Receive the breath of God, and be whole

Worship on the Lord’s Day
10:00 am     28 May 2023     Pentecost
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia     Vocalist: Vivian Houg
Elder: Iris Routledge     Musical Offering: Bernd Kohler

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
P: and also with you.

Lighting of the Christ candle
Welcome and announcements
Silent preparation for worship

Call to Worship
L: Breathe upon us, Holy Spirit,
P: and inspire our thoughts and actions.
L: Stir in our hearts, Holy Spirit,
P: and fill us with energy to spread joy in the world.
L: Breathe upon us, Holy Spirit,
P: and refresh our commitment to serve.
L: Stir in our hearts, Holy Spirit,
P: as we worship and witness to God’s coming reign.

Opening praise: Holy Spirit, you are welcome here

Prayers of approach and confession

Loving God, Compassionate Son, Healing Holy Spirit, You approach us with such kindness and tenderness, and yet your touch transforms and converts our lives and your world.

Your care for your creation and for us is greater than we could know or imagine: You come to us, and You turn weeping into laughter.

You turn sorrow into joy. You turn death into life. You redeem all that appears lost.

And so, in adoration of you, we come, and we pause, we rest from our work and responsibilities, and we rest from our play and from our fantasies, to enjoy You . . . to enjoy Your beauty and Your world and our life in You.

Spirit of God, your energy moves in us and through us to face each new day.

You are as close to us as our breath, giving us life. You refresh us like the breeze on a warm afternoon. You challenge us like a strong wind, rousing our attention.

Holy Spirit, open our eyes to the wonder of God’s mystery, and open our hearts to the warmth of Christ’s mercy.

To you, with God our Creator and Christ our Redeemer, we offer our prayers and praise in love and loyalty.

Make us one in worship and witness by your grace and power.

God of wind and flame, at Pentecost your Spirit inspired Jesus’ followers to dare great things in his name.

But we confess that we lack daring and ignore the flame of your Spirit among us.

Forgive us for the sins we have committed by our actions and the sins we have committed by failing to act.

Send the Spirit to blow on the embers of our faith and reignite us for mission and ministry.

Hear our prayers and breathe into us new life. Amen.

Response: Glory glory, Hallelujah

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Jesus Christ came to save and redeem us. In him we find the peace of forgiveness, for in Christ your sins are forgiven. Thanks be to God.

Musical Offering: Have I told you (God) lately that I love you (Bernd Kohler)

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Open our eyes, Lord (445)

Story: Brad blew up a red balloon to illustrate how the Holy Spirit fills us as individuals and how the Holy Spirit filled Jesus disciples with new life after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Then he let the balloon “go” and it flew around until the air pressure inside it was depleted and gave the children presents in celebration of the birth day of the Church.

Prayer: Our God, we thank you for this day. We thank you for celebrations and for all the wonderful things that happen in our families and in the lives of our friends and people we love and care about. We lift them up to you and we want to give them hugs just like you.

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: She comes sailing on the wind vss.1,2,5   (403)

Today’s Message

Scripture readings: Acts 2:1–21; John 7:37–39; John 20:19-21

Response: Glory to the Father

Message: “Receive the breath of God, and be whole”

What? What a strange scene. It takes place in the upper room. All the disciples are there, except for Judas who had hanged himself and Thomas (who is not present).

It is a fairly well known story. Jesus appears to them in the upper room where they have been hiding out in fear of their lives. The reason the story is fairly well known is because Jesus comes in through the door even though the door is reportedly locked and more notably even though he is supposed to be dead.

It’s a wild tale; with a wild ending. But oddly enough, it’s not the risen Lord that’s most surprising to me. I’m sure 2000 years ago that would be hard to say but after growing up in the church for so long I tend to notice other things as well.

By now, at least for me, miracles are almost to be expected. We’ve all come to assume the miraculous from Jesus by now. And that’s problematic. Still, it isn’t that he comes to visit his disciples in a locked room with a solid body but interacting like a ghost. The fact that he would miraculously appear seems almost commonplace though the manner is unfamiliar. And that is a odd to be sure. But…

No what’s most odd about this story to the majority of readers is how Jesus acts. He says, “Peace be with you!” Okay, that’s pretty typical. But then he leans into it. And the Bible says he “breaths on them” and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit”.

It’s a very strange scene.

So just for general interest, how would you feel if one of your friends just walked up to you and said, “Peace be with you” and then breathed on you? Breathed on you with first century dental hygiene? Also because of the Road to Emmaus incident we also know that a previously dead Jesus had eaten fish for breakfast!


