‘Tis the Season to Pause

Guest blog post by April Yamasaki, author of Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal (Herald Press, 2013).

This year from Advent to Epiphany, my church is following the journey of the magi, with a clue each Sunday for where our three wise men nativity figures will appear next. On the first Sunday of Advent, they were upstairs in a Sunday school classroom. This last Sunday, they were in my office–one on the low book case by the door, and the other two on top of my tall shelving unit by the window. Each Sunday they’ll be in a different place in the church, until they finally arrive at the nativity scene in the sanctuary on Epiphany Sunday.

Photo credit Free Digital Photos at www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo credit Free Digital Photos at www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was delighted when the chair of our worship committee suggested this idea. What a fun and creative way to celebrate the Advent-Epiphany season! It’s great for the children and for all ages in our congregation, as we look for the clue and the wise men each week and anticipate their arrival at the front of the sanctuary.

Their five-week journey through the church reminds us that the wise men travelled a long way before they found Jesus. I imagine them stopping night after night under the stars or perhaps at an inn, resting before the next leg of their journey and wondering what the next day might bring.

In my imagination at least, the magi pause in their journey, and so remind me to pause in my own journey as well. Instead of staying up late and getting up early as I often do, I’m reminded to pause and get a good night’s sleep. Instead of rushing toward Christmas in a whirl of activity, I’m reminded to slow down and look for Jesus every day.

For me, taking this time to pause means that some things have been left undone. I don’t decorate a lot at Christmas, but I usually have our nativity scene and a few other special ornaments set up by now; instead, they’re still patiently waiting in the basement until I can get to them in the next day or two. I don’t do a lot of Christmas baking, but I usually do some; this year, I’ve made just one batch of cookies so far.

Yes, I’m busy with a lot of things as usual, but I’m also taking time to pause and savor this season. There is time to pause in expectation and wonder as God continues to work in our lives and in the world.

How are you taking time to pause this Advent season? Is there something that you need to leave undone in order to pause?


April’s book Sacred Pauses is available from the MennoMedia store here. April posts regularly at her own blog, here.Twitter: @SacredPauses



4 thoughts on “‘Tis the Season to Pause

  1. I love the idea of the wise men journeying through the church! It’s what they, and Mary and Joseph do in my and many other homes every year. Even my shepherds are away from the manger on a patch of green felt tending their sheep. I love the way moving them helps me and my grandchildren mark the approach of Christmas and identify with the long journey toward Bethlehem. It’s part of the Art of Spiritual Grandparenting. 🙂 (A book with that subtitle is also available from MennoMedia. It’s another great stocking stuffer for older people on your Christmas list.) My other decorations aren’t up yet either, and 2 simple kinds of cookies are all I’ve baked so far, but it’s a good season. Blessed Advent

  2. Thanks, Elsie – maybe next year, our other nativity figures will be on the move too 🙂 I love your book, Please Pass the Faith: The Art of Spiritual Grandparenting – readers may be interested in my review http://aprilyamasaki.com/2012/08/27/please-pass-the-faith-book-review/ which also includes the link to purchase from MennoMedia. I do love the gradual unfolding of Advent so I’m not in a rush to decorate and bake all at once, and I’m glad to be in good company with you.

  3. I was born in Puerto Rico… for us, the gift giving in that culture was not, typically, on Christmas day (although, we Merkin transplants did so). We waited until El Dia de Los Reyes to do so. Experiencing the “journey” of the magi in this creative setting evokes, for me, putting a shoe box of grass under my bed for the pack animals of the kings as they went searching for the infant Christ and waking up the following morning to some sort of gift in exchange for the hospitality. Thanks for sharing your own expression of the magi, April!

    • What a beautiful tradition! I love the idea of hospitality and caring for the pack animals – how appropriate to remember them too in caring for “the least of these.” I will want to find some way of sharing that with my congregation too.

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