My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
“Again, 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…” John 20:21-22
As I write this letter it is Pentecost Sunday – the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Luke’s account (Acts 2), the Spirit comes upon the believers in a mighty wind. In John’s account the Spirit comes to the disciples on the breath of Jesus.
Breathing, breath, has been such a part of our lives this week. As we continue to take precautions to protect us from COVID-19, we continue to be the church apart from our buildings and our gatherings. We do this to protect ourselves and each other. Because COVID-19 at its worst can take our breath away. One of the most serious symptoms of the disease is difficulty breathing.
This week we also watched a video of a handcuffed black man, cry out, “I can’t breathe,” as a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck until there was no breath left in him. And we have watched, breathlessly, as the anger at systemic racism and injustice brought peaceful demonstrators out into the streets of our cities and towns. We have also watched as those peaceful demonstrations turned violent and destructive. Our daughter, Amanda, served in Lutheran Volunteer Corp for a year after college. She spent that year in the same area that George Floyd lost his life. She had been in many of the businesses and community nonprofits that were destroyed and she wept for her old neighborhood. But she also shed tears of thankfulness and joy as she watched that neighborhood come together to clean up the destruction and support one another.
It is Pentecost Sunday! May the Holy Spirit breathe in us the determination to work together to acknowledge and defeat systemic racism and injustice. May the Holy Spirit lead us to be courageous and kind and compassionate. And may the Holy Spirit make us instruments of God’s peace.
Yours in Christ,