For those of you who are still on the journey toward a sacred pause, I appreciate you. I pray you are feeling a sense of slower rhythms as you turn the corner into Christmas week. Each breath in is your invitation to call upon the One who wants to save you from yourself. As you breathe out, the barriers to stillness slowly leave your body. We are headed toward the joy of a Babe born one night thousands of years ago. We wait with sacred expectancy for the hope that arrives and the love He showers on the world. Week Four holds the possibility of being our busiest week, but together we will continue on the path we have created during the last three weeks.
As we begin, take a few minutes and think of the best gift you ever received for Christmas. I’m thinking of the year I was thirteen years old. All the presents were opened and scattered on the floor around me. My heart began to close in on itself as the present I desired the most was not under the tree. I quietly pretended to “ooh and ahh” over the gifts I had received. With my head down, hiding my sadness, I heard my dad say there was one more present. There was no hiding it. There in all its glory was my very first guitar. Joy wrapped around me and a big smile adorned my face as I shouted with glee. This moment was marked with pure joy and a new understanding of expectancy—waiting well for the best gift of all.
Verse of the Week
Dear Friends –
We have the gift of one more week to prepare our hearts well for our Savior. What will this week look like? How will you embrace sacred expectancy when your house is a mess, or there is one more batch of cookies to make or presents to wrap?
Let’s explore this together and walk in the joy that leads us straight to the joy of a birth that changed the world and is still changing the world today. Together we will unwrap the gifts of preparation, hope, waiting with patience, joy, and arrival. You decide if you want to unwrap one present each day during the week or go through each one all at once.
Gift of Preparation
Prepare the Way of the Lord! Read Luke 3:4-6
Reflect on how John the Baptist opened the way for the arrival of Jesus. The foreshadowing proclaimed in the words fill me with hope and a new understanding of how perfectly God fits the pieces of our history and future together.
Gift of Hope
Isaiah prophesies the coming of the Savior. Read Isaiah 9:6-7
This is hope. The coming of a Savior who will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah’s prophecy is God’s way of reminding us of His intentionality in every detail of the story. There is nothing that God did not think about before the world was formed. Hope was born the day Jesus arrived, but Isaiah’s hope was the precursor to a life that would look like love, grace, tenderness, and mercy.
What does hope look like for you? Where/in whom do you find your hope?
Gift of Waiting with Patience
Consider it joy… Read James 1:2-8
If you are anything like me, you know the saying “Hurry up and wait.” If it’s possible to be an expert at this, I am one. How about you?
My journey into Advent over the last four years has provided a glimpse into what it looks like to wait well. One of the biggest lessons I continue to learn is not only how to wait but how to wait well. During the holiday season, this is not the most ideal thing to try when your to-do list is a mile long. What if waiting with patience requires saying “no” to all the holiday things? Really!!
Your challenge is to find a holiday activity or tradition that you can cross off your list this year. I found my way to this challenge unexpectedly a few years ago when I knew that making dozens of different kinds of Christmas cookies was not going to make it on the list that year. I carried guilt over the joy of my family indulging in my cookies but found that we still figured it out. Let me tell you that on the other side of dozens of Christmas cookies is freedom.
Gift of Joy
Song for the dedication of the temple of David – Read Psalm 30
Who doesn’t want a joyful Christmas? We sing songs about it (think “Joy to the World”) and send Christmas cards professing “peace and joy.” But I am the first to admit there have been holiday seasons that left me with little joy. Experiencing loss of any kind can put a damper on the holidays. Maybe this is you and joy is not even a word you put in the same sentence with the Christmas season.
God doesn’t want you to remain in this place. He blessed you with the greatest gift of all and His name is Jesus.
I know joy is not something we can force into being. During my seasons of deep loss, I plastered a smile on my face until reality became greater than my fake smile. God reminded me that taking one baby step toward real joy could lead to one more, and then another until I was closer to joy than before.
Start with one step toward joy today. There were several Christmases where making Christmas cookies felt burdensome. When I began to feel like making cookies again, I knew I had turned a corner. What does your one step look like today?
Gift of Arrival
Advent points to preparing well for the arrival of the newborn King, Son of the Most High and Savior of the World. It is a time of not only preparing our hearts but learning to wait well and seek God in all we do. It’s a posture of leaning into and on God as we walk through times of waiting, uncertainty, and the unexpected.
Let’s unpack this gift of arrival by reading, Luke 2:1-21, about the birth of Jesus. It is a time of awakening for the people of Bethlehem and the surrounding area as a newborn arrives, who they are told is the Savior of the World—the One for whom they are waiting for.
The arrival was unassuming, but miraculous all in the same breath. This is God’s gift to us this Christmas and as we celebrate throughout our lives.We made it to the fourth week of Advent. Join me as we unwrap gifts of preparation, hope, waiting with patience, joy, and arrival. Let us find our peace and hope in the birth of a babe named Jesus. #Advent #ASacredPause #sacredexpectancy Click To Tweet
Spend time in gratitude this week as you lean into the One who came wrapped in peace, joy, hope, and love. If you are someone who journals like me, you might want to write down all those things in your life for which you are thankful for. In this place of thanksgiving, know you were chosen for such a time as this.
Advent is a time of arrival. Today you can recognize the truth of how Jesus arrived with one purpose in mind–YOU!
Son of the Most High—Thank you for arriving at the perfect time to teach the world humility, how to love, and graciously embrace all people. Your words of truth and grace continue to make a difference today for people who strive for busy. I ask as this holiday season wraps up that you show me opportunities to slow down. Thank you for all you are teaching me on this journey of a sacred pause. May I seek you first, lean in for all I need and posture myself in gratitude for who you are. Amen.
Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: An Advent Devotional by Asheritah Ciuciu
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my favorite community of people. I look forward to seeing you on January 7, 2020, when the Tell His Story linkup resumes. The new year promises us hope as we turn the corner into new beginnings. Join me for a series on the Enneagram beginning January 21, 2020.
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Putting down a chore to find joy is a smart move. Then we can focus on what is important this season. This year I am trying to spend more time with the people around me. Which means giving up chores I think needing done. But didn’t Jesus come to have a relationship with us? So I want to focus on the relationships around me. Merry Christmas, Mary. Thanks for these thoughtful weeks you led us on.
May your Christmas be filled with the sweet and calming peace of Jesus Christ.
Merry Christmas Mary! Thank you for all of the breathing moments during this 2019 Advent season.
Merry Christmas to you, Lynn! It has been an honor and blessing to journey through Advent with you.
Mary, thank you for taking us by the hand and leading us into a quieter, more sacred Advent rhythm. Your words have been deeply spiritual and refreshingly practical.
Christmas comfort and joy to you, dear friend …
I’m thrilled to know that your time of Advent has been richer because of your time with God. Many Christmas blessings to you and your family!
Thank you Mary for the reminder to slow down this week.
I needed your words.
You speak balm to my soul.
Thank you for your encouraging words. I’m glad to have you here and love that you are writing again. Merry Christmas, my friend!
I love this thought, Mary: “On the other side of _________________ is freedom.”
Whether it’s dozens of cookies or some other weight God is calling me to lay down, no matter how hard it is to relinquish it, I know that God honors that obedience.
Blessings to you as you celebrate the birth of our Savior.
Thank for your kind and encouraging presence here.
I’ve lived that through that statement and it helped me so much when celebrating the holidays felt like the last thing I wanted to do. When I started baking cookies again, I knew I had turned the corner to healing. Your presence here is always one I look forward to. Merry Christmas to you and your family.