Sunday, December 2, 2012
As We Journey Toward Bethlehem
This devotional is adapted from one I wrote for Rest Ministries in 2008, then revised for my manuscript of devotionals, Choosing Comfort, and expanded for today’s entry on my blog.
It has made its own journey to get to you now!
Bethlehem.This word when used in reference to the city in Palestine, a short distance from Jerusalem, has deep meaning to Christians as the celebration of Christ’s birth marks our calendars. His birth is cause for joy no matter the season but Christmas time brings it forth with more intentionality.
There can be many festivities commemorating this event: gift-giving, card-sending, and love abounding as family and friends gather. The sounds of music may fill homes bringing the messages of this season to our hearts.
Birth. Wonder. Hope. Fulfillment.
One song that settles deeply within me is,
Breath of Heaven/Mary’s Song.*
The lyrics convey Mary’s thoughts on her journey toward Bethlehem as she struggles with the weight of the imminent birth of the Child she is carrying. Heavy, too, is the responsibility she foresees in raising him. As she surrenders to God’s plan, she recognizes that the grace she needs for each of the days to come has also been entrusted to her.
The weighty emotions which overcame Mary are echoed in our lives. We, too, carry Christ within us. Challenges can overcome us.They can take on a heavier tone when holidays are being celebrated and our culture presents many Hallmark moments that image the perfected, be it Christmas or any other holiday of the year.
There are various reasons we may not be able to join in with matched gusto: some face chronic illness, chronic pain, loneliness, grief over the death of a loved one who once made such times of year very meaningful.
Families may be estranged, marriages on edge, one’s children walking paths different than had been hoped. Our personal hopes and dreams, still on hold, have us wondering if they ever will be fulfilled.
Loved ones and friends may be facing their own illnesses or conditions over which we have no control but to love them and support them via our presence or in our prayers for them -- perhaps in both ways.
We all are asked to work through the traumas of life, no matter the season and with an acceptance of whatever season in life we are facing.
Such times bring questions as we seek answers and resolve.
Can I bear this burden for one more day? Can I see a gift in this pain entrusted to me? Can I overcome the grief and fears that loom up large engulfing me? Can my life ever live up to my expectations?
"Breath of Heaven, hold me together.
Be forever near me, Breath of Heaven."
God’s breath of life created us. We carry the breath of heaven within us. His life sustains us. We do not journey alone. We may question. We may despair. That is fine for we can turn and seek the answers in the One who has them. We then await the peace that only He can bring.
As we ponder Christ’s birth, we can commit to a renewal in allowing Him to rebirth us. We are as dependent upon Him as He once was dependent upon Mary. Likewise, we share in the grace-filled promise that He is forever
Lord, I exhale my heavy burdens to make room for You and for your help within me this day. Fill me up to overflowing with both the strength and the lightness of your Presence. Amen.
As you listen to the lyrics of this song and reflect on the message in this blog posting, may you relax in to the reason for this season, no matter what season of life you are experiencing.
Click on the song title to get to the music.
*Songwriter/Composer(s): Chris Eaton/Amy Grant
performed by Amy Grant
Photo by Lynn
Watercolor by Lynn’s friend, Dave Peterson, sketched specifically for inclusion in her manuscript, “Choosing Comfort”