Breathe in Christmas
‘Tis the season to be jolly, but it can be stressful getting into the Christmas spirit managing everything that goes with it, can’t it? Things like traffic; the expense; finding time to decorate, shop, wrap, bake, and attend parties; supply chain problems making some highly desired gifts scarce; and putting in extra time at work to buy time for time off; those things, among others, can leave us feeling more angst than awe.
Friends, that isn’t what God wants for us in this season of celebration.
The realities of Jesus’ birth can teach us some things. Mary was a pregnant teen whose marriage had not yet been consummated. Joseph was an honorable man who chose God’s plan over his own reputation. A census called the couple to travel cross country as Mary would otherwise be readying herself for the delivery — going to Joseph’s ancestral home, meaning she would be away from her own family. The couple made it to Bethlehem in time, but only to find the best lodging available was in a stable amongst livestock. There were no cribs, pack-and-plays, or bassinets, so the baby born to be the King of kings spent his first nights trying to sleep in a feeding trough. I’m sure Mary and Joseph were tired and trying to make sense of everything that was happening, but the noises from the livestock, they aroma they emitted, a really bright star overhead, and a newborn needing to be fed every couple hours likely made sleep a precious commodity. I would imagine they were feeling weary, yet company kept arriving, from meager shepherds to regal dignitaries. I am sure they appreciated the gifts of awe and wonder — not to mention the gold, frankincense, and myrrh — but diapers and baby wipes might have seemed more practical in the moment. Things probably began to settle down, and then news spread that Herod was coming to kill their baby, so they had to flee to another country. Does that seem stressful to you? Yeah, same here. It kinda puts some of our seasonal stress in perspective, doesn’t it?
The Bible instructs us to pray when we feel anxious. One of my favorite ways to pray these days is known as the breath prayer. That means you offer seemingly simple words of gratitude and adoration; lift special requests for others and self; or just take a moment to allow the Breath of Life to fill your lungs and remind you that you are in God’s almighty hand. After all, what we know about this holy season is that very Breath of Life was exhaled by a newborn over 2,000 years ago, some 6,500 miles away, accompanied by the primal cry of a baby boy just removed from the warm security of his mama’s womb. But that wasn’t just a baby screaming as babies do…no, it was a battle cry that the war against evil and death itself had just begun.
If you’re feeling anxious today with all you have to do, take a deep breath. Allow your chest to expand with the wind of God which comes from His very lungs. Inhale a breath and exhale a prayer. Christmas reminds us that God appears in the chaos, arrives in our messes, and isn’t deterred by our violence, all to show us The Way out and back home to Him. So let’s take this truth, allow it to shape our lives, and believe that hope, peace, love, and joy is available for all…all you must do is breathe.