WEEK FOUR: REFRESHMENT
Romans 12:11 (NRSV)
Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Has this happened to you? There have been times when I have attended a retreat, or enjoyed a restful vacation, or walked in nature, or experienced a meaningful study, worship or prayer time. I have this “mountaintop” moment and come away feeling fired up for God! I am ready to serve, filled with joy, close to God- and so alive in the Spirit!
But then the routine begins. Life becomes busy. I become distracted. Unexpected trials come. And soon, that feeling of euphoria and delight has diminished, now merely a memory of a wonderful moment. Paul’s words to us, “Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in the Spirit” feel less like an invitation and more like a burden. I miss that exuberant, thrilled, and expectant feeling. My faith becomes more of a boring background rather than an anticipated adventure.
Our word for today is Revive. Revive means to resuscitate or recover, but also means to revitalize and refresh. How might we keep our faith alive despite our everyday routines and obstacles? How do we revive our souls when the world has smothered them?
As we think about reviving, CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) may come to mind. To keep a dying person alive, the person administering the CPR is breathing for them. The helper’s breath is keeping the other alive. In the creation story, life began with God’s CPR:
…then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. ~Genesis 2:7 (NRSV)
And then there is the breath or wind of the Spirit that moved through the disciples and now moves through us. Consider too, that when we are bored, our breathing slows and becomes shallower. What do we do? We yawn! This deep breath restores oxygen to our blood and helps energize us. These examples suggest that our souls and faith can be revitalized and revived by taking in deep breaths of God; breaths of the Spirit!
In fact, you may already know that the word, “enthusiasm” is derived from two Greek words, en and theos. Theos is the Greek word for God. Enthusiasm means, “full of God.” God’s breath, fully in us, creates our enthusiasm- our zeal!
So for our refreshment today we will be practicing a breath prayer. Today’s practice is shared by Rev. Betsey Heavner:*
Breath Prayer takes the continuous and mechanical motions of our breathing and incorporates words of prayer to create an act that is useful, especially whenever our normal prayer lives are interrupted. In fact, this prayer pattern offers remedies for our anxious minds and bodies on two fronts: we call upon God’s attention to our need, while at the same time, we calm our bodies with the rhythm of breathing.
A helpful way to become centered and focused
Breathe out doubt; breathe in assurance
Breathe out worry; breathe in peace of mind
Breathe out hatred; breathe in love
Breathe out war; breathe in peace
Breathe out turmoil; breathe in harmony
Breathe out insecurity; breathe in God’s presence
Breathe out emptiness; breathe in fulfillment
Breathe out selfishness; breathe in generosity
Breathe out darkness; breathe in God’s everlasting light
(Breathe out mediocrity; breathe in zeal!)
May the peace, joy and love of God, through the breath of the Spirit, revive your soul into new enthusiasm, ardor and zeal!