From a childhood without a lot of great family memories, Christmas Eve stands out. I remember that days before, I would often lie near our tree and just look up at the lights and be filled with wonder by the beauty of them. And then Mom would lay out the presents and more wonder would follow as I imagined what might be found under all that wrapping paper. The anticipation built on Christmas Eve, as that was when our family opened all but one of our presents. (A “big one” was saved for opening on Christmas morning.) In the evening, my grandmother would come over and she and my mom would fix pancakes and sausage. As I type, I can smell the sausage! We would eat and then were forced to wait until all the dishes were washed and put away before we could open our presents. It was for years the longest hour of my life! You probably have different memories, but similar ones of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Through the lenses of a child, there is so much wonder and excitement around this time of year.
Another memory I have is the annual tour around town to look at Christmas lights. My dad would drive us around in the station wagon through downtown and various neighborhoods to see them. I loved seeing the various displays. All the different colors of lights lining rooftops and windows and the displays depicting Santa and his reindeer, or the Nativity. They just created wonder in my little mind.
Just the other day, my wife and I were talking about the sense of wonder and how, for so many, there just isn’t much, particularly when it comes to God’s creation and his work among us. There is so much to distract us, so much to grab our attention—particularly technology of various sorts. It is fascinating to me that people can be so drawn in by virtual reality, and by the CGI used in movies and video games, yet be rather ho-hum about God’s creation all around them.
Often on clear mornings, year-round, I will step out onto our deck and look up at the stars in wonder at the vastness of the heavens. And often I think about how people for thousands of years have looked up and seen the same celestial landscape. Or when I hike, I take in a vista and marvel at the majesty of the Creator. Creation is vast and majestic, but it is also small and intricate, like a flower, a honeybee, or even something invisible to the naked eye, such as a molecule or atom, but still with an obvious creative intricacy. There is wonder in everything that God creates if only we have the eyes to see it.
When I think of Jesus speaking of having a child-like faith, I think he meant more than just an inherent trust common to young children. I think he also had in mind that sense of wonder that is natural to them. Children were drawn to him, not because of his wisdom or great teachings, or even as a result of his miracles. I think they were in wonder of him because of his sheer presence.
Can we say the same? Do we experience the wonder of his presence in his creation or through the work he does in our lives and in those around us? At this time of year, do we experience the wonder at such love and sacrifice of God the Father and God the Son? Imagine sending your child on a 30+ year misson with the objective being to give over his life to those and for those who hated him or were in rebellion against him. Imagine being safe and secure in unimaginable luxury and then voluntarily leaving to reside in a wretched slum. Ah, the wonder of it!
What a perfect time to seek to recapture the wonder of our childhood, which came so naturally to us. Wonder that drinks in the beauty of our God, his deep and unfathomable love for us, and all the wonderful gifts he has given us.
To all of you, may you have a blessed and wonderous Christmas!
© Jim Musser 2019