The gift of the Spirit

Now Jesus is in the midst of his gathered disciples—here, there, on the other side of the world, next door—from whom he can no longer be separated. And he gives them his peace, their mission, and the Holy Spirit. These three will always go together.

In their brokenness and their propensity to failure the disciples are clearly not equal to the charge to be witnesses, nor, with their too-worldly understanding of power and their terror of vulnerability, are they up to bearing the authority freely to give freedom from sins. Yet they have the gift of the Holy Spirit, however much they are receptive to this gift. And they have one basic task, and that is to live Jesus just as Jesus lived the Father among them.

It will be a task challenged on every side by their own inhibitions and prejudices about how God should work and who God should love and how much. These weaknesses will cause them to stumble, but they are not told they will never fail, and in a sense they are even asked to remain empty-handed and not to try to become powerful in the terms they most know, since their lives do not need to say “We are strong and effective, successful and prophetic” but “We have seen the Lord” and are, even in their weakness and failure, slowly becoming like him.

This will be a long process, but they are never alone in it. In her encounter with the risen Christ, Julian was told, “You will not be overcome.” There will be much to struggle through, but in the light of Easter nothing ever can be, or need be the same again.

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