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.
 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