From the District Superintendent

Breathe in the Spirit's Power

Posted 15 May, 2017 by Rev. Kathleen Overby Webster

Breathe ... Breathe in through your nose and breatheout through your mouth  ... breathe ... breathe ... These are the words the nurse spoke to me as she prepared to give me a tetanus vaccine. A few days later, the prayer leader invited all worshipers to breathe ... breathe in the presence of Christ ... exhale the peace of Christ ... breathe ... 

Breathe ... We, of course, are in the midst of the great 50 days of Easter, when we are continually surprised by the appearance of the resurrected Christ, no longer dead, really alive, but resurrected not resuscitated, a new body bearing scars of what was, a new commission to go hand in hand with a new commandment. In these fifty days we wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which will come as mighty wind and flame, and enliven bold commitment from the scared band of Jesus followers ... breathe ...  

Breathe ... As we review the Judicial Council ruling and responses to it (from bishops, theologians, pastors, and lay leaders, from those here in the US and those half-way around the globe, from those who identify as standing on the right and on the left), as the date for the called 2019 General Conference is set, and as the work of the Commission on A Way Forward continues ... breathe ... 

Breathe ... As Pentecost approaches and we feel caught between the tension and the hope of it ... Breathe ... I am reminded of what Thomas Long said in his sermon "What's the Gift":

There is something weighty and heavy in the life of the church. I mean, if we're not talking about the stewardship program and how to balance the budget in these perilous economic times, we're talking about renovating the building, or trying to figure out what dynamic faithful worship looks and feels and sounds like. And when we aren't bound up in those little disputes, we're trying to face staggering problems in the world like war and poverty and human sexuality. And it begins to weigh us down.

But wait a minute. Have you ever noticed where this story of Pentecost is positioned in the book of Acts? It's sandwiched in between two other stories. On one side is the story of the selection of an apostle to replace Judas. And on the other side is a story about the early church breaking bread, attending to the teachings of the apostles and trying to take care of the poor among their midst.

In other words, the story of Pentecost is positioned right between the elections of officers and struggling over programs of Christian education, worship, and service. Right between institution and mission. And whatever it is that we're given on Pentecost, it doesn't lift us out and up over these earthbound realities. It drives us more deeply in.

So ... Breathe in the Spirit's power, as you bear witness by word and deed to the peace of Christ in this earthbound world. ... Breathe.