“And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.'”
| John 20.22, NIV
In our capitalist system, we are prone to think that receiving is about getting. “Gimme” is the empire’s prayer response. We say, “more” as confirmation of receipt. The entitlement drips from our lips. We expect to have. We lay claim without permission. It is our privilege, our right. It must be mine. It should belong to me.
And we compete for the most stuff: “Whoever dies with the most toys win.” Ashes to ashes? Excess is the name of the game and we take no thought for the meaningful experiences, learning and relationship that we have lost out on. No, we are more concerned with materials, designer fabrics, the biggest stones, the best wood.
And we frown upon those who want a hand out. Because this is not the work of our hands. No, we work with our hands. But, beggars don’t often choose this way of life. Still, we put our hands in our pockets and walk away. We give a hand up to those we like and who “look” like us.
But, receiving can suggest a posture of openness. We receive guests into our home. Our open hands are a sign of welcome. Empty hands that suggest that all that I have is yours. My home is your home.
And consider how God gives, not the scraps but mouth to mouth. God’s breath is our breath. We must be open to receive this gracious act of hospitality less we die. It is the supreme daily welcome to life and living. And we receive it freely.
We open our mouths without concern for who is looking and we inhale deeply. If only we could receive each other in this way, to open our lives and receive persons deeply, fully and truly– as if these relationships were life- sustaining.