(The following is a devotion I wrote the Women’s Advent Brunch at Lutheran Church of the Master in Lakewood, CO)
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
1 Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 2 You forgave the iniquity of your people; you pardoned all their sin. (Selah)
8 Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. 9 Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. 10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. 11 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky. 12 The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. 13 Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.
In this season of busyness and distraction, we know that we are also in a season of waiting-Advent. We wait-almost holding our breath for the excitement of Christmas-not just the festivities but the excitement of Christ coming among us; the excitement of the reminder of God incarnate, God among us and God speaking to us and guiding our path. The season of Advent is holy pause, a long inhale and exhale in the church year. The word Selah in our psalm is somewhat of a mystery but we know that it appears in Psalms that were more than likely used in corporate worship among the Israelites. They were songs or litanies that the people spoke together as one voice. Speaking as one people is a tradition that is ancient and still important today. Biblical scholars think that Selah was a cue to pause in the song or litany and breathe together. It was a cue for the people gathered to worship and praise God to connect to the breath of God and to one another.
When we pause, take a deep breath and connect with others we make space don’t we? We make space in our lungs for air, in our lives for each other and we make space in our lives for God. In the coming of Jesus, God is proclaiming that God has made space, room, for us in the very life of God. Through the life and ministry of God’s own child, God is literally breathing space in the world (in creation) for love, mercy, forgiveness and grace. Just as God breathed into the first humans, God’s breath in Jesus blew into the world for life and love and continues to move and live in us in every breath that we take.
We know that there are times in our lives and in our world that it seems we are all holding our breath. We wait for new life to take their first breath and for some to take their final breath in this world. We hold our breath in the face of violence, injustice and fear. We know we are complicit in denying other people life and breath. The reminder of Selah is that we are all connected and connected by the very breath of God. So, breathe. Create a holy pause, a holy breath, or as the psalmist writes, a path in your day for Jesus to come into your hearts and into your life. Hear with your head, with your heart and with your spirit what God speaks to you in that holy breath, how God meets you where you are and promises to be with you on your journey in this life and in the next.
Prayer: God in you we get our very life, our very breath. Create in us space for your word, for your love and for your grace. Your whole creation is holding its breath for reconciliation, for peace, for love, for mercy. Filled with your breath, may we be instruments of your work in the world. In the name of your son Jesus, the light and breath of the world, amen.