Today my eldest daughter, Nevéah, came home from school and said, 'I told my teacher I had some Maori in me.' I looked at her. 'Just a little bit,' she quickly added. 'Oh?' I asked. 'Yeah,' she said awkwardly, shuffling her feet a bit and looking up at me from under her eyebrows, 'because you know, we speak some Maori words . . . at . . . home?' she trailed off, unconvincingly. 'Oh, ok.' I replied, and just gave her the look.
It's true. We do speak some Maori at home. Just simple phrases. We don't know a lot & with few friends around who speak it, we aren't even sure sometimes that our phrases or pronunciation are correct. Still we bumble through, we give it go. We do our best to get it right. When I speak to the kids in Maori in front of people, it sounds forced and artificial, so it's easier just to speak it at home.
It's like our special language.
Each day I love to pull my wildly active toddler close, and whisper, 'Homai he kihi'. Then she leans in and plants me a wet one on the lips. Sometimes we hongi - gently pressing our noses and foreheads together, instead of a kiss. In Maori culture, during a hongi, it is believed that the 'ha', the 'breath of life', is exchanged and shared. In that moment, when my small always-on-the-go child pauses for just seconds, there is a closeness that we share that can't be captured in a regular juicy kiss.
There is something special, something sacred, in that exchanging & sharing of breath.
Long ago, right back at the beginning, there was the first sharing of breath - the first hongi. Genesis 2 v 7 - Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. From this beautiful act, this outpouring of love; this sharing of life, came the first human life. Just imagine that for a moment - God Himself leaning down and breathing into the nostrils of this small, fragile human. There was something sacred in that moment, in the sharing and exchanging of 'ha'; the Breath of Life.
What could we possibly give back, in response to that? That gift of Breath, the gift of Life?
Worship. In the words of Ann Voskamp - 'worship is the essence of everything. Worship is giving back to God what He's breathed into us'. Is it the singing of songs, the reciting of prayers, the lighting of candles, the good works? Yes, it's all of those things. But it's so much more than just those things. It is the pouring out of self, an outpouring of love to Him. It can be in the sacred rituals and in the every day, mundane activities. It is the intent that lies behind those things - an act of sacrifice, and an act of love.
Romans 12:1 - Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
In that moment way back at the beginning of time, God poured out His breath, shared His life-giving breath, in an act of love. Later, His Son, in another most beautiful act of love and sacrifice, poured out His life so that we could share in that Life for always.
Through authentic worship we have the opportunity to experience true intimacy with God, in every life moment and all that we do - an act of sacrifice, of love. There is something sacred in that moment of 'giving back to God what He's breathed into us'. This outpouring of love, this sharing of Life.
John 4 v 24 - God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.