Summary: We in Fiji are heading into another term of lockdown as the nation try and defeat the latest arrival of Covid-19. This is a short message of encouragement.

I want to encourage you at this time of lockdown, with a short message, that you, that we are not alone in this. Next Sunday the 23rd of May is Pentecost Sunday and my thoughts have been with those disciples gathered in one place and the arrival of the Holy Spirit. But earlier in Johns gospel we read of the disciples in a self-enforced “lockdown”. The disciples were “gathered together” as John says “with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders.” Here’s his recounting of this time.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:19-23).

So we have Jesus after his resurrection arriving miraculously into the room, the doors locked and he appears. His first words hit the point, the disciples would have been more than a little shocked, “Peace be with you!” He shows them the evidence that it is him, resurrected and present, his wounded hands, and his side. His disciples are still startled so he says it again, “Peace be with you.” He then gives them their mission mandate, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Set, they have a task, he then breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The next bit is about forgiving peoples sins another part of their task description.

Like the disciples this week we find ourselves in lockdown, maybe in fear of the virus, but hopefully locked down out of care and concern that lives are kept safe through the stopping of the virus’ movement and ability to replicate.

Be encouraged! You know the Peace that only Jesus our resurrected saviour brings, the peace that transcends all understanding.

Be encouraged! As you spend part of your lockdown time reflecting on the evidence of Jesus working in your life, the evidence of your own scars healed and the times that you have seen him at work changing people’s hearts, giving them new futures as they have come to him as Lord.

Be encouraged that in the same way that God breathed the breath of life into Adam (Genesis 2:8), that Jesus has breathed upon you with his Holy Spirit and that now the Spirit of Christ is your, Helper, Comforter and Friend and because of your relationship with him you are living fruitful lives and know Him as the deposit of eternal life. (2 Corinthians 5:1-10)

Be encouraged that at this time you can pray and share with others still through the medium of technology, this being available to us like no other time in the history of mankind. Lockdown brings with it an opportunity for sharing and learning these new things that technology brings. Be encouraged to utilise this tool of technology!

Be encouraged that once the doors are open again that you can take God’s forgiveness into the world again, a world that needs to know of His mercy and grace. Be encouraged for you are a sent people, sent by God the one and only, who is at the Father’s side, making him known where he isn’t known. (Refer John 1:18).

Vinaka and may God bless you in the week ahead.

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