Advent’s Sacred Pause

I was out for a walk on one of my favorite paths, rounding a small lake and enjoying the dense woods of tall trees that surrounded me.

About two-thirds along the way of this circular path, I noticed I was struggling, having trouble breathing, far more than the distance warranted. I slowed a bit and tried to take stock of what was happening. And suddenly I realized the problem: I was so determined to get around that lake in record time, so intent on the end point, that I was actually holding my breath along the way. I stopped, reminded myself to be mindful of each step, and to breathe deeply of the journey’s goodness rather than rushing toward the end point.

In some ways, Advent is that same reminder. It is this sacred pause before the glorious finale, the journey we move through as we await Christ’s birth and coming again. But so often our Advent walk leaves us struggling for breath, rushing so furiously through the gift-buying, the decorating, the baking, and the celebrations that we completely lose sight of the beauty along the way. We forget to breathe in the fullness of the ancient story: the way the prophets foretold how God would do an amazing new thing, the faithfulness of Mary and Joseph as surprising vehicles for God’s revelation. We may miss entirely the most stunning thing of all: God’s love for us was so deep that God desired to dwell among us, to become vulnerable, human flesh right in the midst of us.

As you travel the Advent journey, I pray you are being mindful of each step, pausing often to breathe in the goodness of God, exhaling out whatever may be cluttering your path or weighing on your heart. Enjoy fully the path, while eagerly anticipating the destination. And trust that God is going before you and beside you, preparing to surprise you yet again with something unmistakably new, born of unfathomable love.

With you on the journey,

Rev. Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister (

© Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ | 2023