June 8, 2014 A View from the Rectory Window

Because my office in the rectory is below ground level, I confess that sometimes the view from my rectory office is not always the stuff of poetry. At the same time, I am grateful that many times in my life I have experienced views that have ‘taken my breath away.’ These moments have often occurred in the most unexpected times and places. For example, I remember moments standing just outside the ‘rectory window’ and being silenced by either a sunrise or sunset, or by the act of compassion that I saw someone show another.

For we all know that sometimes these moments are less about a place. How often have you had the breath taken out of you when you received news that was unexpected and unexpectedly sorrowful? I believe that we have all known these times — terrible grief, overwhelming fear, and shocking news – which seemingly take our breath away. I am reminded of the image in Sacred Scripture when the prophet Ezekiel looked out over the desert and saw only dead, dry bones. It is an image of complete and utter hopelessness and despair that perhaps you too may have felt. You feel as though your breath has been knocked right out of you.

I believe these experiences ‘speak’ to the Feast of Pentecost that our Church celebrates this Sunday. This Sunday we recognize that Pentecost is a birth story, or better said, a re-birth story. And like so many birth stories in the Bible, God brings life, new life, into the world, into us, with breath. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word for the Spirit of God is Ruah, which means either breath or wind. In the New Testament, the word is Pneuma, meaning breath or wind or, in most cases, spirit. Wind, breath, spirit – in the Bible all these images recall the power of God to bring life even in the most unexpected places.

In the first creation story in the Book of Genesis, a wind from God moved across the face of chaos and brought order and life. The ‘wind, or breath, or spirit’ of God brought life and order to all of creation.

In the second story of creation, when the human body lay lifeless, God breathed into its nostrils and brought Adam, or humanity, into being. God’s ‘wind, or breath, or spirit’ brought life to all humanity.

If we skip over to Job, the suffering one whose only request is an audience with God — and God speaks to Job, how? Out of the ‘wind,’ God speaks about things the human mind simply cannot comprehend; the birth of wisdom.

And Pentecost, the risen Christ leaving his followers with a promise: they would not be left to their own devises but would receive power from the Holy Spirit. And, how did that Spirit of God’s power make itself known? A sound like the rush of a mighty ‘wind’, God’s ‘breath’ blowing into His followers the power of new life and hope. This is the power of Pentecost offered to us

Yes, sometimes we have had and will have moments that will take our breath away, but we are assured that in these, and in fact every moment, we can know the fullness of life if we but breathe in the spirit of God offered us.

Peace,

Fr. Pete