Finding Wonder in This Season
Bonnie and I were talking the other day about that elusive “Christmas feeling” and how we as adults often seem to miss that sense of wonder we had when we were children. When you’re a child, the Christmastime air is crisp like never before, the smell of cookies suddenly wafts through the familiar space of your home, the lights of the Christmas tree captivate you with their twinkle, and your hopes that colorfully-wrapped presents will appear under that tree tend not to be dashed. Not to mention the warm embrace of extended family, the special programs at church, and the celebrations that you wish could go on and on throughout the year. Everything seems sparkly and twinkly and magical at Christmastime.
But when you’re an adult, you become burdened with the responsibilities of making that all happen. You’re the one who has to put up and decorate that tree, bake those cookies, negotiate the impossible scheduling conflicts of family members (not to mention all the other family conflicts), plan menus, do the shopping in crowded stores, and figure out a way to pay for it all. These sorts of things easily rob you of that sense of wonder you had when you were a child.
But it strikes me that if any time of year should instill in us a sense of wonder, it’s Christmastime. God incarnate coming to earth to be our Savior. Foretold by prophets of old. Born of a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit. Angels appearing in the sky over Bethlehem. Shepherds finding the baby Jesus in a stable. Magi visiting from lands afar. Guided by a mysterious star. This is all stuff of wonder—more than colored lights or baking or presents.
So the last several Christmases I’ve decided to embrace wonder, whether I have that “Christmas feeling” or not. And when I do, I discover that wonder is truly there to be found. I especially like the way my friend Gavin Ellis (Bethany member and fellow ordained ECC pastor) suggested finding wonder in a recent Twitter thread:
As we enter this final week of Advent, come upon the longest night of the year, and prepare for Christmas, I encourage you to open yourself to Wonder. There’s something about this season that makes us more ready for it, but sometimes we refuse to give ourselves space for the childlike wonder we need right now. Go outside on a crisp cold night and gaze at the stars that are so clear, look for a Bethlehem star to guide your way, or listen to the world around you for angel song celebrating Messiah’s birth. Or maybe just take a break from the mundane to open yourself up to the impossible. There is something wonderful, filled with wonder, about this time; a thinness to it where we realize how close God truly is. But I worry that we busy and cynic ourselves out of the Wonder the season brings.
This Christmastime, may you all find that sense of wonder that is Jesus Christ, the Child in a Manger, the Savior of the World!