Theme: The gift of the Holy Spirit
Text: John 20:19–23

Possible Focus
As a church we have neglected the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is a day on which we remember the work of the Holy Spirit as a comforter and sustainer of the church.

There are many forces that divide and fragment community. Injustice, hierarchy, discrimination, fear and prejudice expressed both personally as well as structurally through various institutions are examples of demonic forces that destroy the community. Fact is that it is only when we are willing to struggle to overcome these that the Holy Spirit is given to us.

Background of the Text
The narrative of Jesus blowing the Holy Spirit upon the disciples is unique to the gospel of John and is referred to as the insufflations. The variation from the account of the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts is probably to indicate that continuity that exists between Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Significantly while the account in Acts concentrates on power, the Johannine account of the gift of the Holy Spirit is seen as bringing peace. 

Key Verses
Vs 19 “Then the same day at evening, being the first [day] of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace [be] unto you.” The early resurrection community lived in fear of the Jews and it was likely that it was their insistence on the very fact of resurrection that they were the targets of persecution. It is significant then that the greeting of Jesus is a greeting of peace that removes fear, he repeats this sentence again in “And when he had so said, he shewed unto them [his] hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.” It is significant
that Jesus is recognized not by his face, but by his wounds, indicating to us that the messiah is the one who is wounded, by whose stripes we are healed.

Sermon Directions
Pentecost is the day on which the gift of Holy Spirit is remembered. If we are to read the text carefully we would note that the coming of the Holy Spirit means three distinct transitions taking place from death to life, from disunity to unity and from fear to peace. From death to life: Those who received the gift of the Holy Spirit were the
socially outcast, broken, poor disciples of Jesus. The question that we have to ask is what changed this group of disciples and early believers from a motley crew of misfits into a changed group of people with an alternative message of life for all? And the answer has to be found in the resurrection, that the fact that Jesus conquered death by his resurrection breathed new life into these people and charged them with a power that they had never experienced. In this sense it was not only Jesus who experienced a
resurrection but that the entire community of faith itself moved from death into new life, a new life that Jesus gives and in this text is represented by  the blowing of the Holy Spirit on the disciples. From disunity to unity: The disciples of Jesus disbanded at his arrest and trial. In fact, with the exception of John, there are none of the others who
are present at the crucifixion. Yet on that Sunday morning we find them gathered in that room. It seems that only once they are together that the Holy Spirit is given to them. For the gift of the Holy Spirit, unity seems to be essential. Today we are a divided church and a divided community, maybe we too need to be united before the Holy Spirit can effectively work among us. From fear to peace: The text tells us that the disciples were locked away in a room because they were fearful of the Jews. Yet it is significant that Jesus when he appears to the disciples does not convert their fear into power. That, one would suppose would be a natural human response, if one is being unjustly afraid then one would seek revenge and a surge of power which would destroy ones enemies. Yet Jesus offers peace, he says these words more than once in the text. This is not the easy peace that  brushes over transgressions and injustice but is a peace that works its way through these issues. Likewise the peace that Jesus brings is not a
peace that says yes to power, that is in fact the peace that fear brings, rather the peace that Jesus gives to us is the peace that enables us to speak truth to power. The gift of the Holy Spirit demands that there be peace among us.

Prayer Points
Pray for Dalit and Adivasi communities that are struggling for life amidst the forces of death. Pray also for the church that we may be able to overcome the divisions among us.