Breath

Week six of our Lent Resource

The name of God matches the sound of our first breath. 

Y H W H  

The consonants of this ancient Hebrew word echo the sound of breathing. When Moses first asked to hear the personal name of God, he discovered that it might have been a name he had been speaking all along. A name so holy, yet so intrinsically part of being human that it was there without him even knowing it.  

Humanity has spoken this name since the beginning, where God shaped us out of the earth and placed His breath in our lungs. 

We have life because God first breathed into us. Every in and out, in and out, we are living in rhythm of sacred dependence upon our creator; the one in whom we live and move and have our being.  

This week we are reflecting on what it means to rely on God for our very breath, and how in a time of breathlessness we can trust Him to bring us life.  

Ezekiel 37: 1-14

The valley of dry bones

37 The hand of the LORD was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me to and fro among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’

I said, ‘Sovereign LORD, you alone know.’

4 Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, “Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.”’

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

9 Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.”’ 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.” 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.”’

Reflect

In this passage we read about a pretty extraordinary vision; scattered bones being drawn back together, flesh appearing out of thin air and finally the breath of God transforming skeletons into living men and women.

This metaphor is God’s promise for a people who are feeling dried up, cut off and have lost hope. He transforms isolation and shadow into life full and bright with His presence.

As you listen to this song reflect on where you might be needing the spirit of God to bring you back to life. Invite the Holy Spirit to breathe healing and transformation in those places that feel dead and dry.

Song – Breath by The Brilliance:

Prayer

Sometimes it can be helpful to combine a physical and spiritual response when we pray. ‘Breathing Prayers’ have been part of the Christian tradition for hundreds of years and are rooted in the knowledge that God gave us his breath of life in the beginning.

The physical act of measuring our breath reminds us of how deeply connected we are to our creator as well as slowing us down and helping us rest.

Breathe in / Breathe out

Feel the steadiness of the ground beneath your feet

Breathe in / Breathe out.

Scan your body, noticing any aches and pains. The anxiety that makes your shoulders tense, the responsibilities that make your back weary. Perhaps there is strain from the things you haven’t done, or tightness from the uncertainty of things to come. Perhaps your feet are just tired and sore from persevering.

Recognise all these things, feel the weight of them, and invite the Holy Spirit to wash over you.

From the top of your head to the tips of your toes

Let it all fall away

Let it all fall away.

Breathe in / Breathe out

Let the ebb and flow of your breath push away any thoughts that try to steal your attention

Breathe in / Breathe out

Inhale ‘my soul finds rest’

Exhale ‘in Christ alone’

Inhale ‘my soul finds rest’

Exhale ‘in Christ alone’

With these next breaths try breathing in and out with these words, or use your own simple prayer or line of scripture.

Breathe in / Breathe out

Be still and know that I am God

Be still and know that I am

Be still and know

Be still

Be