April 21, 2024

[LITURGY] From Winter to Spring

Mariah Keener

This weekend, before continuing our series in Romans, we took some time to engage in some practices during our liturgy. We sang together, entered into a breath prayer together, and prayed a Prayers of the People together; honoring the loss and emptiness of Winter and the hope that comes with Spring.

Follow along with the transcript below.

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Intro: Hey, South Bend City Church, Mariah here, the Director of Art and Worship. We’re so thankful that you chose to join us today, and we’re so grateful that you’re a part of our community.

This weekend in our gatherings, before we talked more about Romans, we had the opportunity to take a breath together through several practices. We started by singing together in a way to ask that our hearts would be open for what this time has for us. And then we entered into a practice called breath prayer, a way to focus our bodies and our souls and to spend some time breathing in and out while reminding ourselves of some truths. And then we finished by engaging in a practice called Prayers of the People, in which we prayed a prayer together as a community.

We know that this time was really meaningful for us on Sunday, and we hope that whether you were there and want to revisit it, or whether you’re a long distance community member that wasn’t able to join us, we hope that this time will serve as a deep breath as we remind ourselves of the importance and beauty of spring.

Thanks again for joining us. Let’s jump in with the rest of our community now.


Mariah: This next section of our morning, we’re gonna enter into a few practices that we embrace around here. The first is singing, which we’ve already done this morning, but it’s a way to engage our heads, our hearts, our bodies, and our voices together. And then we’re gonna do a breath prayer. And I’ll lead us a bit more in what that is. And then we’ll finish off with the prayers of the people before J comes back up.

But I just ask that you engage with this next section however you want. I know I just asked you to stand, but if we get into this and you’re like, I need to sit down, great. If you wanna sing, sing. If you wanna just sit and allow the words to be sung over you, just stand there and allow the words to be sung over you. But before we get into the breath prayer, we’re just gonna ask that our hearts would be open to whatever the divine has for us in the next few moments and for the rest of the morning. And so join in and sing if you want.


Open Space by Housefires
Verse 1
Pull me in closer, close to your heart
May I be a pure reflection of all you are
Love that is patient, love that is kind
And love that keeps no offenses or wrongs in my mind

Make me like Jesus
Make me like Jesus

Chorus (x2)
My heart is an open space for you to come and have your way
I’m open, I’m open

Verse 2
You’re faithful to find me right where I am
Though even in my wondering you call me friend
And mercy receives me and lifts me to my feet
And I’m caught up in the wonder and mystery

Of knowing Jesus
Of knowing Jesus

Chorus (x2)

Bridge (x2)
Do whatever you wanna do
And say whatever you wanna say
And move whatever you wanna move
And change whatever you wanna change

Chorus (x2)


Mariah: And with that feeling, I’m gonna ask you to grab a seat. If you’ve never joined us for a breath prayer, this is a practice in which we kind of settle in, we just take some deep breaths in and out, and breath prayer is a form of prayer that you kind of take one thought and you just breathe those thoughts in and out. And it’s a way to kind of settle in. Hopefully it helps tune out some of the noise. Maybe your mind’s racing this morning and hopefully this next practice will help you settle in a little bit to this morning.

So if you’re comfortable, close your eyes. Maybe put your feet flat on the floor. Sit in a way that’s comfortable for you. Take some deep breaths in and out. Deep breaths in and out and feel your heart beating. Feel your feet on the floor, maybe you feel your blood rushing through your veins, or you feel the air hit your lungs and then leave them as you breathe in and out. In and out.

As you continue with these deep breaths, imagine yourself in a safe place. Your safe place. It could be anywhere in the world. Or it could be a place that exists only in your imagination, but it’s utterly safe. Maybe you take note of what you see, the environment around you, or maybe you hear or smell something. Maybe it’s a place that you’ve been and those memories are just coming back to you this morning. And take note, maybe you’re there alone, or maybe you’re in the company of someone or something that brings you peace. Someone or something that helps you relax and is safe. And once you’re in that place and you see and feel all of those things, imagine the Divine or whatever your vision or version of the Divine is, wrapping its essence around you, enveloping you in deep and complete love.

It’s in this space that we breathe today.

We are exiting winter, a season where things lay fallow. For some of us, they die. And maybe today you’re feeling that loss, that emptiness. So in the full safety and in full love, as you breathe, we silently name those losses and that emptiness today. In and out.

But after winter comes spring. The hope of warmer, longer, brighter days. The coming of growth and of life and of birth. The time in which things come awake in the world. And so in full safety and in full love, as we breathe we silently name the hopes we have and the growth we wish to see. Breathing in and out.

And as we continue breathing in and out we say these things within ourselves. As you inhale, we trust we will have provision. As you exhale, we hope in you and your promises.

Inhale: We trust we will have provision.
Exhale: We hope in you and in your promises.

Inhale, we trust we will have provision. Exhale, we hope in you and in your promises. Just keep breathing in and out with those things in mind. In and out.

As you keep breathing, we’re gonna play a song. If you want to, you can bring yourself slowly back to the here and now, or you can stay in this safe place and continue to breathe in and out. Either way, continue to focus on your breathing, those deep breaths.


Breathe by Maverick City Music
Verse 1
This goes out to the worried
This goes out to the stressed
Sorting out a million thoughts running through your head
To everyone that’s waiting
For better days ahead
Tired and frustrated and leaving words unsaid

Please don’t hold your breath

Just breathe
‘Cause it’s a miracle we can breathe
There’s power in the way that we breathe
Release your heavy burdens
And let everything that has breath, praise the Lord
So let everything that has breath, praise the Lord

Verse 2
Sometimes you’re in the desert
Sometimes you feel the pain
Sometimes He calms a storm and sometimes He let’s it rain
Please don’t hold your breath


Bridge (x2)
Oh, and I can feel my lungs
Taking air again
Just breathing, I’m breathing in oxygen
And I can feel my strength
It’s coming back again
Breathing, breathing in oxygen

Bridge 2
I can feel my heart
There it goes again
It’s beating, I’m breathing in oxygen
I can feel my heart
There it goes again
It’s beating, I’m breathing in oxygen

So let everything that has breath praise the Lord
So let everything that has breath praise the Lord


Mariah: Now for some of you, you’re still in that space, so I’m going to ask you to slowly become aware of the here and now. Whether your eyes have been open for several minutes or not, just take some deep breaths. Maybe look around the room and just re-acclimate yourself to the here and now as we sit here facing one another, as we continue to breathe and to breathe into this space.

And I hope that you take that breath throughout your day, throughout your week. When you feel stressed or uptight or your mind’s racing, just sink down into that feeling of breath.

We’re gonna do a prayers of the people. When you see the bold and italicized words, I ask that you join in as we pray this together.


Prayers of the People (Author Unknown)
God, thank you for Spring and the hope of warmer, longer, brighter days.
Thank you for the coming of growth and life and birth.
Thank you that things are coming awake in the world.
This is what our calendar says, and we do see some signs that it is real.
But we also still struggle with the residual layover of winter.
Now we ask that you bring into reality all that belongs in this season.Your word says that we will have provision, and hope, and joy, and health and loving relationships here and now in this life.
We ask that what belongs in this season would become actual in our practical lives.
We hope in you and in your promises. We hope in your gift of Spring.

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