Pastoral Letter 4

Pastoral Letter 4                                                    17th May 2020

“Jesus said to the disciples “Peace be with you.” Then He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20

In John 20:22 Jesus breathes on the disciples and gives them The Holy Spirit. In the original Greek version of The Bible the word for “Holy Spirit” is wind or breath and so this would read “Jesus breathed on the disciples and gave them the breath of God.” The Holy Spirit, the most powerful force in the Universe, the power that created the earth and all that is in it, was now inhabiting the minds, souls and bodies of these imperfect, vulnerable and finite men. They were probably not even aware of The Holy Spirit until they received it. But you and I are aware because this same Holy Spirit is God’s gift to each one of us and each of us can be filled with it and have our lives completely changed.

The question is, therefore, “have you and I been filled with this Spirit?” It is a relevant question because I believe that many Christians, probably including myself to some extent, have not received it and certainly not in full measure. As I have said before, this does not in any degree make us less Christian, because, in fact, no one can know Jesus as their Saviour without the Holy Spirit being active in their lives. God looks on us no less favourably and He loves us just as much as He ever did. But it does put us at a disadvantage when it comes to enjoying and making the most of our Christian lives. We should always remember that God’s ultimate will for us is that we should know Him, love Him and ENJOY Him for ever. And this means that we enjoy our earthly lives to the full. It’s a question of sucking the last bit of juice out of the orange: it’s messy and ungainly but you do have the satisfaction of knowing that there isn’t a single drop of juice left in that orange!

I was sitting in the garden the other day (you can always tell a person who hasn’t been out for a long time!) and watching the birds as they flew overhead. First there were the little Blue Tits flapping their wings like mad just to cover a few yards: then there were the geese, flying in formation like the Red Arrows although they more resembled Jumbo Jets, flapping their large wings constantly and making the most horrendous honking noise presumably to encourage each other! I thought to myself “That’s what comes of being overweight!” And then, suddenly, there was the silent flight of a seagull (at least it looked like a seagull) which hardly flapped its wings at all but simply hovered rising and falling gracefully following the currents of the air. It was propelled not by the exertion of its wings but by the flow of air beneath it. The other birds seemed pre-occupied with reaching their destination (in the case of the geese they probably just needed a rest!) but this bird, all on its own, was gliding for the sake of gliding and was having a great time! It wasn’t thinking of the future: it wasn’t regretting the past: but making the most of the present moment. It was living fully in the here and now.

It reminded me of what it must be like to have the breath of God under your wings and to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

And I thought to myself “which kind of bird am I and which of these three birds do I most identify with?” I won’t tell you what answer I came to but you can probably guess!

God wants you to be as free and happy as that bird circling, diving and soaring in the air. He wants you to be literally as free as a bird because He loves you so much and any barriers you and I erect are only of our own choosing and making. It was this wonderful freedom that Jesus breathed upon His disciples and there is plenty more where that came from. It is never too late to receive it and it’s all there for the asking but you really do have to want it. God won’t love you any less if you don’t but there’s so much more that He longs that we should know and enjoy.

You might be feeling lonely and isolated in lockdown and cut off physically from friends and family: you might be missing your “normal” life and the things you like to do and people you like to meet. But nothing in the world or universe can cut you off from God and His love: nor can anything deny you the wonderful gifts that God longs to give you and the joy and freedom of knowing yourself as His child filled with His Spirit. So, in this time of restriction, let us open ourselves up and soar on eagle’s wings: and, if you can’t see an eagle, then a seagull will do!

God bless you all and may He strengthen you and keep you safe until that wonderful day when we can all meet again.

With love and blessings from Peter.






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