Tag Archives: breath

Come, Holy Spirit!

“Come, Holy Spirit!”

Acts 2-3 pentecost

Acts 2:1-4 (2:4) – May 31, 2020

My parents grew up in the 1920’s and 1930’s. That was the golden age of radio. When I was young, my mother used to tell me about radio serials she used to follow. Serials like the Lone Ranger, Little Orphan Annie, Buck Rogers, and the Cinnamon Bear. I know many people all across the country followed these programs closely every week, and listened to even more.

I think of our friends, the followers of Jesus on that hilltop. Like in the radio serials, when last we left our intrepid heroes, we saw them with heads toward the sky. They watched the risen Lord Jesus ascend into heaven. Fast forward to this week. Thank you, Levi, for reading our Scripture from chapter 2 of Acts.

Only a few days have passed since that miraculous happening. Jesus disappeared into heaven. Yes, Jesus gave His followers their orders. Marching orders! But—where are the disciples now? What are they doing? Are they fearlessly marching out into Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the world? Come on, guys! What gives? What’s the matter? The followers of Jesus—both men and women—are waiting for something; something that Jesus foretold, something big that had not happened yet. Everyone was together in one place—waiting.

At least they all were in Jerusalem. After all, another religious festival was right around the corner. Fifty days after the Feast of Unleavened Bread (or Passover) the Festival of First Fruits, or First Harvest was celebrated. This festive day was also a glad ceremony in the Temple, and many Jews from hundreds of miles around were in Jerusalem to celebrate.

At least the Jews did not have a pandemic to worry about. No, Jerusalem and the surrounding area were packed with visitors ready to celebrate at the special worship services at the Temple, ex-pat Jews from all across the known world at that time.

And, where were the followers of Jesus? Up in that upper room, presumedly the same room where Jesus and the disciples had celebrated that Passover dinner the night before Jesus was crucified. They were there, but yes, they were shut away. Presumedly behind locked doors, for fear of what the authorities might do to them, even weeks after the crucifixion of their leader, the Rabbi Jesus. Or, is that the Messiah Jesus? Or, the risen, ascended Jesus?

The disciples of Jesus were all gathered together in one place. When, on that Harvest Festival morning, a noise like the rush of a mighty wind blew through that upper room. Apparently, it was loud enough—surprising enough—so that people on the street heard it, too!

The Holy Spirit came with full sound effects, with heavenly flames over each head and I suspect with some kind of noise, music or something that caught everyone’s attention for some distance. After the energizing of the Holy Spirit, the followers of Jesus couldn’t help themselves. They spilled out into the street, and started speaking other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them knowledge and utterance. Surprising? Amazing? Miraculous? Yes to all three!

I think the Holy Spirit moved mightily upon the disciples, and the very breath of the risen Jesus was felt by many—on that day of Pentecost, through the centuries, and to the present day.

The disciples of Jesus were all gathered together in one place. I envy them.

Because of the pandemic and the shelter-in-place order I have not been able to gather together with a number of other believers for almost three months. And, neither have you.

Sure, we have had online worship, Zoom bible studies and prayer meetings, and telephone conversations. Perhaps individual Christians have met each other in the neighborhood, taking their dogs for a walk or running into each other at the grocery store. We remain socially-distant, to be safe and caring for others who are elderly or in fragile health—but it is not the same as in-person worship, IRL. Not the same, at all.

However—do we depend on a structure, a building, a tall steeple to witness to the Resurrection? Or, is the Church something more, something much bigger than this building?

The COVID-19 pandemic did not surprise God. I am not here to tell you this is a judgement of God upon the earth, or upon one group of people or another. I do not believe a good, gracious, loving God works that way. But—I want to suggest something else. Is it possible that we, as followers of Jesus, can also serve God by being separate, socially-distant, apart and still caring for one another? Can we follow the final instructions of our Lord that He gave just before He ascended, to go to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth?

