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Pentecost 2017

Pentecost 2017

John 20:19-23

Perplexing, Pentecostal God, you infuse us with your Spirit, urging us to vision and dream.  May the gift of your presence find voice in our lives, that our many voices

be transformed into discernment lighting an unquenchable fire of compassion and justice. Amen.

There is a promise to keep and Jesus means to fulfill that.  He promised his disciples he would see them again even though he will no longer be in the world.  The Gospel of John compacts everything that we assume should remain separate.  Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, Holy Spirit.  These are all part and parcel of the Gospel’s reconstruction  of the life and the ending of that life for Jesus.  The distance in this gospel between Easter and Pentecost is compressed for resurrection and the gift of the Holy Sprit in this writing is just a week.  And he is now here again with the disciples

but with such a gift they could not imagine.  It’s the gift of peace.  Not something promised by agencies of government, nor by some accord signed by world leaders.

It’s the peace only Jesus can give and it’s through his FIRST gift the Holy Spirit.

This gift of peace is offered with breath the ‘ruach’ of God’s creativity.  Such is the breath of the Genesis story of creation.  The gift of peace is offered with breath

the ‘pneuma’ of Jesus’ presence.  Such is the breath of the Spirit that only comes

after resurrection.  The Gospel of John was penned during the sporadic time of persecution about 30 years following the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 C.E.

The disciples of Jesus are all scattered to the four winds some to Egypt, some to Syria,

some to India, some to farther parts of the known world.  And this gospel is the gospel of promise of Jesus’ peace in such a time as that.  In such a time as this. Unpeace as Dame Julian of Norwich would write is the way of the world.  There has not been a time in this worlds’ history war has not existed.  Conflict is ever present to us and the promise of peace from Jesus is just as pertinent to us now as it was then.  But part of the peace is the offering of forgiveness.  Which is why forgiveness is spoken after the gift of the Holy Spirit.  We need that forgiveness today so very much.  Not just nation against nation, not just family against family, but person against person.  Forgiveness may be the most important spiritual gift and practice for us all, modeled after Jesus' own forgiving ministry.  Jesus taught, practiced, and embodied forgiveness throughout his life and on the cross as he died.  And now he offers the way to forgive as he breaths the Holy Spirit into the lives of the disciples, into our own lives. And his breath to them, to us, is a new second creation that sustains them, sustains us, in our life when all is

not at peace.  The act of forgiveness in this gospel reflects the authors concept of sin.

Not some moral transgression but a falling away from all that is God.  Sin is to be blind to the revelation of God found in Jesus, the Christ, the promised one.  And to forgive that falling away, to forgive that blindness, is the mission of the community.  Each of the gospel writers penned to their own community of followers.  What we have today is a letter, a perception of one particular persons’ reflections on the life and the ministry of Jesus.  Which will always include forgiveness.  And that kind of living will tie the community to Jesus in an amazing, inseparable way that leads to deeper understanding

of how to truly live.  The mark of being filled with that  Spirit is the forgiveness of sin not just from an authority such a priest or a bishop but from Jesus himself.  And because of his gift we can offer that forgiveness that Spirit to each other and to those who need it from us.  All we need do is look around us to find people in need of forgiveness, in need of healing, in need of the Spirit.

Such is the story of a young woman by the name of Stormie.  Molested, scarred by family hatred and emotional abuse, this young woman sought to find peace in a culture of drugs and Satanic ritual.  When none of that gave her peace she sought it coming to the edge of suicide.  Someone told her again and again of the love of Jesus that brought her out of her suicidal ideations into a longing for peace she had never known.

And forgiveness was given and forgiveness was offered.  None of this happens overnight.  We all have the scars of someone hurting us deeply yet there is the potential in all of us who claim to love Jesus to offer forgiveness and to receive it in kind.

This is the gift of Pentecost the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.