Three Ways to Pause and REJOICE!

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Tomorrow is the third Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of joy. All of the assigned readings for the day reflect that spirit, that ineffable whatever-it-is, that deep-down sense that all is right with the world, even when things may not be objectively right in any way.

I can’t think of a better Sunday to take a . . . pause. It’s the perfect time to take a deep breath in and a deep breath out; it’s a re-setting of the old internal clock/barometer/gut-sense/compass; a deliberate step away from the noise, the hustle and bustle of shopping, decorating, baking, planning.

So I offer you today a few small Advent gifts—a brief reflection on rejoicing, in response to the scripture readings for the day. It contains a list of appropriate hymns and songs for this week of the liturgical year and a few suggestions for small intentions or actions that you might incorporate into your day. All of it is designed to help us learn more about living in joy, even when the craziness of the season, and the frustrations and worries of our lives, conspire to push us in the opposite direction.

The readings for this day include a beautiful song from the prophet Isaiah (35:1-10), Mary’s Song from the gospel of Luke (1:46b-55), some encouraging words on how to live well as a Jesus-follower in James (5:7-10), and the powerful words of Jesus when questioned by an imprisoned John the Baptist in the gospel of Matthew (11:2-11).

This is a time for singing,
for standing tall
and singing loud.

This is a time for smiling,
laughter welling up
from deep in our souls.

So we will sing.
We will smile.
And we will remember

that life is good
and worthy of celebration!

Hope and peace are already ours;
we carry them with us
as we move into the day.

For today
this Advent Sunday
is a day for joy.

Why?

Because he comes!
The One who heals the sick,
restores our vision,
tends the lame,
shelters the lost . . .

He comes!

In the midst of our grief,
our exhaustion,
our disillusionment,
Into our fear,
our confusion,
even our despair . . .

he still comes.

So sing!
With your whole heart, soul,
mind and strength.

Join Mother Mary
and rejoice
in the unexpected,
upside down,
cattywampus
ways of the wandering rabbi,

the one who brings down thrones,
and lifts up the lowly.
The one who upsets expectations,

calls out deception,
feeds the hungry,
upsets the apple cart,
blesses the children,
knows our weakness,
and calls us by name.

Hallelujah! Amen.

Here are a few suggestions for songs to sing (or listen to) on this Third Sunday of Advent:

Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee
The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came
Mary, Did You Know?
Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming
O Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
They That Wait Upon the Lord
Shout to the Lord
To God Be the Glory
Rejoice in the Lord Always
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
The Magnificat

Here are some small intentional actions that might help you take a pause:

Find a comfortable place to sit and then sit there. Don’t read; don’t look at screens. If you can, look out a window. If you live in a temperate climate, head outside to sit. Breathe in and out deeply and deliberately, with your feet flat on the floor and your hands in your lap. Offer very brief, one or two word prayers with each breath — like, “thank you,” “praise you,” “hallelujah,” “shalom.” Set a timer for 10 minutes minimum and let yourself sink into this quiet space and place.

Take a walk. If the weather will allow, do it outside. If not, chart a route in your home or apartment. Look around you as you make your circuit, whether indoors or out. Be on the lookout for small things you might not otherwise notice and then offer a word of thanks for what you see. See if you can make 20-30 minutes available for this movement of rejoicing.

Eat gently. Choose a meal somewhere in the busyness of this day when you can sit by candlelight, maybe some soft instrumental music in the background, and be very deliberate with each morsel of food that goes into your mouth. Savor it, taste it, chew it well. Swallow carefully. Feel the kinks unwind just a tiny bit as you take this pause in the midst of the usual hustle of mealtime. (I promise you, this can even be done with small children. It’s amazing what low light and soft music can do with the restlessness! Admittedly, the slow eating part may be difficult, but the atmosphere? It helps them, too.)

A blessed third Sunday of Advent to you all! And a very Merry Christmas, too.

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Diana Trautwein
Married to her college sweetheart for over 50 years, Diana is always wondering about things. She answers to Mom from their three adult kids and spouses and to Nana from their 8 grandkids, spread over a 19 year age range. For 17 years, after a mid-life call to ministry, she answered to Pastor Diana in two churches where she served as Associate Pastor. Since retiring at the end of 2010, she spends her time working as a spiritual director and writes on her blog, Just Wondering. For as long as she can remember, Jesus has been central to her story and the church an extension of her family. Not that either church or family is exactly perfect . . . but then, that’s what makes life interesting, right?
Diana Trautwein

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