John 20: 19-23 (NRSV)
Verse 19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Verse 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Verse 21Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." Verse 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Verse 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
Receiving the Holy Spirit implies letting go of an old reality in order to receive a new one. The action of Jesus’ breathing on those gathered disciples enlightens and empowers them. Through Jesus and the breath of the Spirit, God infused the power the disciples would need to engage in ministry. Like those disciples, apart from the Holy Spirit we cannot do anything.
Our congregation had been asked to house displaced neighbors. The congregation mobilized immediately, stepping up to care for whoever, whenever they would arrive. Regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, politics, spirituality, etc., room was made for everyone. It seemed like a “Pentecost moment!” John’s Gospel articulates this version of the “Great Commission.” Let us celebrate this call to embody Christ’s mission through our actions and with our words, but (as the saying goes) without being jerks about it.
We have found forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ. Help us always to lean on the Holy Spirit’s power as we yearn to be your hands and voice wherever there is hurt, anxiety, or uncertainty. Amen.