A Service of Light & Breath
A Service of Light & Breath
Reimagined in 2020
Hello, I am glad you’re here. Welcome to this virtual Service of Light & Breath. I have recorded this worshipful meditation for you to use whenever you wish. It was originally designed as a “Longest Night” service. It used during the Advent season of waiting. We waited for the Christ child to come break into the world. It was later modified to become more meditative and include room for breath and silence. Though used during ordinary time, it contained a clear connection to Advent.
The liturgical calendar puts us in Lent right now, but a new time has appeared. I had taken to calling this “Corona Time” before I realized that by calling it that, my imagination beckoned me to open a cold one and relax on the beach. I’ve left my imaginary beach and settled on “Covid Time” because it elicits a seriousness I believe requisite for this time.
“Covid Time” appears to have taken over. It seems to be the longest Lent on record, and the reality of face to face gatherings being “on hold” means that our “in person” Easter celebrations will edge toward Pentecost, when we would typically be celebrating the birth of the church.
Church in Covid Time
In this new, most unusual “Covid Time,” we are discovering new ways to be church. While this time is full of uncertainty, there can also be benefits to exploring new ways to worship, gather, and love. One of the aspects of time that I have been considering is how during this “Covid Time,” days and nights seem to melt together. Weekends blend into the weeks. Family time overlaps with work time. Our family isn’t always sure what day or time it is!
In the same way, if we allow our liturgical calendar to melt a bit, we may find ourselves naturally drawn to one or more of the liturgical seasons that may particularly speak to our hearts right now. For me, this has been a mix of Lent and Advent. “Covid Time” has become a time combining spiritual waiting, even as we face our mortality, acknowledge brokenness, and desire to draw closer to God. This worshipful meditation, therefore, draws upon various aspects of liturgical language to draw together many aspects of what we might be feeling during “Covid Time.”
One of the other most obvious aspects of this moment, is that we have been collectively faced with some new, very heavy, burdens. Just as the Psalmist comes faithfully to God in lament, we must find time and space in which we can explore our grief. It might be as simple as naming grief for the first time or finding ways to hold grief alongside of anxiety. This is especially important while we are “socially distancing” ourselves from one another. This service acknowledges many sorts of grief that we might be feeling and gives us the space simply to sit with this feeling, and finally (but only when we are able/ready), release it toward heaven.
Exploring Grief During Covid Time
Two ideas that we will seek to hold in tension throughout this meditation are grief and breath. You may already be familiar with the concept of holding in tension fear and love. Here, we hold in tension grief and breath. Why?
When we think of breath, we think of the creative life-giving Spirit, (ruach in Hebrew, meaning breath or spirit). From creation, the Spirit has been the breath of life for all creatures. Job 33:4 reminds us of this beginning, “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Breath fills us with life and draws us forward.
Grief, on the other hand, has a way of holding us in place. Physically, grief can feel like a pit in our stomachs, tears that fall without warning (sometimes even causing us to be unable to breathe), or a sinking feeling. Grief may even cause us to hold our breath. There are many ways that grief manifests itself physically in our bodies. There is no right or wrong way for us to experience feelings of grief.
No matter how we, as individuals, experience grief, breathing will help us deal with the physical symptoms we might be experiencing. When we focus on our breath, we can even calm our heart rates! Focusing on breath is one way just to remind us to breathe. Breathing is calming, helping us to calm both our bodies and minds.
In a context of meditative worship, it can also be an invitation to the Holy Spirit. The Psalmist reminds us that when the Spirit is sent, creation and even re-creation happens. Psalm 104:30 says, “When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.” Re-creation happens with the powerful, life-giving Spirit of God. In breathing, we are seeking to create more space for God in our lives
Breath & Grief
For the next few moments, I invite you to focus on your breath, while simply making room for grief. Know that whatever you are feeling is “ok,” and there is nothing you can feel that will frighten the Spirit. As we light candles together, be reminded that the life-giving Spirit is always present with you.
We are assured in the Scriptures that the light cannot be overcome by the darkness. At the same time, our grief can feel so dark, heavy, and insurmountable. This meditative worship allows the reality of grief, while also hanging onto the promises of light. Where grief meets the life-giving breath of the Spirit, re-creation happens. The Light of Life has shown this to be true.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. For now, we simply observe our grief. We sit with it, hold it, name it, and invite the Spirit to enter into it.
Preparation for Worship
If you have 6 candles, I invite you to prepare them before you begin the service. Be ready to light them as we move through worship together.
This introduction is also included in the audio file. Feel free to skip ahead if you have read it in advance.
I have left about 30 seconds of silence in between each section. Feel free to add as much time and silence as you desire, by clicking “pause” on the audio file. Simply resume the recording when you wish to move ahead.
With love and grace for this moment,
*Disclaimer* I recorded this very rapidly in my kitchen today, amidst A LOT of other things. It’s not entirely quiet, the production value is minimal, and it is not perfect. It seems to me, that it perfectly reflects this time. A Service of Light & Breath for Covid Time, is definitely not perfect.
I hope you enjoyed “A Service of Light & Breath.” Learn more about Rev. Wahila here.
The very talented Paige Elisa Gribb Photography took this photo for the blog header. You can see her work here.
The calligraphy was done with love by Inked by Hand.