When I talk to folks around this time of year, I discover one fairly common trait: stress.
Whether it’s preparing for guests at home, or preparing to go and be guests in someone’s home; whether it’s fearing poor driving conditions or flight delays; whether it’s trying to get all the work done or trying to make peace with the fact that it won’t be all done, people are stressed.
It’s a sad irony, really.
Jesus’ followers read Isaiah 9.6 as Messianic prophecy, and it says that he would be “the Prince of Peace” – yet even his followers struggle to find peace at this time of year.
What can be done?
I think the answer is to be intentional about honouring the Prince of Peace with our own sense of peace. That can, sometimes, mean making difficult decisions. At other times, it simply involves choosing to have peace.
A very basic way to make that happen is – and this may sound overly simplistic – to breathe. Pay attention to your breathing. Take deep breaths. Decide that a challenging situation will not stress you out.
The latest update to the operating system for the Apple Watch includes a reminder to stop and breathe. Some call it ‘mindfulness’, but you and I can call it prayerfulness. Breathe in the grace of God; he’s got this, whatever it is. Breathe out your stress.
So, amid the kitchen prep and the house cleaning, breathe and pray. If you’re sitting in traffic or waiting on a late flight, breathe and pray. While trying to get all your work done before the weekend, breathe and pray. God’s got it.
And have a merrier Christmas.