2nd Sunday of Easter
April 24, 2022
“Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘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.’”
The setting of this passage is very much like the setting of Pentecost. The disciples are all huddled together in a room because they are in shock. At Pentecost, the they receive the Holy Spirit by means of fire. Here they receive the Holy Spirit from Jesus himself by means of breath.
There are four primal elements: earth, air, fire and water. Each of these elements is associated with key moments in the life of Jesus. He was baptized with water by John at the beginning of his earthly ministry. Earthquakes were reported at his death and resurrection. In today’s Gospel, after his resurrection, Jesus breathes on the disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Thus the Holy Spirit is associated here with air, and at Pentecost, just a few weeks later, with fire. Earth, air, fire and water.
The Book of Genesis begins with the Spirit of God moving over the water. As God breathed life into the watery creation at the beginning, as God formed Adam from earth and breathed life into him, so Jesus breathed life into the disciples at the beginning of the church and blessed them shortly thereafter with the fire of the Holy Spirit.
John’s Gospel begins with the famous words:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” – John 1:1-2.
Indeed, the very Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, was with God and was moving upon the water in the beginning.
Moving, breathing, thinking, creating, speaking – all are related. As you move around this spring, in these joyful days after Easter, notice your breath. Noticing and deepening the breath is the easiest way to make each moment of life a little sweeter. When out walking, when driving, when standing in line, when sitting – notice how you are breathing. Take a deep breath.
Think of the breath of God moving upon the waters.
Think of God breathing life into the first human.
Think of Jesus breathing on the disciples to give them the Holy Spirit.
With every breath we take, we receive the Holy Spirit.
Through that Holy Spirit we are connected to Jesus and the disciples, to God, and to one another. We are not alone.
What is the essence of Christianity, the essence of all religion? We are not alone. That is the Good News. When we are not alone, when we are with others, when life is good it is even better and when life is difficult it’s not so difficult.
Breathe. And be grateful.
Have breath and life in the name of Jesus Christ; the very breath, spirit and Word of God.
– Psalm 118:14-29
14 The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.
15 There is a sound of exultation and victory
in the tents of the righteous:
16 “The right hand of the Lord has triumphed!
the right hand of the Lord is exalted!
the right hand of the Lord has triumphed!”
17 I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the Lord.
18 The Lord has punished me sorely,
but he did not hand me over to death.
19 Open for me the gates of righteousness;
I will enter them;
I will offer thanks to the Lord.
20 “This is the gate of the Lord;
he who is righteous may enter.”
21 I will give thanks to you, for you answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The same stone which the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the LORD’S doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 On this day the Lord has acted;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”
 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”