Sunday, September 26, 2010

Breath of God

When someone asked me if I’d talk about some verses from the Bible that lead me to greater worship, I first thought of some passages from the Chronicles of Narnia, some favorite books of mine.

The first image that came to mind was one of floating on the breath of Aslan. Most of you have probably heard of Aslan, he’s the God figure in the Chronicles. He’s a lion. There are many places in the Narnia stories where Aslan’s breath gives life or strength to the characters. One that I love is when Aslan breathes on the characters that were turned to stone statues by the Ice Queen. Here is a description of a stone lion coming to life:
"Hush," said Susan, "Aslan's doing something." He was indeed. He had bounded up to the stone lion and breathed on him. ... I expect you've seen someone put a lighted match to a bit of newspaper which is propped up in a grate against an unlit fire. And for a second nothing seems to have happened, and then you notice a tiny streak of flame creeping along the edge of the newspaper. It was like that now. For a second after Aslan had breathed upon him the stone had breathed upon him the stone lion looked just the same. Then a tiny streak of gold began to run along his white marble back -- then it seemed to lick all over him as the flame licks all over a bit of paper -- then, while his hindquarters were still obviously stone the lion shook his mane and all the hearvy, stony folds rippled into living hear...And now his hind legs came to life. Then,.. he went bounding after Aslan and frisking round him whimpering with delight and jumping up to lick his face.
It’s too long to quote but there’s a beautiful description of Jill floating on Aslan’s breath in one of the Chronicles. She at first is a little frightened when she realizes she’s so high up in the air. But then she relaxes and lays back and enjoys the float.

So what do these stories of God’s breath have to do with worship? That breath of God, his Holy Spirit, is what makes worship happen. As we worship, the Spirit of God is hovering over us. God breathes life into us. As we sing and pray, it’s like we’re floating on Aslan’s breath as Jill did. Just as that stone lion came to life like flame on a bit of newspaper, our worship softens our hearts and frees us to join in worship.

A few more quotes:
The Lion drew a deep breath, stooped its head even lower and gave him a Lion's kiss. And at once Digory felt that new strength and courage had gone into him.
As soon as the Lion's breath came about him, a new look came into the man's eyes -- startled, but not unhappy -- as if he were trying to remember something. Then he squared his shoulders and walked through the Door.
Quotes from the Bible:

Genesis 2:7
the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Genesis 1:1-2
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Genesis 2:7
the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
A hymn:

Breathe on Me, Breath of God
Text: Edwin Hatch, 1835-1889
1. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
fill me with life anew,
that I may love what thou dost love,
and do what thou wouldst do
2. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
until my heart is pure,
until with thee I will one will,
to do and to endure.
3. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
till I am wholly thine,
till all this earthly part of me
glows with thy fire divine.
4. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
so shall I never die,
but live with thee the perfect life
of thine eternity.
Today when we sang at church, I noticed as the entire congregation seemed to stop at certain points in our singing and take a breath. It made me smile.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Being who you are instead of who you think you should be

I heard an interview today on NPR (Fresh Air) and the person being interviewed has been a paraplegic for 20 years -- he's 56. He was in a car accident and broke his neck. He said that once he had that accident and came so near to death, plus he knows that his life will be shortened, he realized he was going to be who he was and not what he thought he should be.

He talked about how he thought he should be a successful business person and the perfect father and that kind of thing. He has done fine with his life and all that but he says he spends more time on things that are important to him than on things others might think are important.

The idea of spending time on things that are important to you is something I resolve to do often. It's why I've started this and my other blogs, for example. I want to spend more time reading and writing than watching t.v.. The thing I think about, though, is what it means to be the person I am in other ways. You can't just follow all your own impulses. You should think before speaking, discern what is the best action to take and so on. It's a balance between squelching what comes naturally and being true to yourself.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

power of prayer

I've been thinking about the power of prayer lately. Once I read about a group who supported a man going through surgery by having him wear a pager and each time someone prayed for him, they'd page his pager so he'd get a notice of each prayer. I can see where that would be a powerful help. Even when you don't physically get notified that others are praying for you, it does make a big difference knowing.

And the act of praying is a powerful help to me. Saying or writing what's in my heart, and imagining that God who loves me in a most incredible way is listening is awesome.

Yet I wonder about it, too. When I pray for someone, does it really matter? If they don't know I'm praying for them, it can't make a difference to them in the way it does when you know. I guess it still is a help to me. I am comforted knowing that God has heard my prayers for that person and, I hope, will guide what happens to that person.

But I have to believe there's more than that. That prayer has a power regardless of my feelings or the person's knowing. I want to believe that. Most of the time I do believe that.