Breathe in Advent

Routines often help us stay organized and optimized, saving energy and brain power for more important decisions. (I talked about this in a sermon recently–I’ll have to get that posted here soon!) But routines can also become ruts and sap energy. For years now, my partner in ministry at Woodridge UMC, Lead Pastor Rev. Danita Anderson writes a midweek message email to the congregation and I record a voice message that goes out to our people on Sunday mornings. We decided to switch up that long-help communication routine for Advent this year. Since I’m now in the habit (ok, kinda in the habit) of sharing here content I’ve created for other spaces…Here’s what I wrote to our people this week. (Well, actually, this is part of what I wrote. I’ll spare you the portion about bringing your Estimate of Giving Forms to church this week.)

If you have participated in any of our worship service in the last year, you’ve almost certainly also heard me ask you to take a slow, deep breath. Intentionally controlling our breathing quiets our minds, stills our souls, and helps our bodies recover. It is no coincidence that in both Hebrew and Greek, the word for Spirit, (ruach and pneuma, respectively) is also the word for breath. This fact has so many wonderful implications—including that God is as close to us as our next breath!

This Advent season, whenever the stress of all that is expected of you threatens to overwhelm, I encourage you to take a moment to Just. Breathe. And remember you are not alone. 

There are so many beautiful devotionals available to add your Advent experience, it is difficult to highlight only one. Yet that is what I will do! I adore the work author Cole Arthur Riley does on Instagram @BlackLiturgies. I encourage you to check out her posts there as she offers reflections, practices, and prayers for Advent. Here’s a taste:

In Advent, we put all our hope in the sacred blackness of a womb. As we wait, we remind ourselves that darkness, which is far too often reduced to a trite symbol for sin and death, in fact has the unique capacity to bear the divine. In Advent, we reclaim the holy dark. 

Inhale: The world feels dim.
Exhale: But glory grows in the dark.

Amen to that! Keep on breathing and plotting goodness!

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