Breathe In

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breathe in image

I wrote this on Christmas Eve. But today is the first time I could muster strength to post it, due to a weeklong bout with bronchitis…

Dec. 24, 2015

For the first time in three days, I woke up today and it didn’t hurt to breathe. When you can’t breathe, everything gets blown out of proportion. Desperation lurks at every corner. I couldn’t concentrate enough to read, and I love to read. I couldn’t have phone conversations without coughing fits of fury. When it hurts to breathe, there is no thinking rationally. You are tired, scared, and hurting. And all you want is out of it.

That pretty much sums up the world, today. If you take your wind from others, it looks hopeless. If you watch the news or read the newspapers, terrorism, war, cancer, natural disasters, refugees, rampant greed, hatred, and cynicism are lurking around every corner. And it’s quite evident by our politics that we are not thinking rationally either. I don’t know about you but I’m having trouble catching my breath this season. It hurts too much, really.

But the bottom line of this Christmas season is what the angels said to shepherds long ago. “For today I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all. For unto you this day, a Savior is born.” Even more angels joined to proclaim: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to all people and goodwill to all.”

What the angels were really saying was, “Can you believe it? If so, come see him.” And they mapped out how to find him– wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a feeding trough. Not the way I would have staged it. No king with military might. No soldiers fighting the evils of the world…just a scared teenage unwed pregnant girl in a land distant from her own. God is like that. Coming in unexpected ways. A feeding trough and an unwed mother.

How could she face the judgment and fear of the unknown that lay before her? How could she catch her breath in the midst of the toils, travels, and tears she would face with this child? I’d have trouble catching my breath, if I were she. I’d be sick with discouragement and doubt. But she chose purpose and meaning instead.

I keep hearing that voice inside–“Can you believe it–peace and goodwill to all? If so, come see him.” If I believe it, do I dare take the steps of the shepherds and go and find the Anointed One—the Christ? Not just say he exists, but actively, urgently, seek and worship him.

It’s when we start the scary trend of believing the words of angels–peace and goodwill to all–that we live into the meaning of what Jesus’ birth was all about: wholeness for our soul, for our community, and for our world.

It seems, we too, are lowly shepherds at that same juncture in the road. Are we going to live for meaning and purpose… or for our own happiness and livelihood? Will we be doing what we have always done the way we have always done it? Or are we going to follow God’s will with hope, generosity, and love—that all may have peace, goodwill, and joy—not just some, but all.

So I ask you. Can you believe it?

Then come see him. Come every Sunday, and every day. Come every chance you can get to sit at this amazing child’s feet because he is the Savior of the universe. He brings hope, wholeness and healing to all. He even proclaimed it as a teen in the temple saying:

“The Spirit (Ruach, Hebrew for breath, wind of God) of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:19

And again at the end of his life: “Whatever you do for the least of these, you did for me.” Matt.25:40

And he walked the talk. Healing lepers, teaching women, training disciples, and forgiving enemies—even those who nailed him to the cross. He proclaimed good news to all—the poor, the prisoners, the blind, the oppressed, the enemy, and even you and me.

Do you believe it? Then come and see…come and seek. Seek him with all your heart, mind, and soul. With all your breath, even if it hurts to breathe. Because none of us knows when that tiny voice inside will ask, “Let that young couple stay with you.” The other voices are louder—“they could be out to get you”, or “he has shifty eyes so I wouldn’t trust him.”

But hopefully, we will be intrigued by the smallness of the voice or the tug of the Spirit. And we will have the courage to risk and reach past our own security and happiness, to let the savior of the world move into our garage. For whatever you do for the least of these…

For while others in this world are hurting to breathe—we can breathe in meaning and purpose into our lives–God’s Spirit. Can you believe it? If so, come and see him…