February 25 2018

Sermon by Pastor Mark Thompson

Lansing Central United Methodist Church

February 25, 2018

“Finding Your Breath:  Listening to our Bodies”

Romans 8: 26-28, 35-39

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Sermon

Heart beat… lub dub   lub dub  lub dub

At an average rate of 80 times a minute, the heart beats about 115,000 times in one day or 42 million times in a year. During an average lifetime, the human heart will beat more than 3 billion times — pumping an amount of blood that equals about 1 million barrels.

If you live to be 80 years old, your heart would have beaten approximately 3,363,840,000 times! That’s over 3 billion …

Breath… (deep breath sound)

usually breathe about 12-20 times per minute. Over the course of a day, that adds up to 17,000-30,000 breaths per day — or more! Those average breathing rates are for when you’re at rest. When you exercise — or even walk around the house or school — your breathing rate goes up.

 

Come and find the quiet center in the crowded life we lead,

find the room for hope to enter, find the frame where we are freed:

clear the chaos and the clutter, clear our eyes, that we can see

all the things that really matter, be at peace, and simply be. *

 

In the stillness of meditation, we can hear God speak to us. Be assured that God is speaking. Thomas Merton wrote,

“There is not a flower that opens, not a seed that falls into the ground, and not an ear of wheat that nods on the end of its stalk in the wind that does not preach and proclaim the greatness and the mercy of God to the whole world. There is not an act of kindness or generosity, not an act of sacrifice done, or a word of peace and gentleness spoken . . . that does not sing hymns to God.”

(Thomas Merton, Seven Story Mountain, pg. 142)

I would add, as does J. Phillip Newell in his book Christ of the Celts, that the very voice of God is the voice of a child first cry, the moan of prayer on the lips of the dying person breathing their last…the song of all creation; it is our voice; the voice of humanness in the deepest heart felt form; the sound of dew dripping from a rose pedal…

It is that voice that resonate with us that we are indeed made in the image of God. It is that voice that resonated with the scripture in Genesis 1

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; … God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.

There is much that gets in the way of being able to hear that voice of God deep within us that resounds of goodness and love.

In “Christ of the Celts, J. Philip Newell, writes in his chapter entitled “A Forgotten Tune,” about how some church teaching has actually moved us to disparaging hearing the voice of God in our own being.

(pgs. 18-19)

Such disasters are the wars within and without our very being. Let us find the quiet center and know love, divine love within us. Know that we are indeed made of good, for good, for the sake of all creation.

Let us calm our spirits in the knowledge that nothing can separate us from the love of God that we have found in Christ Jesus, our Lord…the one who danced and sang in the midst of all of life’s ups and downs.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Romans 8: 38)

Let that sink in for a bit. Let me repeat it. Before I do, let’s put into practice the tactics that I taught to the children during the Young at Heart time earlier in the service.

  • Close your eyes, if you feel comfortable doing so.
  • Take 2 slow deep breaths.
  • Take a 3rd breath and comfortably hold it
  • Listen for your heat beat… it’s there.
  • Now, slowly let out your breath, focusing on your heart beat.
  • Stay focused on your heart beat as I read these words.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Romans 8: 38)

This Lenten season focus is to calm ourselves so that we can listen to the voice of God, the God who is seeking to move us forward in our shared life with all of creation.

In this time of being rattled by the sounds of gun fire in our schools and the cries of peaceful measures to seek prevention of more children being killed…

In this time of hearing the racket of noisy words proclaiming white supremacy…

In the midst of entanglements of leaders in affairs of greed and power…

In the midst of it all life unfolding in wonderful and odd ways…

Let us find the quiet center of divine love language that resonates with our truest being. Let us speak that language to the world around us, who more and more seeks peace, justice and equity for all.