We now turn to another Pentecost hymn.
Breathe on me, breath of God:
fill me with life anew,
that I may love as you have loved
and do as you would do.
Throughout scripture there are many occasions where we read of God breathing upon humankind. Right from the time of creation we read of the life giving breath of God and now in John 20:19-23
“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
In a gesture of wonderful intimacy, Jesus ‘breathed’ the Holy Spirit into his disciples. The act evokes God’s promise to Ezekiel centuries earlier, to give us hearts of flesh instead of hearts of stone. We may also ask as disciples of today, if we refuse to believe ourselves forgiven, how can we forgive others?
Jesus came to the disciples at the time of their great fear. He came to them although the doors were locked. He comes to us too, wherever we am locked in by fear, and he gives us his peace. We think now of those areas in our lives where are we afraid. Can we imagine Jesus coming and standing before us and saying “Peace be with you”. And in that place stay for a little while, looking at Jesus, hearing his words of peace, feeling calm return to my heart.
Then in that sacred presence Jesus breathes upon us and gives us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of peace and truth and joy. May we turn to the Spirit for help whenever fear threatens to overwhelm us. Breath on me breath of God. Amen