Friday, December 16, 2011

The Wonder

Mary...wondered...    Luke 1:29

"It's Christmas Day!" said Scrooge to himself. "I haven't missed it.  The Spirits have done it all in one night.  They can do anything they like.  Of course they can.  I don't know what to do!" cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laoco├Ân of himself with his stockings.  "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy.  A merry Christmas to everybody!"    A Christmas Carol

Maybe I have been around the block too many times, maybe I have too many years under my belt.  Whatever the reason, I am mourning one aspect of my growing up.  I have lost some of the wonder of Christmas!  Wait, that is not fully true...I have lost the wonder of a lot of things.  I'm on a quest to recover wonder; a quest encouraged by God's Holy Spirit.

I had an encounter last night with God in Luke 1.  Reflecting on Mary receiving the news from the angel Gabriel, one of her responses was wonder!  Having the angel Gabriel appear to you is cause enough for wonder.  (Or in Mary's case, terror!)  Do you blame her?  A teenager being told that she, as a virgin, will conceive a child, not just any child but the long-awaited (400-years awaited) Messiah, would cause anyone to wonder.  I found myself longing for wonder, longing to be caught up in the mystery, the majesty, the grandness of life in general, eternal life in particular, the incarnation specifically.

I am sure God has not stopped being wonder-full!  He never changes (Hebrew 13:5).  I am sure I (I can't speak for you) have filled my life with wonder-quenchers.  Here are a few I journaled about last night:
  • I move too fast to notice wonder. 
  • I don't pause long enough to allow wonder to percolate.
  • I am not mentally and spiritually disciplined enough to be trained to access wonder.
  • There is too much noise and mind-clutter to hear wonder.
  • I am too self-focused to see God's wonder.
I wonder if you have the same problem?  I wonder if we have moved so far away from this experience that we don't believe it is accessible anymore?  We know heaven will be filled with wonder, we just don't believe the Kingdom of God on earth least for adults.

Kids get this all too well: They are more open to mentor us in this regard, but we are too prideful to stop and let them!  Just this morning as I was driving my sweet 10-year-old Isabella to school, she mentored me about the wonder of the human condition.  We were marveling at this morning's sky and its cloud formation, which was breathtaking.

"The Bible says that the heavens declare the glory of God, Belle." I commented.

"Dad, she said, "Nature is so amazing.  What if every time we sinned, an aspect of nature turned grey?  I bet we would sin less."

I marveled.  I think this is why Jesus, when he placed a child on his lap, exhorted us to become like a child, in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Mark 10:15).

In the book that was formative in my life more than a decade ago, Dangerous Wonder, Mike Yaconelli said: "The greatest enemy of Christianity may be people who say they believe in Jesus but who are no longer astonished and amazed. We have forgotten how to dance, how to sing, and how to laugh.  We have allowed technology to beat our imaginations into submissions and have become tourists rather than travelers.  We have been stunned by mediocrity... The Christian life is more than finding Jesus - it is following Jesus."

Would you ask God to fill you with wonder this Christmas season?  Would you pray for Christmas Eve and our four gatherings that night, that God's Spirit would overshadow us with the wonder of His character?

This weekend we have yet another opportunity for wonder as we look at one final person in Jesus' family tree.  I promise you won't want to miss this Sunday, and it will prepare your heart well to celebrate Christmas.

I love being your pastor!