An excerpt from a sermon starter by LaDonna Nkosi, director of Intercultural Ministries, for the 2020 Pentecost Offering of the Church of the Brethren
“On the evening of the 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 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.’”
On Pentecost, we celebrate the outpouring of God’s Spirit upon peoples from many nations speaking different languages. This is the gift that Jesus promised in John 14 and 15 and Acts 1 that was made manifest in Acts 2. Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
In our Pentecost Offering theme scripture of John 20:19-23, Jesus appears to his disciples who are locked in and afraid. It is important to ask, “Why where they afraid? What was causing them to be locked in and afraid?”
Today in many towns, villages, cities, and nations, people are locked in and afraid. People are doing their best to protect themselves and their neighbors from being infected by COVID-19.
The Bible records that Jesus himself breaks into their fear and locked-in places, and stands among them. This, my friend, will preach!
Jesus comes to us in our places of need, places of impossibility, places of uncertainty, and he himself stands among us, saying, “Peace be with you.”
What are the places where we need God to breathe on us? What are the places where you personally need Jesus himself to stand with you and breathe?
As we approach Pentecost, may we all receive a breath of fresh air from Jesus and celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit.