The Holy Spirit is ever present.
The Spirit walks on either side of us, supports us from behind, lightens our load underneath, and blazes the journey ahead.
This week, remember the presence of God’s Spirit as we celebrate Pentecost — the birthday of the Church.
It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.”
At the conclusion of every worship service at the church where I serve, the pastor extends this invitation: “The peace of Christ be with you!” And our response is: “And also with you!” These words of welcome are more than a friendly greeting. They are the affirmation of the constant presence of God’s Spirit in my life, your life, and our faith communities.
John writes that the disciples were in hiding in fear from the Jewish authorities and possible persecution. Yet Jesus appears to offer them peace and anoints them with the Holy Spirit. The peace Jesus shares with the disciples is not merely the peace of harmony or agreement. It is rather an invitation to share in the ministry and mission of Jesus and his call of reconciliation, welcoming the stranger and including the outcast, and justice for those oppressed.
Living out the radical vision of God’s kingdom cannot be done in our own power. You and I must be willing to be breathed on… and “receive the Holy Spirit.”
God of Wind and Spirit, continue to encourage me not to live in a spirit of fear but with the fresh breath and anointing of your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Holy Spirit, living breath of God,
Breathe new life into my willing soul.
Give me passion for your purity;
Holy Spirit, breathe new life in me.
from “Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God” by Getty and Townend, 2005