WEEK FIVE: RELIANCE
John 20: 19-22 (NRSV)
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…”
Yes, we are getting a little ahead of ourselves with this passage from John, in which Jesus has already risen and is now reappearing before the disciples. He breathes on them and tells them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” But in our week of Reliance, the gift of the Spirit from Jesus is yet another assurance that we can rely on God for everything. In receiving the Spirit, we receive guidance, power, comfort, healing, insight, love, and more. we receive Christ within us! Receive is our word for today.
Merriam Webster’s online dictionary* provides several excellent definitions of receive. These will guide our Receive devotional for today. In what different ways are we to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?
to “come into possession of: acquire,” such as receiving a gift. Through Jesus and the Spirit, God offers the joy, hope, peace and love of kingdom living to all of us. We have done nothing to earn or merit this gift, but the Spirit is given out of God’s love through Jesus. Let’s receive this gift with wonder, gratitude and glee!
to “act as a receptacle or container for,” such as a cup receives wine. We are to be the vessels for receiving and holding the Spirit. Let’s empty ourselves of anything that would take up space the Spirit is ready to fill.
to “assimilate through the mind or senses,” such as receiving new ideas. The Spirit will bring us to new understanding and awaken our lives. Let’s receive the Spirit with open minds and eagerness to learn. Let’s anticipate the Spirit’s movement with all of our senses.
to “permit to enter, welcome or greet.” I believe the Spirit is already within us, but we can “extend an invitation” as a way of opening ourselves to notice and abide fully with the Spirit. Let’s welcome the Spirit with warm hearts, genuine hospitality, and our deep, comfortable friendship. Let’s quickly move the Spirit from guest to permanent resident in our souls.
to “accept as authoritative, true or accurate; believe.” The Spirit is our Counselor and Guide, our Wisdom and Discernment. Let’s regard the Spirit as such, with trust and obedience. Let’s continuously seek out the Spirit’s wisdom and help.
to “support the weight or pressure of; bear.” When we receive the Spirit, we are to bear what burdens the Spirit, to move where the Spirit moves, to feel what the Spirit feels. Let’s willingly shoulder what the Spirit needs us to carry.
to “take a mark or impression from the weight of something,” such as clay receiving clear impressions. Let’s allow the Spirit to change and impress us; let’s remain sensitive, pliable and impressionable, like the clay in the Potter’s hands.
to “acquire or experience,” such as receiving an education. The Spirit has much to teach and show us! Let’s receive everything with an open mind, an eager longing to learn new ideas, and freedom from previously held convictions.
to “suffer the hurt or injury of,” such as receiving a broken nose. May we carry the deep awareness and grief for all that Jesus endured and suffered before giving us his Spirit. Let’s receive the pain of all whom the Spirit leads us to help.
The gift of the Spirit is a wondrous gift; let’s receive this gift with gratitude and joy!
Jesus, Giver of the Spirit,
We do receive your Spirit with deep gratitude and joy! Thank you for this unearned gift of your goodness and grace. We receive your Spirit as best we can- now continue to work and fill us completely with YOU. Amen.
* definitions taken from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/receive