One way to understand who we are and how God is at work in and among us is through exploring our Spiritual Gifts. We all have them. They are God-given, Spirit endowed gifts. When the Spirit is at work in us there is holy fire burning, there is excitement. When the Spirit is at work through us, there is the breath of fresh air that is God blowing in and among us.
In the Hebrew scriptures spirit and breath are the same word, ruach. In the New Testament, the writers depict the Spirit as pneuma (Greek) meaning wind or breath. What wonder there is that the holy breath of God is breathing in, on, and through me. That means there is life in me that cannot be quenched by physical breath.
Perhaps right now I am a little more open to understanding this holy breath. Asthma has a way of taking your breath away in a not so pleasant fashion. Stop for a minute and simple pay attention to your breath. Notice the breath that is life giving. The mystics prayed breath prayers, simply meaning they would breathe in and as they exhaled, they would pray a simple prayer like:
Holy Spirit, fill me.
Give me strength, O Christ.
Father, show me your love.
Teach me patience, gracious God.
My God and my All. (Saint Francis)
Come, Lord Jesus!
The Breath Prayer is a way to remind us that the Spirit is alive in us, working through the gifts God has bestowed upon us. Spiritual gifts breathing through us, guiding us on the path of discipleship. Spiritual gifts are the breath of God in each one of us.
Admittedly, the talk of Spiritual Gifts can be difficult. It exposes us to who we are and invites us to respond. Perhaps it makes us a little more vulnerable to being used by God for God’s purposes. Perhaps if we know how God has gifted us we might be called to action. I find strength knowing it is God’s breath that will sustain me to serve God’s purposes.
As we walk the path of discipleship, we are to reach out and receive people in the name of Christ, help relate people to God, nurture and strengthen people in their faith and send people forth to live transformed lives. I wonder how our ministries embody this four-fold process of discipleship? I wonder what might happen if we claimed our gifts, understood who we are and whose we are, and then lived out our gifts in ministry? How then, might we chart the course for the church and the community God has called us to serve?
Take a moment and breathe in the breath of God. Remind yourself the Spirit is at work in and through you, a gifted child of God. Give thanks for the breath of God in all you encounter through the church, our community, and the world in which we live.