A Deep Breath
A Deep Breath
Being on the Hampden Association’s Church and Ministry and Executive Committees has led me to become far more deeply involved in the wider church that I have been in my thirty years of ministry. One of the perks of working at this level is that I get to see the church from the perspectives of those who come from other parts of the country to work in this area. One of their observations is that New Englanders have what the rest of the country sees as an odd idea – that summer is time off from church. For fully a quarter of the year, New Englanders more or less clear the calendar of church activities, with plans to come back full of energy come Rally Day in the fall.
Maybe it really used to work for us. Like those who see us from an outsider’s perspective, however, I do shake my head in wonder. I haven’t seen Rally Day live up to its billing in a very long time. Instead, the church often limps along from Pentecost Sunday until after the Big E, which means the summer lull effectively stretches into October.
There are those who work hard all that time to keep things going. We all know who they are. Thank God for them.
For all of us, I suppose, there is some gap between “the best we can do” and “the best we are willing to do.” Whatever our commitment looks like at this time of year, we can all benefit from something God offers all year long – a deep breath.
It may be no coincidence, after all, that the words for breath, wind, and spirit – three seemingly different things in English – are all the same word in the languages of the Bible – both Hebrew and Greek. When Genesis tells us that “the Spirit of God was moving over the water” in the beginning, it can also be translated as saying that “A mighty wind” moved over the water, or that God’s breath moved over the water. When John’s Gospel (4:24) tells us “God is Spirit,” it could also say that God is breath. It’s all the same word and the ideas overlap entirely.
So, this summer, whatever we are doing – holding the fort, taking a break, leaning in, or zoning out - we all need to take time for a deep breath – a breath that in fact is God’s spirit cleansing and renewing our souls.
And as Kenny Vaughan so memorably put it, “Don’t leave home without Jesus.”
See you in church?