That was probably some not great breath. I’m just saying that it’s a little like a time travel movie and you may not want to think on to long or risk a massive headache.

What’s even stranger yet is that this isn’t the first time this sort of event has taken place.

Today when people read the book of Genesis, they tend to get bogged down in the details of the creation story. People love to debate the science of the Bible even though the Bible never claims to be scientific in the first place. The stories of creation get turned against some kind of false dichotomy where people pit faith against science (the result of which being that most some young people drop out of church right after taking freshmen biology).

But the whole idea that the two agree is pure nonsense from the original author’s perspective. In what is a rhythmic poem with repeated plays on words where nearly ever statement is built on 7 syllable phrases in 7 word sentences, in an insanely complicated tapestry of words, where God makes space three times and fills space three times. So… no, in the story God makes light before God makes the sun. But that is on purpose.

He makes the light on day 1 and fills it three days later with Sun, moon, stars and more. On Day 2 God makes the sea but fills it with creatures On day 5. On day 3 god makes the dry land but fills it on day 6 with animals and humans. He makes space, then fills space. And the reason for this is simple – the Sun is not the source of light on earth – GOD IS. The Sun is a created thing – like us.

The story is told the way it is with purpose. And every time I hear someone mock their uniformed version of biblical creation, I just feel sad for them because books are these neat thing that we tend to read from left to right and top to bottom, but they apparently only read sources such as – not a very reliable source.

In attempting to read the scripture in this way, some truly wonderful things are lost.

For example, in the second creation story (the one about Adam and Eve) God forms the Adam (the word for man) out of the Adamah (the word for earth). And then the Bible says that God breathes into the Adam’s nostrils. And then the man became “a living soul”. The thing is when most people read this they sort of can’t help but get a picture in their head. They picture a kind of clay man and a giant breathing into the clay man and then they picture the clay man coming to life like a real life Pinocchio in Geppetto’s hands.

But that picture, which many of us hold to, is not necessarily accurate. Not that I’m saying it didn’t happen that way. What I’m suggesting is that the Bible doesn’t really describe it that way.

See the Hebrew doesn’t necessarily suggest that God breathes into the Adam and then the man springs to life. The Hebrew word for life is חַי chay (kahI). But that’s not what the Adam becomes when God breathes into him.

In the story God breathes into the Adam’s nostrils and the Adam becomes (not just alive, but) a living נֶפֶשׁ [nephesh] – “a living soul”.

This may sound weird, but you know what I think the story is about? I think that the story is saying that God formed the Adam out of the Adamah and that as soon as God was done with the form of humankind, it became alive (long before God breathed into his nostrils).

I may be wrong, but I think, the way the story is told, that the Adam was already alive when God breathed on him.

But I don’t think the Adam was complete however, that is a different statement altogether.

I think the adam was alive… but that the adam wasn’t finished.

I think… He wasn’t finished until God made the Adam a “living soul”.

Now, for modern readers there are two stumbling blocks to seeing the deeper meaning here. First there is the cultural difference. And second there is the broadness to the way the Hebrew and Greek words are used in these two stories in the original language, how they were translated and understood in the Greek Septuagint translation circulating during the time of Jesus and Paul, and also our best current analysis of the exact use of words which is continually perfected by further archeological studies and discoveries.

First the cultural issue. Today when we hear the word Soul we tend to think of a hazy disembodied humanoid character floating up into heaven after someone has recently died. We think of soul and spirit or soul and ghost as being the same thing. But that is not how the Hebrew works. In Hebrew the נֶפֶשׁ [nephesh] or the “soul”, is a word that describes a person’s completeness. In Hebrew, a soul is not the same thing as a spirit. A soul is a person’s mind, spirit, and body all combined. A soul is a complete living person.

For ancient Hebrew’s a Body could be without a soul (incomplete) but a soul could never be without a body (because it wouldn’t be complete). This is in fact what makes physical resurrection so important to the Jews of Jesus’ day. For them, if Jesus didn’t have a body… he was incomplete. He wasn’t a soul. A soul is a complete person.

The second issue is the broadness of the Hebrew words (and later the Greek). So when God breathes the nephesh into the Adam’s nostrils it’s not just some kind of cosmic mouth to mouth resuscitation like it appears to be in English.

