I’m in some shock that Christmas Eve is this next Sunday. For the children that I know, it has taken forever for Christmas to arrive. For most of the adults that I know, it has only taken a blink of an eye.

It has been strange sitting in congregations during Advent. I have not had an active role in planning or leading any services. This is going to be magnified on Christmas Eve.  I’m lifting up all of the pastors, musicians, liturgists, and other worship leaders in prayer as you prepare for Christmas Eve. Being on a Sunday presents some challenges. Before I knew that I was going to be a superintendent, I had already scheduled six services for Christmas Eve. Now I get to watch. I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to attend six services. I know from first-hand experience, however, how much energy it takes.

Part of what I look forward to every Christmas is what I call the “Christmas Pause”. This is the point when all of the planning, and all of the rush, is over. It is at this moment that I really experience Christmas. The services are planned, gift shopping is over, people are gathering, and I can focus on enjoying Christmas. For me, the “Christmas Pause” usually starts sometime Christmas Eve, and carries through Christmas day. If I’m lucky, it includes a couple of days after Christmas. This year maybe my “Christmas Pause” will start even before Christmas Eve!

I like that Christmas is the one day of the year when I can expect that most of the stores will be closed. This helps me to get ready for my “Christmas Pause”. I know that if I forgot something on Christmas day, it is too late to just run to the store. Things like food, gifts, and batteries need to be planned for in advance.

The sweetest part of my “Christmas Pause” are the people that I get to enjoy. This is one of the times of the year when we make special efforts to connect with one another. Sometimes this is in person, while other times it is using technology. Old-school also works—like Christmas cards and letters! Gifts are fun to let people know that we care about them, but the real blessing is getting to love one another.

Out of God’s love for us, Jesus was sent into the world. Jesus gave us the dual gift of loving us, and teaching us how to love others. It is this gift that transforms our lives!

My hope for each of us is to have a lengthy “Christmas Pause” filled with love! Merry Christmas!

Your brother on the Journey, Mark

PS: I’m taking a “pause” from writing “Mark’s Musings”. The next one will come out on January 9, 2018. I hope that your new year gets off to a great start!

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