19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Intro: Today’s reading from the Bible tells the story of a bunch of losers hiding in a room: these were the disciples who had run away and left Jesus alone to face torture and death. These were Jesus best friends – and they had failed him… They knew what was right – but failed to do it.
Now here is the amazing thing: Despite their failure: Jesus comes to find them. And he tells them that God still has faith in them, and that they can continue to be his disciples: 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
They were not disciples because they had managed to earn a special place – clearly they had failed – they were disciples because Jesus loved them.
Here is the Good News for today: Just like those disciples - We are not left alone. Today’s Bible reading reminds us that God understands our failures and that even when we fail, God does not give up on us….
Brennan Manning is a Christian author who has thought deeply about the unconditional love of God: he writes that our Christian Faith “is not derived from the power of positive thinking, mind games, or pop psychology. It is an act of faith in the grace of God.”
Instead of condemning his disciples, Jesus said to them – I will give you strength to get back on your feet. Jesus looks at his broken, failed disciples and these are the words he says to them:
.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
Following Jesus offers us a different way of understanding our lives. We do not earn God’s love by trying to become better people / or gritting our teeth and attempting to improve ourselves We are not blessed by God only when we never make mistakes. Success as a Christian is not a case of faking it until we make it. Our Scripture passage speaks of a God who does not give up on us - even when we fail.
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For me this is such a relief. I speak out of my own personal experience – I know the kind of person that I should be. I would like to be someone who is kind and loving and brave – and just when I think that I have it all together - I fail to be that person:
• I make mistakes
• I say words that I instantly wish that I could take back
• I get irritated and impatient
I think of a moment when I said something that hurt a friend of mine – and I realized that I had just damaged the friendship – and failed to be the person that I want to be. I also know that I am not alone in this:
St Paul complained about this: Romans 7: 19…. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
I recently saw a quote on a coffee mug: “Be the person your dog thinks you are”…and sometimes it is only our dog who could love us…
And I am going to assume that you know what it is to fail – and to be disappointed in yourself.
Allow me to repeat the Good News for today: God does not give up on us: Like with those disciples in the upper room: he comes to us and breathes on us and blesses us with strength to get up and live another day.
Here is the invitation: to wake up each morning – say these words: “O God: today is your day – use me”.
At this moment - No matter how imperfect you might feel - it is no longer about you: it is about surrendering your day to God….and being curious about what God will do with it. Ours is a faith that speaks of surrender: we surrender our struggling spirits to God – and allow the Spirit of God to use us…. Allow the Spirit of God to guide our living and speaking. Be open to surrendering our frail, broken spirits to the Spirit of God – and letting God live through us.
Today is Pentecost Sunday We are reminded that God’s Holy Spirit can touch our lives:
Every time we share in the Sacrament of Holy Communion – the Spirit of God is particularly available – come today as an act of faith – ask God to touch you.
“That They May be One”