A quick rambling--
This morning's gospel reading is from John 20 and shows the disciples hiding togetherbehind closed doors, in fear, before Christ appears to them. Today I plan to teach about the hiding, the fear and the lack of deep-breathing in the room. Can't you feel the tension?
Thomas isn't there. Judas is obviously out. All of them have their varying desertions they wish they could hide from one another. But here they are, together. Agendas? Evidently they are heading back to the fishing boats, and their life-before-Jesus-status-quo. But, can you really hang-out with God for a few years and then return to the old normal?
The Acts 4 passage shows a communal experiment the disciples enjoyed in the early days of the church. The picture here is one of community. "No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had....There were no needy persons among them." By now their only agenda is Jesus' message--the one he gave them when he joined them behind closed doors. They aren't anywhere near their boats. How do they get here? How do they go from that room of shallow-breathing-fear, to this place of harmony?
Well, three hours from now I'll try to share some word of encouragement and power. Something about the shallow-breathing guys who refused to believe the women who had gone to the now empty tomb. A little about a couple of men who had seen Jesus on the road. And then Jesus shows up, and tells them to take a deep breath--of his Spirit--greeting them with "Peace be with you." Then he tells them he is sending them, and breathes on them and tells them to receive the Holy Spirit. What? Why? Because if they forgive others their sins, those people will be forgiven. And if they don't, they won't. (Not much pressure there!)
But would we rather put the pressure on others. If you ___________ (fill in the blank), then God will forgive you." I fear this if/then thinking misses the point of God's breath in us. Is it possible the if hides a doubt on our part of their worthiness? Or a hurdle we hope might keep them from the club? Why not just a simple "You, my friend, are forgiven."? Jesus seems to cloak his followers with some pretty serious authority. Do we shirk it?
Will you take a deep breath of him, go in his peace, and offer forgiveness?