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Ruah beyond the mask

Sunday, April 12, 2015

John 20:19-22
Jesus came and stood in their midst. He spoke to his disciples, “Peace be with you.” He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

This is the climactic text in the octave of Easter.

As we testify in the Apostles’ Creed, which first appeared near the end of the fourth century, Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body …

Jesus comes from the Father and brings the Holy Spirit. Now God is here in high definition. Reminding us of our created glory, Jesus sets the standard for suffering, death and resurrection. He is, as Paul calls him, the “firstborn among many brothers.”

We all, like sheep, have gone astray. Jesus the good shepherd brings us home. His words, his deeds, his life, his death, his return to life, and now his gift of presence breathes life into us. “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

In his gentle, insistent way Jesus invites us into the world where he is king, where he is messiah, where he is the Lord of Lords.

We spent yesterday afternoon watching “Beyond the Mask” at the Art Theater in Champaign. A raucous audience applauded wildly at the end. The good guys win. The highwayman hears Jesus’ call. Benjamin Franklin has a good day. We had a great time.

We fell headlong into the eighteenth century world created for us by the makers of “Fireproof” and “Courageous.” Jesus’ call was as clear then as it is now as it was to the disciples. “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

We take long deep breaths, Lord, and receive your Spirit. Take us into the world you have prepared for us, free from fear. Today we are with you in paradise. Teach us to listen and follow you, so that all you have to teach will come to us in joy that surpasses understanding.

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