Sunday was Pentecost, so I’ve been thinking a lot about power. Jesus told the disciples, “You will receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses.” For Jesus, the source of this power is the Holy Spirit.
The Greek and Hebrew word for “spirit” is the same word Jesus would have used for “wind” or “breath.” I want to ask you to experiment with me. Breathe in then breathe out completely and hold it. Now breathe in again. You have received power.
The Bible says that God breathed into humankind, and we became alive. If you are looking for God, or life, or power, you need not go far. Simply breathe. God is as close as your very breath. That may not seem like much, but I challenge you to go for five minutes without breathing and see what happens. You will discover, quite easily, from where your physical power or life comes. As the Bible puts it, “God, you recall your breath, and we become dust.” Maybe living awakened and empowered lives means something different than what we’ve always thought.
I know a woman who has been a housewife her entire life. Oh, she worked outside the home for a time, but most of her identity was centered on being a mother and wife. Not what many would call a powerful person … unless you are the man who might have committed suicide as a kid because you were bullied all through school. The names they called you struck like stones against your soul. Still, you knew if you could make it home safely you would find love that was powerful enough to heal the deepest bruises.
THAT is power.
It is the power of the God of love whose breath gives you life. It is the power of a baby’s smile, or a puppy’s kiss, or an old friend’s hug. Compared to that kind of power, fighter jets fall from the sky and turn to rust, nuclear plants grow cold, and politicians don’t matter. The power that the Spirit of life gives you does not burn villages, but it warms your heart to care for starving children that you will never see. It fires your passion so you fight against injustices you have never suffered. It empowers you to care for others while those around you are absorbed in caring for themselves. The fire of Pentecost melts indifference, apathy, and self-absorption.
You shall receive power–power of the divine breath within you–and you shall be witnesses. Your life shall bear witness to the One who so identified with the lowest and the least that he said that what we did to them we did to him.
Rev. Michael Piazza