In Genesis, when God creates man, God does so by breathing into a clump of dirt. What was once lifeless was animated with the divine breath of God, and new life was created.
In John 5, Jesus heals a lame man on the Sabbath, breaking the Mosaic law, and is questioned by the religious authorities. Jesus responded by saying, "Just as the Father breaths life into dead men's bones, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes."
This is what God does. He breaths life into the dead.
This past Sunday at Forefront Manhattan we participated in communion together like we always do, but we added a different element to the experience. At the front of the stage we had a six foot dead tree, and on each side of the tree we had tables covered in paper tags. Before everyone came forward to participate in communion, we encouraged the congregation to meditate on an area of their lives that has become dead. Passions that had grown cold, relationships that had fallen away, zeal for God that had become stale, and hearts that were once full that have been emptied by seasons of tragedy and suffering, were all things that came to mind as I led the communion meditation. The congregation was asked to come forward and think about the death in their lives as they ate the bread and drank the wine of communion, and then to write down some words to describe that death on a tag and hang it on the dead tree. Our communal prayer was for God to breath new life into each of the things written on those tags.
I was so moved as nearly everyone in the room filed toward the tables and confessed the areas of spiritual death in their lives and hang the tags on the tree. Each tag representing a leaf of new life. By the end of the song that the band was playing, the once baron tree was full of new leaves.
This is what God does. God breathes new life into the dead.
During this Together in This campaign I feel like something unexpected is happening. I'd be lying if I didn't say that this whole experience has been scary. Anytime you are faced with financial insecurity, you are also faced with the finitude of all things. But that is exactly why I'm so hopeful for our church, because we are becoming aware of where we need God to breath new life into our bones. As we acknowledge our financial shortcomings, our eyes are directed to the God that does the impossible. The God that raises the dead, and reanimates the soul.
We are not only together in the financial goals of this campaign, we are together in the movement of God that overcomes death.
I was watching the movie The Iron Giant the other day with my daughter, and the little boy in the movie says to the Iron Giant, "It's bad to kill, but it isn't bad to die." I love that line because it rings truest at the communion table. When we gaze upon the cross of Jesus' death, we are reminded of the empty tomb of Jesus' new life. When we approach God with the death in our lives, God does what God always does. God breaths the breath of new life.
God is breathing new life into our church through this Together in This experience, not only financially, but even more importantly God is breathing life into our spirits. That is something to be thankful for. That is why I #LoveForefront.