PASTOR’S CORNER: Brad Bennett, First United Methodist Church, Liberal
“Jesus showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” Then Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven” (John 20:20-23).
How long can people go without drinking water? About three days. Without eating? 10 days to 3 weeks. Without air? Not long, so don’t hold your breath - up to 3 minutes.
Jesus visited his disciples after the resurrection, and “he breathed on them” (John 20:22), since he knew that the disciples, who were gasping and as good as dead, needed air. Like the water, food and air all people need, Jesus was giving to everyone who follows Christ in faith the power to forgive other people who do harm.
Molly was upset with her teenage son, Jack, who had done something that deeply hurt her. In fact, what Jack had done cut her to the core. She wept and, then, she waited. Only God knew where God was in this moment. Molly was unable to tell Jack in-person about the peace that was coming back to her after their quarrel. As she prayed, her strength returned and grew, and she had a vision. She saw Jack's room filled with balloons that she would and did blow up. Balloons from floor to ceiling, spilling out around the sign across his door that said, "Welcome Home!”
Molly prepared that place out of the inspiration and the abundance of new life and hope that Jesus’ sacred Spirit had poured into her. And when the room was ready, Jack came. From that welcoming space they began again, but so much stronger and wiser. With forgiveness and the amazing generosity of Spirit comes tremendous loving-kindness and unspeakable joy.
Several times in my life I’ve been worn out from overworking, pushing the late nights and early mornings, perhaps snarking and barking at people too much. I wouldn’t say I was gasping for air . . . yet! That’s me - I can’t speak for you, but have you ever become that way? We all need the power and capacity of the sacred Spirit in Jesus to help us to do good in this world.
I’m also blessed to make time to breathe in Jesus’ Spirit. Yes! Receiving time:
• working outside the walls and away from the office.
• feeding and watching and listening to the birds near our parsonage home.
• singing songs with amazing people who live in our nursing care centers.
• reflecting and meditating on Scriptures, all of which have fed and watered me.
• to get well with my soul. Swoosh!
How about you? How’s your exhale onto others lately? How long has it been since you shared Jesus’ breath of peace with people who are feeling a hopelessness in our world today?
How has your receiving and breathing in the breath of Christ been going lately? Have you been mostly on the inhale or the exhale side of the breath rainbow?
Please join me in a prayer for reflection: Okay, time for a breather! Take time to receive and breathe this same Spirit right now wherever you are: take in a nice, big, deep inhale and hold it briefly (wait for it) . . . and now, slowly, blow the breath away, exhale. Swoosh! Go with this peace of Christ’s Spirit with forgiving love for all. Amen!