Prayer of focus
Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: She abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen
Pentecost … the day in which God breathes life into humanity.
Our scripture readings from Acts 2:1-21 and John 20:19-23 bring us the story of God and God breathing life into a troubled and lost world. I ask you to consider the creative power of God the Holy Spirit. This is a Sunday when the Scripture texts are so familiar that we immediately jump to our own conclusions. For me this year though I am struck by the following.
In Acts the disciples are gathered together, however, the gathering is larger than the twelve (eleven without Judas) whom I think we would normally put in the room at the time the Spirit is given. Before we get to this place in the history of the church it is noted that in chapter one Jesus has ascended into heaven. Prior to his ascension he tells the disciples “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” (Acts 1:8). Following this we have prayer and the choice of Matthias to replace Judas. The Holy Spirit has been at work already without the presence of Jesus. The disciples are experiencing a fundamental change in their lives.
Acts 2 records the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus to his disciples in Acts 1:8. Change is taking place. Life has and will be breathed into the world through the followers of Jesus Christ. Ponder that for a moment. Not only then in the first century but, today as well life is breathed into the world through the followers of Jesus Christ as they have received the Holy Spirit. Humanity is defined again by the Holy Spirit.
We first seek the definition of humanity and the gift of life in Genesis 2:7. What does it mean for life to be breathed into the followers of Jesus Christ? To be filled with the Holy Spirit?
A part of this answer to think about is found in our reading from John 20:19-23. Behind the locked doors of survival. Behind the locked doors of fear we find “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Contemplate this … reception of the Holy Spirit is reception to forgive and retain sins, how does the reception of the Holy Spirit change your life?