Erick Olsen is the Pastor of Church of Christ, Congregational (UCC), Norfolk

Scripture: John 18:33-37, NRSV

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?" Pilate replied, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here." Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."?

Reflection: Beyond Trick Questions

It’s difficult to hear another person’s truth when we already know what they should say before the conversation starts. Sadly, it seems these days that many exchanges across our culture serve truth poorly. This stems at least in part, I think, from our eagerness to be right rather than righteous. We often cannot listen to another child of God because we’re preoccupied with arming ourselves with the next trick question.

Pilate’s first words to Jesus in this text are more of an accusation than a question. Jesus offers a reply that should give us pause (even better in The Message): “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” The shift implies that Pilate is not really inquiring from a place of curiosity, but that he merely wants his conclusion affirmed.  

How often have I built my own certitudes about “them” based on scuttlebutt? How much better is it to seek out commonalities over coffee face-to-face? Jesus introduces Pilate and us to a different kingdom, a different way. Rather than a contentious society where we huddle in fear that someone will take our slice of pie, we are shown a place wherein Divine Love is available for all who are ready to receive it. Instead of a home defined by assumptions and rumors about “them,” we are invited to listen with ears to hear about the deepest truth of beauty and unity in all.


Just when we thought we had it all figured out, Lord, about just what “they” need, here you come with a heaping spoonful of “all are us” medicine. Open our mouths to receive what we need from you (rather than always shouting about fixes for others). Open our ears so that we might listen for your truth in another. Open our lives with the kind of mercy that shows how much we trust you. Amen.

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For healing and strength for the Rev. Chris Horvath, pastor of the First Church of Christ, Clinton, who has been hospitalized for an extended period.
  • For the family and friends of nearly 1000 missing people in California due to wildfires

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For those who work as Chaplains dedicating their work to the power of healing prayer
  • For the churches and groups who will provide meals for those in need this holiday week

Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:

Federated Church of Christ UCC
Congregational Church of Burlington
First Congregational Church of Canterbury, UCC
Canton Center
The First Congregational Church, Canton Center
Central Village
Central Village Congregational Church

This Week in History:
Nov. 22, 1963 (55 years ago): John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, is assassinated during a 10-mile motorcade through downtown Dallas. Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as the 36th president at 2:36pm while onboard Air Force One at Dallas Love Field airport.

Erick R. Olsen

pastor of the Church of Christ, Congregational, in Norfolk, CT

November 19, 2018
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