The start of a new year provides an opportunity for new
beginnings—new calendar pages, new food plans, new
exercise routines, new budgeting goals. Many of us embrace a
fairly common practice of realigning goals at the start of each
year. We may need a reset to promote positive change, but it
does not take a crisp calendar page or the latest food plan to
receive new life, a fresh beginning. Each breath reminds us of
the new life God offers.

Breathing is the only autonomous body system that we can
control. While our breathing will continue without controlled
effort, we can consciously change how we breathe. Take a deep
breath right now. Pause your reading, and breathe deeply and
fully. Breathe deep into your lungs, allowing your chest to
expand; then exhale fully. Repeat this for five breaths.

In verse 5 we can translate the Hebrew word for breath as
“life” or “spirit.“ Stop and breathe in again. As you inhale, imagine
that you are breathing in God’s Spirit, filling your lungs to
capacity with God’s gracious gift of life.

Verses 5-7 remind us that God grants breath for a purpose:
to bring justice—“a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are
blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon. . . .” Breath/
life/spirit comes with an intentionality. How will you engage
each breath as an opportunity to live for your Creator this year?

God extends glory and blessing and promises new things.
Breathe in those promises for yourself. What “new things” does
God declare to you as you slow down and pay attention to your
own breath of life? Recognizing the sacredness of each breath,
breathe more deeply in the days to come—live with purpose the
life of unique servanthood to which God calls you.

Breath of Life, open me to the new things you long to foster through my life as your servant this year. May I make the most of each breath. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 3:13-17

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Lectionary Week
January 2–8, 2017
Scripture Overview

Many will read the Isaiah text and identify the servant with Jesus, the one God enables to do the work of justice and transformation. The psalm announces the glory of God, a king powerful over the turbulence of nature and whose voice is a transcendent revelation. Matthew’s story of Jesus’ baptism joins the themes of servant and king. The baptism inaugurates Jesus’ ministry in which he proclaims God’s righteousness. Peter’s speech in Acts reminds us that Jesus’ baptism carries with it the promise of baptism in the Spirit.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Isaiah 42:1-9. In this new year, what promises of God do you want to breathe in?
• Read Psalm 29. When the storms of life rage, how do you listen for God’s promptings?
• Read Acts 10:34-43. To whom do you need to proclaim the promises of Jesus Christ?
• Read Matthew 3:13-17. How does your understanding of your own baptism encourage you to live as an obedient child of God?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.