The Introduction 

God created the world with a word, scripture tells us. God spoke the word BE, and all that is came into being. In the same way, God spoke divinity into human form when Jesus the Word ‘became flesh and dwelt among us’. Finally, the Spirit of Holiness becomes available to us when Jesus breathes the simple words, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’. The gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit are defined by lists of words that school children memorise, but behind those words are powerful realities. Invoking the Spirit of joy, peace, patience, and love will create quite a different world than the one invoked by anger, bitterness, and indifference. Lives are bound together or drawn apart by words spoken or withheld. Stewardship over the power of words is a holy reality.

Look up the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. How many of these are expressed in your life? Choose one fruit of the Holy Spirit that is least present in your life, and make conscious decisions to employ it this week.

The Scripture (John 20: 21-21) Jesus appears to the Disciples

The disciples were filled with joy when they saw Jesus, who said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As God sent me, so I’m sending you’. After saying this, Jesus breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone sins, they are forgiven. If you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained’.

The Connection

Like other artists of his time, the seventeenth-century Flemish painter Rubens had a group of apprentices working with him. They watched closely and strove to imitate him. He would sometimes pause for a moment, gazing at the rather hesitant creation of one of the would-be artists. Then, seizing the brush from the hands of the pupil, he would add the finishing touches. It was those touches that brought the painting to life. After alluding this practice of Rubens, a modern scripture scholar notes that until the day of Pentecost the disciples, the Lord’s ‘apprentices’, had been clumsily trying to copy their Master; but on that day ‘the Spirit … finished the painting’.

It is a neat way of summarising the effects of the first Pentecost. It explains why Pentecost is spoken of as the Church’s birthday, the day when the Church truly sprang to life; the day when it was made ready for its mission of taking the Good News to the ends of the earth. The mighty wind, which shook the house where the disciples had gathered, soon grew still and the flames of fire, which hovered over their heads, soon disappeared. But the Holy Spirit, whose coming had been announced by wind and fire, had come to stay, had come to be with the Church until the end of time, to be its very soul, its life principle. And the Holy Spirit never grows old!

The Commissioning

In the power of the Holy Spirit, nothing is impossible!
We will leave the past behind carefully;
we will share generously;
we will participate gladly;
we will face decisions bravely;
we will confront evil without fear;
we will venture confidently;
we will be reconciled joyfully;
we will grasp discipleship enthusiastically!
With the Spirit you can find fulfillment, and live faithfully!

GPBS © (2023)

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