Resurrection and Receiving the Holy Spirit

The store near our house is done clearing away Easter goodies, but in church communities all over the world, the 50-day celebration of Easter has just begun.

Today I’m pondering a passage from John’s gospel that was read yesterday at our church– and in many churches throughout the world– for the Second Sunday of the Easter Season. In this passage, the disciples are hiding behind locked doors in fear. They must have been afraid that if their leader, Jesus, was killed, they might be next on the list for the same treatment for following him.

Suddenly, the Risen Jesus appears in their midst. Peace be with you, he says. I think it’s important to notice what Jesus did not say. He could have easily said, where were you guys when I needed you?  You said you would stick by me no matter what happened!  He could have castigated Peter for denying him three times before the cock crowed. But no…Jesus says, Peace be with you!

Sunrise over Atlantic Coast--Clement of Alexander quote--Spiritual Drawing Board(click on image for full effect)

Not only does Jesus offer them peace. He gives them a special calling: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” They, too, are called by God to carry on the work of Jesus Christ–and he gives them the spiritual strength and gifts they need to do this ministry by breathing on them and saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit…”

As I mentioned in the post about Jesus breathing his last breath on the cross, the words for breath and spirit are often closely related in the original languages of the bible. Jesus handed over his spirit to the Father when he died on the cross. The Father breathed life into Christ again in the Resurrection–a new kind of life, an eternally living, breathing, incarnated and risen way of existence.

Now Jesus is passing his Holy Spirit into the disciples to empower them to carry on his work. This Holy Spirit has been “breathed” into followers of Jesus throughout all the centuries since that time.

Today, Jesus “breathes” his Spirit, the Holy Spirit, into each one of us who seeks to believe and follow in his path.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts this day with your peace, inner strength, and gifts to serve others with love! 

 Until next time, Amen! 

 

Easter member Julie McCarty is a freelance writer, spiritual director, beginning artist, and volunteer coordinator of Easter Prays/Easter Praise! blog. This post originally appeared on her blog, Spiritual Drawing Board

 

 

A Spiritual View of Change

[Editor’s note: Below is a reflection from Pastor Kris Capel from the September, 2014 newsletter (reprinted with permission)]

DSCF3248mod1-SMALL-200x300It has certainly been a couple of months filled with big news here at Easter Lutheran.

In rapid succession you received two significant announcements: Pastor Paul’s retirement in a year, and Pastor Kevin’s new call in Hibbing, MN.

We will miss RevKev and all of the energy he brings to Easter. Over the 14 years Kevin has served this community, he has poured his heart into the lives of so many people, shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ and worked tirelessly to “grow in faith and carry on the work of Jesus Christ.” There will no doubt be a hole left at Easter as Kevin follows God’s call.

Pastor Paul is around for another year, so we get to love him a little longer.

And you might be asking the question — “Is anything going to stay the same?”

It’s a great question! Some people love change. Some people hate change. As we navigate through this change together, I want to remind all of us of a few very important things.

First, this is God’s church. Easter Lutheran has gone through a handful of pastoral transitions over the years. Each Pastor who has served Easter has brought their own set of gifts and blessings to this community. Because of those pastors, we have grown in new ways, served in new ways and built relationships with people we would have otherwise never known.

The call of Pastor is a call to the whole church, and we are always encouraged to be open to where God may be calling next. But the bottom line is that this church belongs to God. There is a great hymn in the Lutheran Book of Worship called “The Church of Christ, in Every Age.” As I write this, the first verse rings in my head:

The church of Christ, in every age
Beset by change, but Spirit-led
Must claim and test its heritage
And keep on rising from the dead.

This hymn, penned in 1971, reminds me that from generation to generation the church is no different from the world in that we are “beset by change” in every aspect of our lives. God dreamed up Easter Lutheran Church and has set our course in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Change is inevitable but our mission is not. It is connected to God’s enduring love which NEVER CHANGES.

Second, we will grieve, and that is OK.  Just as people grieve, communities also grieve. We grieved when Jim retired. We will grieve when Kevin leaves and when Paul retires. It is important to talk to one another about how we will move forward and honor where everyone is on our own journey. And as we grieve, it is important to remember that God is in the middle of our community.

As Paul writes in Ephesians 4:15-16:

We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Third, we are EASTER people. As our name boldly announce, we are people who celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In all of life there are little deaths along the way. But after death, there is always resurrection. There are always new hopes, new dreams, new visions and new beginnings. So as people who proclaim the resurrection we move forward in the confident hope that God through Jesus Christ goes before us.

In other words, we do not grieve as people without hope. Just as Kevin is called to new adventures, God is already working to prepare the perfect Pastor for this time in the life of Easter Lutheran Church. We will faithfully work to discern God’s call in the midst of this change, and we will embrace the future into which God is calling us.

In the meantime, there is work to be done. There are ears that need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. There are hungry people to be fed. There are children who need love. There are babies to be welcomed through the sacrament of Baptism. There are broken hearts that need love. There is a community that gathers around Word and Sacrament to proclaim to the world that Christ is Risen.

We give thanks to God for this incredible church — that is the Christ of Christ in every age. We give thanks to God for the resurrection, remind us that God is always at work making all things new.

Wall at Easter Lutheran Church 2014

 

Pastor Kris Capel is the lead pastor at Easter Lutheran Church in Eagan, Minnesota.