Posted by: rachelbr86 | March 15, 2011

Power of Breath to Unite Community

Our 2011 Earth Day resource is about community, and the very air we breathe has the power to unite all of God’s creation.

Let us consider Genesis 1:7, and the first breathe of creation:

“7then 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.”

It was through breath that humans first received life from God. And in John 20:22-23,  Jesus, in a similar way, through breath, passed on the Holy Spirit to the disciples.

“When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

When we speak of the Holy Spirit in our world, one of the ways this dialogue occurs is to talk about our interconnectedness with our sisters and brothers of the planet.  The Holy Spirit is a living space that all beings are a part of, as the breath of life fills us and works through us.  Many times humans tend to forget that the interconnectedness in Christ is for ALL creation. The air, the breathe of the Lord can unite us.

According to Jewish tradition, the name of God cannot be spoken, but it can be breathed. A correct pronunciation of YHWH in Hebrew imitates the sound of inhalation and exhalation. [i] Realizing that God’s name sounds like breath unites us with the world and with God in the action of breathing. There is no division between any elements of creation when we breathe. If God’s name is said perfectly pronounced as the sound of breath, than the first and last word you will ever speak is the name of God.  This is true for all of creation.

When Jesus breathes the Spirit on the disciples in John 20, a new community and a new creation is coming into being, inspired—breathed together—by the breath of God. The Hebrew word for God’s spirit, “ruach” is the same word as wind and breath. The Spirit of God present in creation (Genesis 1:2) and the wind at Pentecost blowing through to create a new church are the breath of God’s new creation. [ii]Breath is a fundamental life force of creation. As humans breathe out for life, plants breathe in.  The Air we breathe should be cared for by our communities, since it unites everything that breaths.  Air is the common element between people, plants, animals, and God.  When air is viewed as an element of community, the very act of breathing and protecting the air we breathe becomes a spiritual and moral action, and perhaps obligation.

Lent is a time to look inward, and re-examine our lives. Ask yourself:

How can your church, brought into being by the breath of the Spirit, care for the breath of all creation? How can you be in community with all creation?

These questions about our community air are essential as we look toward a new congressional season and our need to pass a new (or re-newed) Clean Air Act. These questions are essential as we just…breathe.

Find out more about air and our interconnectedness in our 2011 Earth Day resource: Where Two or More are Gathered: Eco-Justice as Community.

[i] Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, A Worldly Spirituality: The Call to Redeem Life on Earth (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1984), 140-141.

[ii] Father Richard Rohr, “The Yahweh Prayer” sermon preached at Drew Seminary  Worship: Service of Word & Table Thursday, October 21, 2010.!/video/video.php?v=493563175069


This is the third entry in a Lenten Blog series based on our 2011 Earth Day Sunday resource “Where Two or More are Gathered: Eco-Justice as Community.”

If you want to keep following our blog and other happenings with the NCC Eco-Justice programs, “like” us on facebook.


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