PLEASE NOTE: TODAY’S POST IS BASED ON THE CHRISTMAS LETTER I INCLUDED WITH MY CARDS THIS YEAR.
A friend asked the significance of the crosses on my Christmas tree. After all, we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus in this season and not his death.
On the first teaching card in the Godly Play lesson titled Faces of Easter we don’t even see the face of Jesus; rather, we see the faces He sees as he looks up as a newborn. Part of the lesson says, “The baby may even see the image of the cross on the faces of Mother Mary and Father Joseph.” As the teacher says those words she gently finger-draws a cross just above the bridge of the nose on the faces of Mary and Joseph.
To me, Christmas and Easter are inextricably linked. You can’t have one without the other.
And one way they’re linked is by something as simple as a breath. Jesus took his first breath the moment he was born and his last breath when he died on the cross that Good Friday.
Unless we have a medical condition that inhibits our ability to breathe, we give virtually no thought to this autonomic body function that connects us to the universe. Go ahead right now and take a deep breath and appreciate what links you to the rest of humanity.
When we’re desperately ill, we may not be able to breathe on our own. And when we’re frightened or numb with anxiety or grief-stricken, it can seem as if we have forgotten even how to breathe.
One of my favorite Christmas songs is Breath of Heaven sung by Amy Grant. Songwriter Chris Eaton, a friend of Amy’s, originally wrote the song with different lyrics except for the chorus. Amy convinced him to let her rewrite the words to tell the Christmas story from Mary’s perspective.
Grant says the song has turned into a prayer for her. The reason it turns into a prayer is that it fits the circumstances of so many people; it is a cry for mercy. On songfacts.com she is quoted as saying: “Some nights on stage I can hardly get through the song for knowing all of the collective, unspoken pain of the lives in front of me. And so the words become my prayer for the listener…”
I think of each of you as I look at the crosses on my tree. Whatever joys fill your life, whatever heavy loads you are bearing this Christmas, my loving wish for you this season is a sense of peace with every breath you take.