If you don’t breathe, you die. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. Yet, how often have I forgotten this simple fact until it is brought to light by some small event in my daily living.
Fresh off the covered wagon from many years in the Southern region of this beloved country, Wyoming has refreshed my childhood memories of living in Michigan and South Dakota. It was just yesterday that I ventured outside to pick up the newspaper off the front porch, and catching a glimpse of those magnificent Snowy Mountains, I also captured a sight that has gone invisible to me for much too long – my own breath. Crystallized in movement, my exhale wisped towards the heavens, reminding me of whence it came. For it is this very element that turned me from mud and carbon to life-filled brother of Christ:
“But a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground – then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Gen. 2:6-7)
But, this is how our Lord Christ always works in us – simply and without our thought and action. Just as He breathed life into us and we continually breathe without knowledge or on our own doing, Christ creates brothers and sisters with other very basic elements. Much like the water soaked the very mud that we were created from, the water once again soaks into our dusty foreheads upon baptism as new children in Christ are formed. Then, as we are named as such by the Pastor, whose breath crosses over vocal chords, Christ gives us His Word. Creation was transformed by the Word, and these same breathings that we hear drift across our eardrums each Sunday transforms us physically as well. We are truly created in Christ’s image. Furthermore, Christ enters our bodies physically through the Sacrament of Holy Communion, where He turns the basic elements of bread and wine into His very own blood and body, replacing our sinful interiors with His true sacrifice on wooden beams. It was on these very pieces of tree that Christ gave up not only His sin-free body and blood, but also willingly sacrificed that life-giving gift from His Father – His last breath:
“Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46)
One day we will all breathe our last breath, committing our spirits into the hands of our true creator. Yet in this day of initial fear, Christ will come to comfort us, grasping us in His hands once again, easing us with His beautiful words, robing us in His glorious white garments, and breathing a new inhale within us – an infinite creation of light and love: the everlasting breath of our Resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
James Greening is the Parish Secretary for Trinity Lutheran Church and a wannabe poet, artist, musician, and anything else that sounds interesting. He is made a better man by his wife, Kacey, and together they are always on the hunt for a new adventure in life.