Great Plains Daily Devotional for 5/26/2023: John 20:19-23

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Today's Lectionary Text

John 20:19-23

It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.”

Today's Devotional

This Sunday, we prepare for Pentecost Sunday, the end of the Easter Season, and the celebration of the Holy Spirit coming to dwell with us. This is the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus' disciples, empowering them to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  

Our communities celebrate this Memorial Day weekend, and we remember the legacy of the people who have gone before us, especially those have died in all of the American wars.  

This week we celebrated Aldersgate Day on Wednesday, May 24, when John Wesley felt his heart strangely warmed and recorded in his journal in 1738, “In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”  

All of these events this week – Pentecost, Aldersgate Day, Memorial Day -- lead to today’s Scripture in John 20:19-23. When Jesus, gathered with his disciples for the last time.  

The disciples were together, and the doors were locked. That the disciples were gathered in one place shows the importance of community. They were fearful and waiting for the next steps. Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to the “Peace be with you.”  

Then Jesus says a second time, “Peace be with you,” and adds “as the Father has sent me so I send you.’ And when he said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them; and whose sins you retain are retained.”  

With the fearful disciples gathered, the peace of Christ blew in their midst. Jesus, the Son of God, breathes on the disciples and says to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  

This is not the Pentecost story we know of in Acts 2. It’s the prelude to the big celebration. It is the story that reminds us that the Holy Spirit comes in many ways with a simple breath and a peace that passes all understanding. It’s the last words of Jesus to the disciples. It is the Holy Spirit who breathed into our lives, the Church, and the world.  

How do you need to experience the Holy Spirit this week? It could be through a large celebration with great wind, fire and excitement to renew you again. It could be in the words of peace from Jesus who has gone on before us.  

May the Holy Spirit blow in your life today in whatever way you and your community needs. Your teacher for this week in the Holy Spirit. Allow the Spirit to teach you. Listen to the movement of the Spirit in your daily life.  

-- Rev. Nicole Conard 
Assistant Director of Congregational Excellence

Prayer for Reflection

O breath of God, Blow into our lives again. Fill us anew. Enliven the parts of ourselves and our communities that have weakened or grown stale. Stir up the flame of Your love, faith and hope and give us peace. Come, Holy Spirit, come. Amen. 


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