The Power of Pause: A Good Theme

a good theme

It’s the heart of summer in the States right now. My parents back home are busy with Vacation Bible School, youth camp, and all the other things that happen in churches during the summer. They have to sweat in 120 degree weather while I am cuddled up in my blankets with the space heater on full blast here. Weather, orbits, and the earth’s axis befuddle me daily. Sometimes I pause and have to think… wait. It’s not December – it’s July!!! The 4th of July comes around, and I feel like I need to wake up and open presents.

Another holiday that confuses me is Easter. Easter here in New Zealand is different than Texas for many reasons. For one, there are SOOOOO many chocolate bunnies and chocolate Easter eggs and chocolate dinosaurs and chocolate rugby balls. They don’t decorate the hard-boiled eggs like we do or use the plastic eggs to put goodies and quarters in.

Another confusing difference is that churches have youth camp on Easter weekend (four day weekend here for everyone) instead of summer. So they don’t sweat and boil and get heat stroke during youth camp like we do because it’s autumn at the time.

I signed up to go this past year and I was unbelievably excited about it. I mean, youth camp without Texas heat? Yes! I was so ready for that!

The theme was simple: “Pause”.

I thought this was a really good theme. I was all, like, yes. Yes, that is such a good topic for, not just teens, but for everyone. We get so busy, or if we’re not busy, we tend to create busy-ness to fill in the void.

I prepared myself. In February, I began to wean myself off coffee to give myself healthy adrenal function so that I could be my best self at camp. The last two summer youth camps I attended, I was sick in the dorms most of the time. And I hate disappointing people. I continued to stay away from sugar, and I took care of my body.

the power of pause theme insta

You know a person is really serious about something when they decide to say no to coffee for two month.

And I tried to pause. I wanted to prepare myself.

But, pausing was hard.

In the end, Mark brought home a stomach virus from the hospital and I got sick the night before we left. It was out of our hands. There were tears. The whole thing was made worse by the fact that I was off caffeine, too. Horrible, right?

Though I get sick sometimes and that makes me discouraged, I almost always neglect to just pause and spend time with Jesus. I learned some things in those two months of preparing my body, mind, and soul to go spend time with teenagers. I want to continue to journey into that mind-space of pausing.

Let’s spend a few days of just stopping. Take an intermission in the middle of the chaotic play of life. Learn to set aside our phones, our computers, and our spinning brains long enough to see God, to see each other, and to spend time with ourselves. This is good. We need to find the power in pausing.

Storying Christmas: Comfort

storyingchristmas“Comfort” is one of the English language’s most warm words. So I think it suits Christmas perfectly. In the middle of winter, comfort is a big mug full of hot cocoa and marshmallows. It’s a red flannel blanket and a well-loved book. Comfort is the feeling of a fireplace; it’s the feeling of a big bear hug.

I’ve really been thinking and praying for a few months on what to write this December – Christmas season. There are endless articles and sermons and memes that seem to represent this month. There’s so much noise out there – mostly consumeristic. I want to quiet the noise with simplicity. So, let’s do a little series. Let’s call it, simply, Storying Christmas. Let’s just focus on themes within the Christmas story. Because stories are how we see the world. Stories are how we learn. Stories are how we think and begin to hope. And let’s start with the story of comfort.

I haven’t written on A Little Sanctuary in a couple of months. In many ways, these couple of months have been very difficult. This blog is all about comfort – it’s all about finding “sanctuary”, finding rescue in loneliness. So coming back with a post on this subject seems fitting.

It’s early December, but you’ve probably already started listening to your Christmas carols. Like this one:

God rest ye merry gentlemen

Let nothing you dismay

Remember Christ our Saviour

Was born on Christmas Day

To save us all from Satan’s power

When we were gone astray

 

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy!

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy!

 

From God our heavenly father

A blessed angel came,

And unto certain shepherds

Brought tidings of the same:

How that in Bethlehem

Was born the Son of God by name

 

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy!

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy!

 

The shepherds at these tidings

Rejoiced much in mind

And left their flocks a feeding

In tempest storm and wind

And went to Bethlehem straightway,

The blessed babe to find

 

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy!

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy!

Wstorying-christmase’ll get to the second half, joy, next time; but, just pay attention to the ending of each verse to find the feeling of comfort. The first verse ends with the comfort of being rescued from darkness – Comfort. The second ends with a baby, God’s own son, a Messiah the Hebrew people had waited for centuries to come – Comfort. The third verse ends finding that baby at the end of a storm – Comfort.

The Christmas story is an outpouring of comfort (and joy). That “peace on earth”. Mary is told by the angel not to be afraid – that God the Most High has found favor with her (Mark 1:30). Zechariah prophesied after his son John the Baptist was born that God had come to redeem and save them (Mark 2:68). And I love when Matthew reminds us of prophesy from Isaiah – that Jesus will be called God with us (Matthew 1:22-23).

God with us.

God rest you, merry gentlemen, boys, girls, ladies. Be at rest. Do not be afraid. A baby was born – Emmanuel. God with us. Live in comfort this Christmas season. Live in the feeling of that baby boy coming, sleeping peacefully. There is nothing much more comforting than a mother holding a baby – a baby that grew up and now comforts us, holding us in his hands.

Coming up on A Little Sanctuary:

 

5 December: Comfort

7 December: Joy

9 December: Discomfort and Sorrow

 

11 December: 25 Fair Gifts of Christmas

 

12 December: Justice & Injustice

14 December: Poverty

16 December: Rescue

 

19 December: Innocence

20 December: Unity

21 December: Adventure

22 December: Treasure

23 December: Song

 

25 December: Faith, Hope, & Love