Transformational Worship: The Breath of the Spirit

Posted on November 10, 2016 by ELCA Worship

 

Today’s post is from Gwen Arneson, Pastoral Assistant at Christ Lutheran Church in Cottonwood Minnesota.

A transformative experience in worship

Our congregation’s sanctuary is filled with connected but individual padded leather theater seats rather than wooden bench pews or other chair-type seating. For 60 years, this has facilitated a physically comfortable worship service experience, but it also results in a substantial communal “whoosh” as everyone sits down at the same moment in time. A pastor once quipped that it sounded like the Holy Spirit was blowing through the room each time the words, “Please be seated” were uttered!

We know and pray, of course, that the Holy Spirit is always blowing in our midst just as the wind blows continually across the prairie where we live. Active and persistent, the Spirit stirs us up, working in and between us, and inspiring each of us in our daily lives of faith.

Come, Holy Spirit, we pray as we inhale – inspired – and guide us.

Recently I’ve been in two worship service settings where I’ve had the privilege of sitting in the congregation rather than at my normal perch on the organ bench in the balcony. As a church musician, what a powerful internal message and blessing these opportunities were to me! It was lovely to sing shoulder to shoulder with those worshiping beside me. The most poignant moment for me that left a lasting memory in my mind and on my heart was when the congregation inhaled together to begin singing each new hymn stanza or liturgical response! As one gasping body, we breathed in the breath of the Spirit among us and filled our lungs with the energy and power to lift our voices in praise to God. We became one organism, replenished in spirit and capacity by the One who calls, gathers, enlightens and sustains us each day. It was pure joy to fervently sing the texts that followed with the renewed awareness of this deep common bond.

A simple sensory reminder of our living God at work across God’s church fills my heart with deep gratitude. Come, Holy Spirit, we pray as we inhale – inspired – and guide us as we draw in the world’s needs to serve as we are equipped, to sigh with those who sigh, and to give breath to all that brings honor and glory to God.

“Come now, and fill our spirits; pour out your gifts abundant.
O living Breath of God, Holy Spirit, breathe in us as we pray.”
(Evangelical Lutheran Worship #407)

Have a transformational worship experience to share? Email it, in around 300 words, to Worship@elca.org.

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