Today I preached about Thomas, how he is so much like us--doubting and believing at the same time--and how he, of all the people Jesus encountered, acknowledged who he was when he said, "My Lord and my GOD!"
I was going to try to recreate that sermon here but instead found one I did 8 years ago to share instead. Today I did talk about how intimate and lovely it was that 'Jesus breathed on them'.
Here it is.
EASTER II, 2009
OK, let’s get this straight—the doors were locked and Jesus just showed up. That’s weird enough, nevermind that he had been dead and wasn’t dead anymore. Already we have two confounding facts that have to make us re-think what we are convinced ‘reality’ is about.
That’s what the season of Easter is for, afterall—to make us reconsider the nature of ‘reality’.
But let’s leave the ‘reality’ bending and altering events for another time. Let’s concentrate on what Jesus ‘did’ in that far-away, long-ago upper room.
He breathed on them.
That’s what John tells us and what we are left to wrestle with—after showing up unexpectedly in a locked room, this man who everyone knew was dead, “breathed on them”.
Let’s do an experiment. Let’s notice, for a few moments, that we are breathing……
Try counting your breaths—up to four and then count up to four again….
Astonishing, isn’t it? We just breathe—or, perhaps more accurately, breath breathes us….We don’t have to think about it most of the time, it just happens—when you’re not paying attention, when you sleep, always—your breath breathes you.
And Jesus ‘breathed’ on them….Just like that….He must have leaned in close and let them feel his breath. What an intimate moment. How often do we get to ‘feel’ the breath of another on our skin? We feel it with babies and small children, certainly, holding them near; with lovers and partners from time to time; with people in hospital beds, straining for breath when we lean in close to kiss them and say good-bye, that we’re going home for the night or that we know their last breath is near.
My God…I mean that literally, “My God, what a gift to have that polite distance between us at all times violated so we might feel the breath, the very ‘life’ of another on our faces.
I toyed with the idea of having you ‘breathe on’ the person beside you or near you…but that would be so uncomfortable, so awkward, so embarrassing to us because we value the space between us and other people. That’s really ok. I pull back when people get in my personal space.
And, there is this: there is no “personal” space with God. God is right against us, all around us, ever close to us. Breathing on us….Breathing on us….Breathing on us….
There is a hymn that invites that holy and astonishing intimacy with God.
Hymn 508….”Breathe on me breath of God,/fill me with Life anew/
That I might love what thou dost love,/and do what thou wouldst do.
Breathe on me breath of God/until my heart is pure,
Until with thee I will one will, to do or to endure.
Breathe on my breath of God/until I am wholly thine/
Until this earthly part of me/breathes with thy fire divine.
Breathe on me breath of God,/so shall I never die,’
But live with thee the perfect life/of thy eternity.”
That is our legacy, our inheritance, our indescribable intimacy with God. That is what we give to these children today. Marked as Christ’s own forever.
When you breathe, remember this, God is breathing on you as well…..