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Theme for the Year


The Breath of God

Last Thursday was Ascension Day…the day Christians remember Jesus ascending into Heaven. And unless you’re from a particularly liturgical background, it probably didn’t feature highly on your radar!

But last week I found myself in some verses at the end of John’s gospel, and whilst not explicitly about the Ascension, it all relates.

It’s John 20:21-23. Read it and then read on.

So it’s Resurrection day and Jesus is with his disciples. John writes, “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.’”

He breathed on them.

Does that make you think of anything else in Scripture?

It made me go back to Genesis 1 where God breathes into man’s nostrils the breath of life.

In the beginning God breathes life. And here, right before Jesus’ departure, He breathes life…new life.

We talk about this often at Neighbourhood: how Jesus came to put right what went wrong. And how that centred on his death and resurrection. It’s there, at the cross, that death and sin are defeated.

But it’s the Holy Spirit that applies Christ’s work personally to our hearts. It’s the Holy Spirit who takes all that Christ has done and achieved, and works it deep inside us.

Jesus breathes his re-creative, renewing Spirit upon his disciples.

And then he commissions them. “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Sounds a bit weird. But I think what Jesus is getting at is this…

His disciples, and all who follow in the way of Jesus, are charged with taking the good news message of what Jesus has accomplished, and announcing it. Of proclaiming the message of forgiveness, of reconciliation, of restoration…of new life.

Recreated in and by the power of the Holy Spirit; being renewed by the Life-Giver…we are commissioned to be agents…ambassadors of this very same message of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Commissioned and empowered by the Ascended King, we are authorised to partner with Him, in His ongoing mission to reconcile all people to the One who gives life.

Today folks, feel the Breath of God upon you again.

Know God’s pleasure upon you.

Take seriously the privilege of being Agents of the King.

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