Tag Archive | John 14:27

Receive the Holy Spirit

Easter is over, but Jesus has not yet ascended to be with God. But the disciples know that He will be leaving them soon; He had told them that and they were afraid. He had been their teacher and guide; now he would not be there to tell them what to do.

And just as happened after the crucifixion, the disciples were locked inside a room, afraid of the Jews and even their own shadows. But we hear in the gospel of John:

When 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.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:19-22)

First, Jesus reassured the disciples saying:

“Peace be with you” (John 20:19)

He wanted them to know that everything was going to be alright; they were to go about teaching, preaching, and healing as He had taught them. We know from other passages in the Bible, that the disciples were not sure they could do what He has instructed them to do (Matthew 17:16-19). They did not believe they had the power. Then He blew on them and gave them, and us, the greatest gift of all: the Holy Spirit.

But what is the ‘Holy Spirit’? The Holy Spirit is, an energy, a power, that little voice we sometimes hear in our head when we are troubled or questioning what we should be doing. It has to be experienced, acknowledged, and kindled from within us like a holy fire. It is a guiding light, leading us in the way we should go to follow the teachings of Jesus. It is a spiritual light – not one we can actually see, but one that lives within us. . . we can feel it, but not see it. Saint Paul tells us

that God’s Holy Spirit is a mark of God’s ownership of us.” (Ephesians 4:30)

Each one of us belong to God; we are one of His beloved children. And to help us through life, through Jesus, we have received the ‘Holy Spirit’.

We experience the Holy Spirit at various times in our lives – often when we are troubled or depressed or at the lowest points in our lives. It is the Holy Spirit that comes and shows us what is real, not what we suppose or imagine, but what is ‘real’ in the situation we are in. The Holy Spirit is very important because it comforts and guides us so we can get through dark nights of doubt and despair. Although we may not identify it, the Holy Spirit comes into the lives of each one of us. Jesus promised he would send up an advocate, and the Holy Spirit is that reassuring force.

The Holy Spirit is there to remind us that God has told us He will never desert us. In the depths of the darkness or despair, never doubt or forget that. Remember that the resurrection of Jesus is real; Jesus said He would

go and prepare a place for each of us” (John 14:2-3)

and He has. When our time comes, we will join Jesus in eternal life.

If we just listen, we can be led by the Holy Spirit to do the things God has planned for us. It can be a guide, a counselor, advising us how to follow Jesus. Jesus promised us that the Holy Spirit will comfort us when we’re hurting, saying.

I will not leave you as orphans,” (John 14:18),

promising that the

the Spirit will bring us peace” (John 14:27).

But the Holy Spirit can’t do all the work for us. We are still responsible for doing our part—asking the Holy Spirit to show us the truth and teach us how to live. All we have to do is let the Holy Spirit enter our lives. Just listen to that small voice to follow the teachings of Jesus and have eternal life.

Let us pray:

Spirit of the Mighty, Gentle One, come upon me, anoint me.

I see the oppressed. I name them; I hold them close. Make my life into good news for them.

I see the brokenhearted. I name them; I hold them close. Give me gentle grace to bind up their hearts.

I see the imprisoned. I name them; I hold them close. Give me true words and deeds to release them.

I see the ruined cities. I name them; I hold them close. Make me a part of their building up.

Spirit of God, be upon me. I see my own ruins, my chains. Hold me close and set me free, that I may be your good news for others.[1]

[1]      Pastor Steve Garnaas-Holmes, ‘Spirit, be upon me’, Unfolding Light

Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH; 4 June 2017

Do Not Be Afraid

Luke 3:7-18

We just survived the Thanksgiving holiday – cornucopias, fall harvests, turkey and pumpkin pie, corn stalks, and scarecrows — symbols associated with the holiday we celebrated only seventeen days (and 17 pounds on my
hips!) ago. Even before Halloween and Thanksgiving ended, holiday colors had changed. Orange pumpkin lights were replaced by white or multi-colored twinkling lights.

And now we are rapidly moving to Christmas Eve and the birth of the Christ Child. Frosties begin to adorn yards and rooftops. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’ inflatable green body, topped with a red Santa hat, sits a few feet away from a lighted, plastic Nativity scene. Halloween candies have been removed from the shelves, replaced by candy canes and red and green wrapped Hershey kisses.

We hear “Happy Holidays!”, and Christmas carols assault our ears everywhere we go.

These four weeks of Advent prior to Christmas Eve are supposed to be a time of reflection and anticipation – waiting for the arrival of that small baby who would save the entire world as an adult. We should have ‘dreams of sugar plums in our heads’ and humming Christmas carols as we move through the days until Christmas.

But in recent weeks, unbelievable acts of violence have become normal. From Paris and Syria to Colorado and California, our nightly news centers on the daily terrorism which has raised our fears. Gun violence has led most of us to wonder aloud whether anything can be done, or if the all world had gone nuts. We have had more mass murders (4,052 as of last week) than we have had days in this year. There are political candidates who want to either stop people from entering the country, branding those who are not ‘Christian’ with numbers, or exporting
anyone who does not look and think like them. We hear from some conservative Evangelicals that the end of the world is not far away.

Instead of anticipation of Christmas Eve, we are shocked and immobilized by the extreme violence and cruelty that we are hearing about every day.

Advent is supposed to be a time of hope – hope for a better world. . . for peace, for justice and for loving one another. And we are halfway through the Advent Season; we should be waiting with anticipation for Christmas – the renewal of the hope for the world.

During this upcoming Christmas season, we had expected to enjoy times with families and friends and festivities and joy. But those expectations have been shattered this year. We could throw our hands up in despair; we could lament over a shattered world. We could grieve what we are losing, the dreams that have been shattered.

Or we could pray fervently for courage and hope.

In Luke 3:7-18, John the Baptist warns those he had just baptized that they were going to face adversity – things were not going to be ‘a bed of roses’. So what might John the Baptist say to us today in the wake of the refugee crisis in Syria, the attacks in Paris and Beirut, mass shootings in Colorado and California, and the daily violence that fills our lives?

John the Baptist does offer us a ray of hope. He had some sound advice for the people of that day and for us too. He did not feel the need to be politically correct; he named the sins of racism and sexism and fear of ‘the other’. And he blamed those responsible for these sins.

But he also said:

    “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:16)

And with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, God promised us:

    “Never, Never, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

And Jesus, when he sent the disciples out into the world told them, and us:

    “You can be sure that I will be with you always. I will continue with you until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)

So no matter what is going on in the world, no matter how discouraged we may feel, no matter how we are sure the world has forever been changed by the violence and injustice around us, we can be reassured that:

    “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me..” (John 14:1)

We are always in God’s presence and hands, loved as children of God:

    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

Let us pray:

Compassionate God and Father of us all, we are horrified at violence in so many parts of the world. It seems that none are safe, and some are terrified. Hold back the hands that kill and maim, turn around the hearts that hate. Grant instead your strong Spirit of Peace – the peace that passes our understanding but changes lives. Amen.
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH; 13 December 2015