Reformation Lutheran Church A Congregation of the ELCA

Sunday, March 12

Breath of Life

ďI was there to hear your borning cry; Iíll be there when you are old; I rejoiced the day you were baptized, to see your life unfold ...Ē (John Ylvisaker, With One Voice #770).

I was in the delivery room, a pastor holding the hand of a mother completing a difficult pregnancy. Doctors, nurses, mother, father and I were holding our collective breath, wondering how this birth and this baby would be. We shared hope and fear, anticipation and worry.

Suddenly there was a gasp of excitement, a stir of purposeful activity - and a babyís cry as he took his first deep breath of life. ďThen the Lord God ... breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.Ē (Genesis 2:7b) We shared the mystery of the first moments of life for this new person, this baby boy - parents, medical team, and me. We shared prayer for this gift of love and life.

Another day, I was in a hospital hospice room. One of the dear matriarchs of the church was in her final moments. She was not alone. She had touched many people with Godís grace through the years, over her lifetime. Family and friends came with love to hold her hand, thank her for precious memories that they would cherish always, and kiss her pale brow. She seemed to drift in and out. Her breath was shallow.

We shared the ritual of anointing and a final prayer blessing. We remembered the promises God gave her in baptism many years ago, when she was sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. We spoke together our Lordís Prayer. She seemed to smile with those familiar words. She was surrounded by love, love she had given and love others shared with her.

And then she gave a peaceful sigh. Her breath left her body and was gone. Where? This vibrant soul passed on to another realm. This life ends and eternal life begins. We hugged and prayed again. Mystery and blessing, sorrow and peace. Itís beyond our understanding, yet God is with us with every breath, now and beyond.

Breathe on me, breath of God ...

We are witnesses and stewards of Godís mysteries, moments of wonder and awe.

Rev. Sally C. Fahrenthold (retired)

[Yesterday |Lenten Index | Tomorrow]