Instead, God breathes into the Adam from his נְשָׁמָה [nĕsh-amah] “his breath”. He shared his breath. But it’s more than that. In English the word breath means breath. We have just one word for one thing. But in Hebrew the word that means “breath” also means “wind.” So, God breathed his wind into the Adam (just like a great wind rushed into the crowd on Pentecost). Or it could mean breath, so God breathed his air into the Adam’s nose. Or it could mean “Spirit”. In other words, God took the living man and found him incomplete. And so, God breathed his own divine spirit into the Adam. And then then when the man had the Spirit of God… then the Adam became a complete person (a living soul).

Now, when I read the second creation story in the Bible about the Adam (the human) and the Eve (the mother of people), that’s how I tend to read it. I read… that God the creator of the universe reached down into creation and formed a man out of the most common element on earth – ordinary dust – and made the man to live. But that it wasn’t enough. And make no mistake I’m not suggesting that we are somehow divine or little gods, but… what I am suggesting is that God took something completely not of this world; completely extraordinary and added it to us. I read that He made us live and then he made us whole. I read that he breathed into the common and the everyday a burst of the divine, the very breath of God, a piece of God’s own self; His own נְשָׁמָה [nĕsh-amah, His own Spirit. I read that he put his divine Spirit within the man and he became whole.

When the disciples were all gathered together in the upper room, they were a mess. They didn’t know what would happen to them. They feared for their lives and they were broken, some of them even missing – and they were incomplete. But Jesus appeared to them and did something very odd and yet also very spectacular. He breathed on them.

Now, the New Testament isn’t written in Hebrew. It’s in Konie Greek. But strangely enough just like in Hebrew the Greek word for breath (pmeuma), also means Spirit. In short, Jesus appears to this broken group of people and he… re-does creation. He remakes humanity. He acts out the story of the Adam, on the Church. He breathes his very “Holy Spirit” into them. He puts the divine creator of the universe inside them. He makes them whole again.

Today is Pentecost Sunday. It is the day when God breathed his Holy Spirit into the church, and it became a living soul (a mind a spirit and a body).

But I submit to you that Pentecost is not just some day that took place 2000 years ago in the middle of the desert.

I submit to you that not only does God give to us of Himself and of His Holy Spirit a onetime gift of His presence never to leave us. But that God also continually breathes on us, continually brings us back to life, continually makes us whole again.

Praise be to God in whom we live and move and have our being.

Today and everyday (breathe) receive the Spirit of God and be whole. – Amen

Song: Spirit of gentleness vss. 1, 2, 4 (399)

We respond to serve God

Reflection on giving: Dayspringers have been giving faithfully as a  committed to continuing the ministry and mission that define Dayspring – using the ways described below. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission.

Prayer of gratitude and for others and ourselves

Wind of the Spirit, blow through us on this day of Pentecost and renew our faith.

Re-awaken our love for God.

Let your flames warm our hearts with trust in Jesus Christ

and dare us to do great things in his name.

Spirit of Power and Promise,

Blow through us and renew our faith.

Wind of the Spirit, blow through us and give us energy to serve you in Christ’s Church.

Open our eyes to recognize needs for ministry and mission, and to equip us to meet new challenges in ways we haven’t dared before.

Open our hearts to lives caught up in stressful situations.

Open our hands to share in the tasks that need doing, and open our lips in prayer and praise.

Spirit of Power and Promise,

Blow through us and renew our faith.

Wind of the Spirit, blow through us and give us understanding for those whose lives seem so different from ours; for those with whom we’ve disagreed; and for the challenges facing our community and your creation in these complex times.

Spirit of Power and Promise,

Blow through us and renew our faith.

Wind of the Spirit, blow through us and bring healing for all who face pain or illness, discouragement, or disappointment, for all who know sorrow, sadness, or grief, and for those who face pressures coping with the cost of living.

Bring healing to the earth, to places of upheaval and to ecosystems at risk.

Spirit of Power and Promise,

Blow through us and renew our faith.

Wind of the Spirit, blow through us and bring us the compassion we see in Christ Jesus.

Blow through us and refresh us as your faithful followers, equipped to serve the world you love in his name.

Song: We are one in the Spirit (471)

Sending out with God’s blessing: Go in the strength of the Spirit, to greet those you meet with gifts of understanding and friendship. And may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Response: Go forth into the world

Music postlude


Numbers in brackets after a song/hymn indicate that it is from the 1997 Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Those and other songs are being used in accordance with the specifications of Dayspring’s licensing with One Licence (3095377) and CLC (A735555).

The Rev. Brad Childs retains the copyright (© 2023) on all original material in this service. As far as Brad Childs is aware, all of the material that has not been attributed to others is his own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

Posted in Recent Sermons.