Times & Directions       Prayer       Give Online      next steps    
Breath and Spirit: Thoughts on a Tragic Week
(0 votes)
Add to favourites

I recorded my Pentecost Sunday sermon early this week before hearing about all of the explosive things that have happened with the George Floyd case and the subsequent outpouring of pain and violence at yet another tragic failure of our culture to deal seriously with racial injustice. Coming on the heels of another terrible incident in the Ahmahd Aubery shooting, and with the country already in a high state of anxiety, division, and conflict over the coronavirus, crossing the threshold of 100,000 deaths, and a host of other issues, this has been an especially tragic week.

 

My sermon this week focuses on the image of “breath” in the giving of the Spirit–the “breath” of God being the animating and empowering aspect of our humanity not only physically but spiritually as well. I didn’t know when I wrote and recorded the message that “I can’t breathe” would once again become a public cry of pain and desperation. Admittedly, I should have known–it’s a theme that recurs with all too much frequency.

 

The “breath” of God, the life within us, is given to us all and is present with us from the very moment we draw that first breath after birth. We become so used to the rhythm of breathing that we take it for granted until such time as it is restricted either by illness or trauma. When that happens, we count every breath because we don’t know when one of them will be our last. It’s a desperate feeling and we want nothing more than relief; to breathe free again.

 

I hurt for my African-American brothers and sisters who have to hold their breath when they go out in public, anticipating that they may be subject to unjust treatment and senseless violence. I hurt for my elderly and vulnerable brothers and sisters who are concerned about a virus that threatens to restrict their breathing. I hurt for a culture which draws in breath only exhale it in anger, vitriol, and hatred all too often. Humans weren’t made for this. God formed us from the dust and breathed into us the breath of life so that every human may be “a living being” (Genesis 2:7). Beginning with Adam, every human has been made to breathe free; made in the image of God to live life with God.

 

Friends, this is a time for all of us to stop and take a few deep breaths of our own and to consider the ways in which we, the people of God, have not always cleared the air for others to breathe freely and without fear. We need to breathe in and listen to our neighbors who experience injustice and fear every day–to refrain from speaking for a time, from offering assumptions and opinions from our places of safety and privilege–and hear the deeper cries of people seeking room to freely breathe in the same air God has provided for all of us. And when we breathe out, our words should reflect the mercy, justice, and peace of the Christ who has given us the Holy Spirit for just that purpose–to give witness to the reconciling and healing power of the gospel.

 

The breath of the Holy Spirit within us isn’t just a spiritual nicety and Pentecost isn’t just a one-off event. We are given the wind and fire of the Spirit so that we can be equipped as people who live differently than the rest of the world, who speak of a God who loves and is for all people. The Spirit is poured out on all who call on the name of the Lord, as Peter says in his Pentecost sermon, so that they can be God’s reconciling, renewing, and restoring people. That this hard week ends on the doorstep of Pentecost should be a wake up call for us–a reminder that the breath of the Spirit is in us for a purpose.

 

Yes, weeks like this should cause us to go to our knees in prayer, in intercession but also in repentance and confession of our own prejudices and self-interest. But the Spirit also calls us to work for what we pray for, to look for opportunities to be the kind of people who clear the air for others and to help them live without fear.

 

So, take a deep breath and let it out. Be reminded that you were able to do so only because God has given you that opportunity. And then make a determination to help others, in whatever way you can, breathe deeply, easily, safely, and securely as well.



Church Website Login
This is the STAFF LOGIN area. If you have no website account, click the Pencil Icon link above to create one. Then, confirm your account through email. One of our admins will then confirm who you are and approve the account.