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.
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?