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Monday, April 21, 2014

Scripture Reading: 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.” (NRSV)

A few years ago at a gathering of Asian American Presbyterian leaders, many of us were lamenting changes in the ministry commitments of our denominational leadership: structures dedicated to connection and growth for marginalized communities were being cut. We complained about feeling ignored and left out, about the persistence of institutional racism, about how the church had failed us.

Then someone who had been a mentor to many of us challenged us, saying, “These things didn’t exist because the rest of the denomination cared more about us back then. We cared, so we made it happen. Stop complaining. Make those things happen yourselves.”

When Jesus appears to the disciples on the evening of the first day of the week, they are behind locked doors, afraid of the world outside. They are powerless and besieged. Yet as he brings his peace to them, he does not affirm their fears or coddle them in their weakness. Instead he points to their power. He breathes the Holy Spirit on to them and says, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them.”

Even after Jesus’ resurrection and his triumph over sin and death, the world is full of brokenness and sin—evil that threatens the disciples. Yet Jesus does not allow them to simply seek shelter from those threats, to wait for Jesus to complete the work. He tells the disciples that the same power that was in him when he overcame the cross is in them now and that it is their task to finish what he has started.

God of resurrection power, help me to see that the same Spirit you put in Jesus lives in me, too. Give me boldness, so I might risk going out into a broken and sinful world to bring forgiveness and reconciliation where it is needed. Amen.

Written by Hardy H. Kim, Associate Pastor for Evangelism

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