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!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
I love Indian food in general and in particular those served in the “curry-mile” on Wilmslow Road in south Manchester. I used to go there with other ministerial students from Luther King House at the end of very busy days. At times, we were so hungry that we struggled to wait for meals to be served. Luckily, they always serve some poppadoms and delicious dips once we arrived – that helped a little while the ‘real’ meals are prepared.
This embodies perhaps the mini-Pentecost, when Jesus breathed the Spirit on his friends to give them enough strength, as they waited for Pentecost. That waiting for Pentecost was very long and demanding for confused, fragile, vulnerable, ill-equipped, backsliding, persecuted and ostracised disciples. I suspect that Jesus foreknew the challenging waiting for Pentecost and decided to give them a glimpse/flavour of the Pentecostal anointing. Yet, the disciples were not to be satisfied with this mini-Pentecost.
The Lord did not give them the full measure of the Spirit so that they remain hungry for more and weak enough to need one another’s fellowship. Moreover, Jesus gave them just enough power so that they were not tempted to attempt changing the world right away.
Perhaps we do not always feel that we have all it takes to enact God’s promises in our lives and in the Church. Today, God may be exhorting us to keep dreaming His impossible-looking visions until we are fully equipped and anointed. Jesus might be telling us that we have all it takes in us, to help us wait faithfully for more. Maybe Jesus wants to encourage us to forget about changing the world for now. Maybe we are merely expected to dwell in his peace, as he gives us strength and mercy, just about enough for each and every day.
How hopeful are we today? How joyfully expecting are we for God’s great things to come?
Anointing God may your breath, reassure us that you are closer than our next heart-beat, help our unbelief, still our restlessness, cease all our narcissistic strivings and sustain our faithful waiting. May you always find us grateful, thankful, joyful and in fellowship with one another. May you always find us on our knees: hungry and dreaming for more. Amen
The Rev’d Bachelard Kaze is the Minister of Marlpool, Eastwood and Langley URCs in Derbyshire.