After preaching on the wonderful John 20 text when Jesus offers powerful peace, I have been thinking of the church as a great pair of, well, lungs. It’s not a very glamorous metaphor for the church but apt, I think.
We live most of our lives in the world, at work and home. Tending to the tasks of daily living, navigating relationships across the generations, flexing our vocational muscles, tending to medical needs, buying groceries, chatting with neighbors in the driveway.
Life demands a lot from us: love, patience, energy (physical and psychic), time, money, discipline, forgiveness, courage. Just as our bodies and spirits need food, exercise and sleep, so do our bodies and spirits need spiritual food, exercise and peace. So we return to church, in person or online.
Like blood cells depleted of oxygen, we return for repletion, through worship and bible study, sharing our lives and praying together in the peace of Jesus. We are filled up like a drooping lily getting a good drink of water. Or like a great pair of lungs! Then we are sent, like blood cells, rich and red, filled with life-giving spiritual oxygen to continue our work as Jesus in the world, loving God and loving neighbor.
We are breathed in to a sacred worshipping community by the Spirit and breathed back out to the world by that same Spirit, carrying all that is peaceful, hopeful and forgiving. At least on our best days.
And being filled up, receiving the peace of Christ, helps us weather what feels like a constant sea of change. While things feel like they might be settling into a new normal, life as the church continues apace. We prepare to welcome a new staff member as we say goodbye to our beloved Parish Administrator Bob Eiselt who moves into a well-deserved retirement. (Life will certainly change for his wife, Deb!)
This month our high school (and college) students will graduate, and family rhythms will change dramatically. The earth will emerge from under the flooded waters of the St. Croix as we assess how both flood and late season wet snow brought new and unwelcome changes to our landscapes.
At the end of the month, we move our contemporary service to our drive-in location—a welcome change to some and less welcome to others. And the drive-in will look different as the sheeting on the screen framework will come down in our first deferred maintenance project of the comprehensive campaign. Will we like it? Will it feel the same?
Some of you are weathering significant changes of your own, births and deaths, marriages and divorces, new employment and unemployment, diagnosis and recovery. And it can be a blip on the radar and it can threaten to overwhelm.
When we feel overwhelmed a common piece of advice is to just breathe. So, church, let’s breathe. Let’s gather and send, worship and serve, gather and send, pray and work, gather and send—filling us up and sending us out. Knowing that all that is life giving is of God. And that we are God’s life-giving breath for the world.
In that powerful peace,