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Sunday June 7, 2020

In these times of stress and uncertainty, let us come together in spirit, choosing to care for each other and ourselves
through prayer, contemplation, and thoughtful, carefully chosen action— one day at a time.

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Theme for Today:  Breath

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Inspirational Quotes:

The importance of breathing need hardly be stressed. It provides the oxygen for the metabolic processes; literally it supports the fires of life. But breath as “pneuma” is also the spirit or soul. We live in an ocean of air like fish in a body of water. By our breathing we are attuned to our atmosphere. If we inhibit our breathing, we isolate ourselves from the medium in which we exist. In all Oriental and mystic philosophies, the breath holds the secret to the highest bliss.” ― Alexander Lowen

“At this moment, you are seamlessly flowing with the cosmos. There is no difference between your breathing and the breathing of the rain forest, between your bloodstream and the world’s rivers, between your bones and the chalk cliffs of Dover.” ― Deepak Chopra

“We too should make ourselves empty, that the great soul of the universe may fill us with its breath.” ― Lawrence Binyon

“When life is foggy, path is unclear and mind is dull, remember your breath. It has the power to give you the peace. It has the power to resolve the unsolved equations of life.” ― Amit Ray

“If something negative comes to the surface, such as your despair and anger, or the despair and anger of your spouse, you need the energy of mindfulness to embrace it. Breathing in, I know that anger is there in me. Breathing out, I care for my anger. This is like a mother hearing her baby cry out. She is in the kitchen, and she hears her baby wailing. She puts down whatever she has in her hands, goes into the baby’s room, and picks it up in her arms. You can do exactly the same thing–embrace the pain that is coming to the surface. Breathing in, I know that you are there, my dear anger, my dear despair. I am there for you; I will take care of you.” ―  Thich Nhat Hanh

“One does not hold their breath and say that they are breathing; Just the same, One cannot advance in life and remain the same.” ― Gillian Duce

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Sacred Texts:

Job 32:8

But truly it is the spirit in a mortal,
the breath of the Almighty, that makes for understanding.

John 20:22

When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Job 33:4

The spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

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Prayer:

A Prayer during the COVID-19 Pandemic   by Norma P. Dollaga

Breathe on me, Breath of God
As we are mourning and grieving
The deaths of many people–
Young, old, and vulnerable ones.

Breathe on me, Breath of God
When we are anxious and scared
From a disease caused by a virus,
Unseen to our eyes yet occupying bodies.

Breathe on me, Breath of God
When we are angry and enraged
With a hostile policy that is anti-poor,
Leading the lowly into greater vulnerability.

Breathe on me, Breath of God
As we repent for our insensitivity
And privilege of having more
That led us to blend thoughts and perceptions
In a discourse of resilience and obedience to laws,
Now weaponized against our own people.

Awaken us to our connivance
with anti-poor policies.

Help us to see that
We benefit because we have means,
We are secure and privileged
Even with a semblance of a vacation.

Raise our awareness that
This lockdown in poor communities
Means suffering, hunger, and tears,
Even as we preach sacrifice for the benefit of all.

Breathe on me, Breath of God
As we pray for those who care for the sick and dying
And those who look for cures and scientific explanation.
Release us from ignorance and myths
that may proclaim what is factual and true.

Breathe on me, Breath of God
As we demand a medical approach to a health crisis,
As we clamor for free testing and health services for the ill,
As we assert a rights-based approach to this problem.

Breathe on me, Breath of God—
Spirit, Ruah, She Who Hovers Over,
The MOVEMENT THAT NEVERS EXPIRES,
Movement like the Wind
That cannot be locked down.

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Essay:

Giving Breath and Voice to Cries for Justice

by Bruce R. Ough
May 31, 2020

It is Pentecost Sunday, and the Twin Cities and America burn. It is the birthday of the Church, and the Twin Cities and America smolder with horror, anger, and righteous outrage at the killing of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. Tomorrow we enter the Season after Pentecost, and African Americans in the Twin Cities and across America are still gasping for breath.

As persons of faith, we are people of breath. God called us into being and created our shared humanity by breathing the breath of life into us. As followers of Jesus, we are people of rauch—the breath of God—that blew like a fierce wind and filled the disciples with the Holy Spirit. As Pentecost people, this same Spirit compels us (and will guide us, if we listen) to protect the breath of every child of God.

Dr. Martin Luther King astutely observed that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” Throughout our country’s history, subjugated, displaced, and unrepresented people have resorted to protests and riots to be heard and to compel national governments, state authorities, and community leaders to act. I do not want to be misunderstood. I am not advocating or justifying burning, looting, or anarchy. I am not advocating or justifying destroying the very businesses that provide the livelihood of and serve predominantly black and brown communities. I condemn the outside agitators and anarchists who are exploiting the situation and do not care for or honor the message intended by the protesters. I join the many faith leaders who are urging peaceful protests and honoring curfews designed to curtail senseless violence and destruction.

But I do want us, particularly those of us who are the beneficiaries of white privilege, to understand that our African American sisters and brothers are gasping for breath. For 400 years, through slavery, lynching, apartheid (Jim Crow), the civil rights movement, institutionalized racism, and long-delayed police reform, the African American community has been crying out, “I can’t breathe.” And yet, the knee of oppression, white supremacy, and inaction remains. If we see only riots and protests, we are not looking close enough. People of color and many others who have been left out and left behind are gasping for the oxygen of freedom. They are gasping for the oxygen of economic opportunity. They are gasping for the oxygen of equal justice.

I am convicted by the words of Edwin Hatch’s nineteenth century hymn (#420, The United Methodist Hymnal):

‘Breathe on me, breath of God, fill me with life anew,
that I may love what thou dost do, and do what those wouldst do.’

In this season of Pentecost, I pray that we will be a people filled with new life, loving as God loves and doing what God would have us do to make the kingdom in heaven come on earth. Let us join others of faith in giving breath and voice to the cries for justice. Let us join hands in cleaning our streets and making them safe and secure. Let us work, tirelessly and without delay, to change our culture of institutionalized racism to a culture of the Beloved Community. Let us not lapse into “normalcy,” but insist on reforming the culture of policing from one of waging war to one of being guardians of every person’s rights and dignity. Let us refute the purveyors of division and discrimination and embrace the peacemakers. Let us address the underlying sources of despair and broken trust that stoke the fires of rage and riot.

In this season of Pentecost, I urge us to continue to pray for the family of George Floyd and all those whose lives and livelihoods have been damaged by the burning and looting. Pray that the breath of God will fill us and our country with life anew. Pray that we will become the nation we claim to be and protect the breath of every citizen and sojourner. Pray that the breath of God will reign in our hearts, our churches, and our communities.

Bishop Bruce R. Ough, Resident Bishop, Dakotas-Minnesota Area The United Methodist Church

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Wishing you and your family grace and peace. Be well.

*Click HERE for the original link to the “breathing” banner from the environmental group: Every Breath Matters

Click HERE for a blog that discusses the use of “All ______ Matters” at this time in our culture’s struggle with racial injustice.