IN THE MIDST OF US

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John 20:19-25

Every day 35,000 children under the age of 5 die. They die because they do not have enough water, basic medical care, and food. Most of these children could be saved on any day with just a tiny portion of what we spend on the military, entertainment or pork barrels. What do we do in the face of such a grim statistic? 35,000 children? What we usually do is to tune out, to willfully distract ourselves to more pleasant information. After all, what can one person do? Easter is a source of hope, a means of confronting the evils of this world because Easter says that it is not all up to us.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Where have all of these disciples been? At the foot of the cross I find only Mary Magdalene, Mary, mother of James, Mary, mother of Jesus, his aunt and John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. Peter has already denied him three times and run away. But, where are the others? Now they all gather (except Thomas) in an upper room. And they are “afraid.” The Romans want to know how the body was taken from a guarded tomb. The Jewish leaders wonder how this conspiracy will end. And now the news is brought from Mary Magdalene, Mary, mother of James and Salome, that He is alive!

Reading this passage one has to ask the question, “What is Jesus wanting the believers to learn?” Certainly there is the lingering question in the minds of all the believers, “Is He really alive?” And his appearance will certainly dispel all doubt. But there is something more here then just removing their doubts.

The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

We often think of the Holy Spirit in terms of coming at Pentecost but here, Jesus is breathing on them and granting them the Spirit. Part of our reminder is that God is always present. Matthew has Jesus saying to the believer, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The issue is the “omnipresence” of God. Jesus has just come back from the dead and will now prepare for His ascension into heaven. They now remember His words, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.” (John 14:18)

It is difficult for us to understand an omnipresent God. The Christ candle on the Advent wreath represents the omnipresence of God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Why? Because He is God. We want to treat God like we treat the Advent candles. When it is over, we box them up and put them away. But the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one God. You may be waiting for Pentecost to come but the Father is still in our presence.

Prayer is not “going to God” for God is already here. We say we are “seeking God” but God has already found us. We say we want to “open ourselves to God” but the truth is we couldn’t keep God out if we tried. We say we are “becoming more spiritual” but we already have the spirit.

I went flying a kite was a friend a few weeks ago. We had two kites – one with two strings and one with one string. We discovered that the more weight that we put on the tails of the kites the higher they would fly. Isn’t that odd?
The more weight the higher they would fly. But I also discovered that I could control the kite with one string better than the kite with two strings. Now, it wasn’t designed that way. The two strings were supposed to give better control. But I was always getting them tangled. Always unable to operate two hands independently.

Maybe that is the way it should be with God. One line of control, allowing God to control our lives. We, like the disciples live in fear that God has forgotten about us. Somewhere we have boxed Him up and put Him away.
Understand, God is always with us.

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