The newly-energized disciples spread the Good News of Jesus and His Resurrection, and of God’s reconciliation. Boy, did the Good News travel! The authorities in and around Jerusalem got seriously worried, so upset that they eventually started to crack down on anyone who called themselves a follower of the risen Jesus. The disciples needed to move out from Jerusalem, and started taking the message of the Good News out to the ends of the earth.

God did a new thing at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came with power! I wonder if God is doing a new thing now, today? It’s possible that “God will use such a time as this to blow new life through and among and into and upon us. For our own sakes, yes. But even more so for the sake of those to whom we are sent.” [1]

We, the Church, are on assignment—out among the people God wants us to minister to. Feeding the hungry, comforting the afflicted, welcoming the stranger, taking care of the least of these. We can all tell people about the Good News—the wonderful news of God’s reconciliation and healing. Alleluia, amen!

[1] http://dancingwiththeword.com/all-together-in-one-place/


(Suggestion: visit me at my regular blog for 2020: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. #PursuePEACE – and my other blog,  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks!

See Clearly in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, February 17, 2017


See Clearly in Prayer

What a timely reading tonight. The idea that meditation can be seen as a step-by-step procedure makes a lot of sense.

First, concentrate on the breath. Breathe, in and out, Slow down the breath, and relax. The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh assures us if the breath slows and deepens, then we are ready to begin soothing our mind and body.

This does not happen to me all the time, or even most of the time, but I will say that some of the time this calming and soothing happens to me. I do feel more peaceful and relaxed. Then, the idea of seeing clearly is much more possible.

Seeing clearly is so important to dealing fairly with others. (It doesn’t matter “who” the other is.) I want to deal fairly with others. (Most of the time.) Then, as the Buddhist teacher tells his readers, true happiness is within our reach. For certain.

Dear God, thank You for this step-by-step way of breathing, of taking in oxygen in a way that calms my nerves and soothes body and soul. May it continue!


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Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

A Celebration of Life and Breath

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, January 16, 2017

A Celebration of Life and Breath

Breathe. That’s right, feel your breath flowing in and out of your lungs. Intentional, mindful. Now, breathe more deeply. Slowly. In and out. Be exquisitely aware of each breath in, and each breath out.

You got all that? You—I—we all are celebrating being alive as we become mindful and aware of each breath we take. What a marvelous gift from God.

As I read another short section in the slim book How to Sit, by Thich Nhat Hanh, I came across a significant insight. (Or, if you choose, it’s the most obvious statement.) He says: “If you are breathing mindfully in and out, you already have insight.” [1]

When I sit and meditate, take my time and pray, I have the opportunity to deepen and slow my breathing. I can take the time to relax my muscles, loosen the tension in my neck, shoulders and spine, and become quiet. Restful. Mindful.

Dear God, is this what You want me to do, right now? Rest in You, I mean. Rest, and praise, and be thankful. Amen.



Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 29.

Sitting in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, January 2, 2017


Sitting in Prayer

While out of town a few days ago, I visited a bookstore. I picked up several books, including a slim volume called “How to Sit” by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk.

I practice yoga at least once a week, usually twice, and three times a week, when I can. This is so beneficial for me! I don’t follow the whole spiritual aspect, but I very much appreciate the focus and mindfulness part of yoga.

This reminds me: I tried to practice Centering Prayer in 2015, for a whole month, with fair-to-middling results. For those who do not know or are not as familiar, Centering Prayer involves simply being quiet before God. Centering one’s physical, spiritual and emotional selves. Some people choose a word or brief phrase to assist them in centering. Alas, I did not excel. (Far from it.) However, I tried my best—most of the time.

This new slim volume convinced me that I ought to try to sit and center again. So, I did. And, I will try again, for the next month.

Similar to when I practice yoga, my breath slowed. My mind cleared. I expressed a welcome to God, but not really in so many words. (Just a welcoming feeling.) I did not pray in words, as I do so often. (I am so dependent on words.) Yet, my prayer time was restful and quiet.

Just what I needed. Thank You, God.



Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er