Pentecost: A New Song
By Cary J. Youmans
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit. Joel 2:28, 29
Pentecost is one of my favorite feast days. It is rightly called the birthday of the church, but I view it more as the culmination of Jesus' ministry; the end of which Jesus' death and resurrection is the means. On that first Pentecost after the Resurrection, God resumed God's habitation among humanity, and is immediately present and accessible to anyone who asks, seeks, and knocks. God is now Immanuel in perpetuity.
Most of you reading this are well aware that the word translated "spirit" is the word for "breath" in the original biblical languages; that it was God's spirit/breath that moved over the waters at creation, and it was God's breath/spirit breathed into humanity that made us living souls. If you haven't yet, be sure to view Pastor Emily's Pentecost Sunday message for a poignant and eloquent description of the significance of breath/breathing is scripture. One statement in that message especially stood out to me. "Followers of Jesus will be defined by nothing other than the very Breath of God."
Having some experience with Church Music and singing, breath/breathing has a particular significance. It should for all God's people, since we all have a "new song." Psalm 40 (my favorite) begins,
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
Singing is dependent upon breath. Good singing is directly proportional to good breathing. As I tell the choir, the powerhouse of good singing is the diaphragm and having an unrestricted, well-supported breath. The vocal chords, lips, teeth and tongue take the raw energy of the breath and make it something beautiful and potentially trans-formative. In much the same way, the New Song God puts in our mouth is dependent on the raw energy of the Spirit, which our thoughts, words and actions make into something beautiful and trans-formative.
My favorite fictional image of the transforming power of God's breath is in C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." After the Great Lion Aslan resurrects, he goes to the castle of the White Witch. There, he liberates all the victims the White Witch has turned to stone by breathing on them. Asaln's breath restores the stone to living. breathing flesh.
May we each see ourselves as restored to living, breathing flesh by God's Spirit. May we all seek God's Living Breath during this prolonged season breath impairment. May we seek to know the lyrics and melody of the New Song God has put in our mouths, whatever form they may be, and proclaim God's New Song boldly to the beautification and transformation of the world.
This blog is run by the council members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan, UT. For more information, check out our church's website at princeopeace.org.