Reading time: two minutes. When we pray, “Lord, have mercy,” do you think the Lord can really relate? I mean, we cry out in our weakness, “Help, Lord. Save me!” but what does He know about stress and anxiety? That’s the great thing about Christmas and the Incarnation of Jesus. He became flesh for us, and He really does understand. For the next few weeks, during Advent and into Epiphany, we’ll explore very briefly how the Incarnation of Jesus into this human life of ours makes a difference, spiritually, physically, emotionally, all the way around The Lutheran Wellness Wheel.Baptism into Christ, when summarized by a single word, could be called a matter of Identity. No matter what happens to me, no matter what anyone says or does, no matter how I’m feeling or thinking or acting at any given moment, I am who I am because of my baptism into Christ. When I lose focus, when the cares and worries and troubles of this world pile up and cause me to tremble with fear and doubt, my baptismal identity is my ground of being. I can always return to the font and remember who I am. The gift of a Child born in Bethlehem is a great source of comfort when I need that baptismal refreshment. My Savior, Jesus, endured all the stresses of this life that I have to deal with. He knew about physical infirmity. He felt betrayal at the hands of friends. He knew all about unreasonable expectations. And he still does. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Every cry for mercy that falls on the ears of Jesus is met with, “I know. I understand.” I love, “Lord, have mercy,” as a prayer for baptismal renewal. It’s a prayer so simple and so readily available throughout the day. It reflects my weakness (absolute) and His power (also absolute). And it’s a call for mercy from the One who understands just how much help I need. And the promise of the gospel is Jesus’ promise to always respond, “You are my dear child. You are redeemed, forgiven and have a place reserved by my side. Nothing you endure now will separate you from My love.” It sounds so comforting coming from Someone who knows what I’m facing, doesn’t it? If I need hope, Jesus tells me that He made it and so will I. If I need forgiveness, He promises that it is mine. If I need courage, He reminds me that He did too, and received it. Immanuel, God is with us. I pray He will be with you in a very real and powerful way in this holy season. God bless your faithful ministry of sharing the joy of His birth! Thanks for reading.