John Day 38: Receive the Holy Spirit

Gospel of John Reading Plan
Day 38 Reading: 
John 20:19-30

Bringing the Word to Life
Use a nail or pencil to pierce a piece of fruit or meat. Reflect on the wounds of Christ and our need to believe without seeing.

Our wounds and scares become the icons of grace. – Paul Young

Only in the context of grace can we face our sin; only in the place of healing do we dare to show our wounds; only with a single-minded attention to Christ can we give up our clinging gears and face our own true nature. – Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Jesus said to them again, “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.” – John 20:21-22 (NRSV)

Jesus not only offers his light to humanity, he offers his breath, his innermost life, so that we may truly belong to him as brothers and sisters and as sons and daughters of his heavenly Father. – Henri Nouwen, Behold the Beauty of the Lord

Knowing the Trinity is being involved in this circling movement: drawn by the Son towards the Father, drawn into the Father’s breathing out of the Spirit so that the Sons’ life may be again made real in the world. It is where contemplation and action become inseparable. –Rowan Williams, The Dwelling of the Light: Praying with Icons of Christ

On Easter Sunday, Jesus makes three post resurrection appearances- first to Mary Magdalene in the garden, then to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24), and finally to a group of disciples hiding from the Jewish leaders. In this third appearance, Jesus twice bids those gathered peace and then breathes on them so they will receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus fulfills his promises to rise from the dead and to send the Holy Spirit. Eight days later Jesus appears to them again when Thomas is present so he too may see and believe.

Jesus knows what we need and provides it: God’s peace, presence and power through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. With these gifts we are commissioned and empowered to join Christ in saving the world.

In the grief and shame of confronting our sin, we get the wind knocked out of us. In God’s forgiveness our old spirit of fear and anxiety is blown away.  Our old, tangled lives are wiped out and we begin fresh. God breathes a new peace into us, the peace of knowing we are loved and forgiven and free, the blessing of being deeply at peace with ourselves and God and the world. God creates us anew, with a new spirit.
– Steve Garnaas-Holmes, A New Spirit

You, O Eternal Trinity,
are a deep sea into which,
the more I enter,
the more I find,
and the more I find,
the more I seek.
O abyss,
O eternal Godhead,
O sea profound,
what more could you give me than yourself?
God’s grace, unsought and unearned,
blows through my life,
and all I need to do
is raise my sails to catch the full wind.
– Catherine of Siena

One day when our daughters were very little, I took them to the church playground at Epworth UMC in Durham, NC. It was a beautiful, bright blue day under the pine trees, full of play and little girl giggles. It was exactly what I needed. I was beyond tired and stressed from trying to handle seminary classes, children, husband and some semblance of personal hygiene. As I stood there a breeze brushed my face. It was as if Jesus was breathing on me: strengthening me, telling me everything was going to be alright, and confirming my calling.

The following hymn text, Wind of the Spirit, was born from this great grace. It is set to the tune ASSURANCE which is most often associated with Fanny Crosby’s text Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine. I chose this tune because it is one of my favorites and because Fanny Crosby is one of my faith heroes, both as a writer and as a person with great challenges who was still used in powerful ways by God.- Lisa <><

Wind of the Spirit
Meter 9 10.99 with refrain
Suggested Tune: ASSURANCE (United Methodist Hymnal #369)

Wind of the Spirit, blow on your child
Reveal the fiction now hidden by style
Self centered passions hold all control
Feeding me falsehood, withering my soul

REFRAIN:  Great Holy Spirit. Sweet Mystery.
Pour forth your glory eternally
Life’s Liberator. Death’s Enemy.
Come Holy Spirit, set your child free*

Wind of Salvation, breathe on my bones,
Resurrect life where destruction was sown,
Flow through my nature, parched now by sin
Pour out forgiveness, cleanse me again (refrain)

Breath of the Savior, soft on my face
whispers a message of love, peace, and grace.
Constantly calling, helping me turn,
offering a life I never could earn. (refrain)

Bright Blazing Spirit, Tongues of Pure Fire
Dance on your children, ignite our desire
Forge our devotion purer than gold.
Shining for all the world to behold. (refrain)

* alternate texts:
Come Holy Spirit, set your church free
Come Holy Spirit, sanctify me

© 4/1999, revised 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.
Lisa is especially interested in collaborating with someone to set this text to original music.

Click here, for Steve Garnaas-Holmes meaningful prayer on Thomas’ encounter with the Risen Christ entitled A Prayer to St. Thomas. Also consider his post entitled, Thomas’ Prayer.

Click here for a powerful reflection on the Holy Spirit as wind and breath of life by Steve Garnaas-Holmes entitled Conspiracy.

Click here for reflections and prayers on the wounds of Christ.

For more information on the Gospel of John Reading Plan, click here

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.


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