Sunday into Monday: Breath

After taking a week off from blogging to focus on a virtual preaching conference, I took another week off because, well, I kind of forgot about it because the rhythm of writing here had been interrupted.

And, goodness, look at what a couple weeks can bring.

The coronavirus pandemic reached a new tragic milestone in the United States as it claimed its 100,000th life.

George Floyd was killed by the police in Minnesota as he pleaded that he could not breathe and cried out for his mother. His murder was captured clearly on video.

Protests have begun in every major city in the United States. As I checked the news today, these protests are now becoming international, as demonstrations are happening in places like London and Berlin.

I’m still very much in the midst of processing this. I’m feeling many emotions: mostly anger and sadness. I’m also feeling the temptation to just look away, or to allow the small number of infiltrators turning peaceful protests into riots to make me forget what’s actually happening, what the focus should be. But, that’s not the responsible thing to do. Now is a time to focus on what God is calling us to see and do. And I’m still very much in the midst of processing this.

As a Christian and pastor, I use prayer and Scripture to process. I’ll be sharing some of that this week in my blog, in hopes that it helps you in your processing.

But before we start that, I want to pause and remember that yesterday was Pentecost. The day that God breathed the Holy Spirit into the nostrils of the church that Jesus had formed just as God breathed into the nostrils of the first human, formed from the dirt. Breath, and the lack of it, was on my mind as I prepared for the Pentecost sermon:

As I reflect on [George Floyd’s] death and on the content of this sermon, it was the breath of God that made Adam a human being, he was created in the image of God but he was not alive until God breathed into his nostrils. Similarly, the disciples were not the church until Jesus breathed into them the Spirit, the force that gives the church its life and meaning. This connection, in both Hebrew and Greek, in both the Old and New Testaments, of the Holy Spirit and breath has been part of my lament this week, as we saw video of another black man in our country killed by the police while telling the officer, “I can’t breathe…” George Floyd, created in the image of God, held down so that the very life force that God breathed into him to make him alive was snuffed out. My heart aches. The evil of racism that has plagued our country for 400 years is not gone, and this latest public manifestation of it breaks my heart. This evil has created a proverbial Ezekiel 37-like valley of dry bones, in need of the Holy Spirit’s movement and breath to bring life back.

Sunday’s sermon

Pray for the Spirit’s movement. Pray for our ability to notice the Spirit’s movement, which can be mysterious and, often, unexpected. Pray for God to breathe new life into each of us, so that we can use our spiritual gifts together to work for the common good (see 1 Corinthians 12:7).

For the full Pentecost service, see below (sermon begins at 23:00)

God bless you as you process and pray through this season.

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