The Power of God's Breath
Opening Question: How many of you have been in a race? The junior Olympics? Or a 5K? Did you win?
First Reading: Acts 2:1-8,11b
When Pentecost day arrived, everyone gathered together in one place. Suddenly, a noise came from heaven that sounded like a violent wind. The noise filled the house where they sat. Then fiery tongue spread out and sat on each person there. Everyone was filled with the Holy Spirit. And they began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit directed them to.
Devout Jews from all over the world lived in Jerusalem at the time. 6 When they heard the disciples speaking, a large number of these Jews gathered together. The people in the crowd were confused because each one of the disciples spoke to them in their own language. They were stunned, and kept wondering, "Aren't all these people from Galilee? We hear them speak in the language where we were born. How can this be? All of us hear God's greatness proclaimed by these people in our own languages!"
Mandy was pumped for the big race. It was her first 10 K, a 6.6 mile race. She worked out for six months running with her parents, riding her bike, skating long distances on her roller blades. She really believed she was ready.
She lined up at the starting gate. "On your mark , get set!" the starter yelled. Then the gun went off. And everyone made a mad dash for position. Mandy ran her fastest at first, then she settled down to get her rhythm. Mandy looked at the course, but she focused on her breathing, in and out, in and out.
Mandy always wanted to be like her mom, the high school cross-country champion, the college competitor. Her mom still had trophies and ribbons from those days. And she had new ones. Mandy saw her mom race to victory many times. Now it was Mandy's turn to win. Her mom watched her race.
"Go, Mandy, GO!" Mandy saw her mom yelling. Mandy waved at her mom, then returned her focus on her breathing and her race. In and out, in and out. Should she save her energy or try to pass the girl in front of her? She decided to pass the girl. As she came closer, her lungs let her know she was straining. In and out, harder and harder.
There, she passed one girl, only to see another. Should she pass her? Yes! Mandy sped up and passed the next girl only to see another. Did she have enough energy to pass the next girl our should she wait and save her energy for the sprint at the end?
Out of the corner of her eye, Mandy could see the 5K sign. She was closer to the end. Now she had to make some choices. Go faster now or at the end. Her lungs hurt a little and her heart pumped like crazy. Then she saw her mom yell, "You're in third place!" Mandy decided now was the time to make her move. She put all her energy in to a sprint and passed the next girl. She came closer to the leader. She wanted to put all her focus on the leader, but her lungs wouldn't let her. Her chest began to hurt.
"Stay on the leader," she thought to herself. On the last turn, Mandy was the leader "kick-in," begin to sprint. Mandy didn't know if she had enough strength to keep up, but she decided to try. Mandy sprinted as hard as she could. In spite of her lungs, she was surprised she still had the strength to run. In and out, harder and harder. What was this? The leader began to slow down. If I can just run a little faster...
Mandy put her last bit of strength into her legs. At the finish, Mandy took two steps and beat the leader by 6 inches. She ran 6.6 miles and won by half a foot. She was really excited, but then it happened. Her lungs and heart said "No more!" Mandy collapsed. She laid dizzy and weak, she couldn't get air fast enough. She felt as if her life had been sucked right out of her.
Mandy's mom came over and helped her up. Mandy's mom walked her around. Slowly, Mandy felt life come back. She was getting enough air. Her heart was slowing down. She was breathing easier. "I did good, Mom?" Mandy asked. "You were awesome!" Mandy's mom answered.
Breathe in. Breathe out. What you feel is air giving you life. What would you feel if God gave you life? He would breathe on you and you would breathe it in. Breathe in. Breathe out. But God's breathe would be like a strong wind, like a hurricane. That's what Jesus' followers heard. They heard and felt God's breathe. The began to felt the power of God's life inside of them. They had God's Spirit and it changed them, from cowards into heroes.
Gospel: John 20:19-23
Bridging Question: Has anyone asked you to do something? What was it? Did they give you a way to get the job done? What was it?
Late Sunday evening, the followers of Jesus locked the doors of the place where they met because they feared the Jewish leaders. Jesus appeared in the middle of them and said, "Peace be with you." After he spoke, Jesus showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They felt great joy when they saw the Lord. Again, Jesus said to them, "Peace be with you. Just as the Father sent me, I am sending you."
Then, Jesus blew on them. "Take in the Holy Spirit," Jesus said.
"If you forgive someone's sins, their sins are and will ever be forgiven. If you don't forgive their sins, their sins are not forgiven."
The long wait was over. Jenna's day had come. Her favorite movie had opened. Jenna and her family had a front row seats. And Jenna didn't want to miss a single minute of it
But they still had 25 minutes to wait. "Dad, it's going to be a long time for the movie," Jenna complained.
Quietly, her dad reached into his pocket, pulled out his wallet, and picked out a fresh $20 bill. "Go get your mother and me some popcorn and drinks. Get yourself something, too," her dad just loud enough for Jenna to hear over the noise in the theater. "Just bring me back the change."
"Wow!" Jenna thought to herself. The twenty dollar bill was the most money she had ever held in her hand. She tucked it safely into her pocket, walked out into the movie lobby, and got into a huge line. Waiting might take forever.
Jenna pondered and analyzed her choices. When she got to the counter, she knew exactly what she wanted. "Two large colas, a large popcorn, a medium punch, and those chocolate candies," Jenna said to the person behind the counter.
"Good choice," she heard a voice whisper.
Jenna turned. "Dad!" she exclaimed.
"I just came back here to help you carry the food back," her dad said with a big smile. He beamed with pride because his girl carried out her responsibility.
When they returned to their seats, the house lights dimmed. As the movie previews began, Jenna leaned over to her dad and held out her hand. "Nine dollars and 37 cents," Jenna whispered. "It's your change, Dad."
Jenna's dad gave her a request. Get food at the movies. And he gave her the power to carry out that request. A $20 bill. Jenna soon learned that a request means a certain power.
Jesus requested his followers forgive people. And he gave them the power of the Holy Spirit to forgive people. They would start with their family and friends. But they won't stop there.
Throughout the whole world the followers of Jesus preach God's love and forgiveness. They help make her followers for Jesus, because they have the power of the Spirit to help them.
Closing Reflection: You have the Power! The power of God's Spirit! What can you do with that power? How can it change your life?