Advent is a season to prepare your heart for Christmas – Jesus Christ, the coming King. How conflicting it is when schedules collide with shopping, festivities, and the busyness of it all! Is it possible to fulfill Christmas obligations while maintaining a proper perspective of the reason for celebrating?
Yes, and here’s how:
- We Read the Christmas Story Now.
The Christmas Story a short read, but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of its power! The way God prepared Christ’s coming, the angelic encounters, Herod’s desperate attempt to find the child, the glory given to God – it’s all there! This simple discipline will continuously draw you deeper, reminding you each day of Jesus’ birth.
Since it is short, I recommend reading a few verses with supplemental questions to help you engage further with the Word. There are several advent devotionals online; here are a few to get you started:
- https://inspiredandrefreshed.com– 7 free to download too!
- We Sit in Wonder.
Wonder? I wonder what that is?
WONDER – A feeling of surprise mingled with admiration caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.
Isn’t the gist of the Christmas story filled with wonder? Here’s a snippet of what happened with the shepherds on that fateful night:
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:8-12
Talk about wonderful news, indeed!
Here we have simple shepherds – those of a lowly profession, considered social outcasts, with no power of influence; they are the first to hear of the Messiah. These are the people Jesus came for – The downtrodden, the lonely, the shunned, the oppressed, and those who don’t have it all together – it looks like there is hope for all of humanity!
Let’s not forget about the angelic encounter. That’s a wonder to behold. Oh, but wait… there’s more!
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” – Luke 2:13-20
Wonder has captured this scene:
- There are 1,000s of angels glorifying God and declaring God’s favor among humanity
- The shepherds – Marveled and went to see Jesus in the manager – they couldn’t help but praise God!
- The people of Bethlehem – They were amazed at what the shepherds said
- Mary – Treasured and pondered all these things in her heart
The Christmas story isn’t an outlay of facts, although it did happen. It isn’t a tale to be told for only children because its a story for all. The Christmas story should leave us in awe and wonder about who God is and why He came.
I appreciate this quote from Hughes Oliphant Old, an American theologian who specializes in worship:
“Wonder is a deep, profound experience. The typical secular education of our day makes us suspicious or callous to wonder. It seems so unscientific, so unsophisticated, and ultimately, so seemingly unnecessary. So they say. But to lose the sense of wonder is to lose one of the great beauties of life.”
Most people raised in the west, such as those in America, struggle with the concept of wonder; it goes against a scientific and ‘reasonable’ approach to life. While there’s nothing wrong with being rational, isn’t God more than the intellect, sophisticated, the sequential, the logical? Isn’t much of who God is beyond our finite reason and understanding?
When it comes to wonder, I cannot help but think of the Grand Canyon. There are some impressive facts to consider:
- The Grand Canyon is bigger than the state of Rhode Island
- The Grand Canyon is 1 mile deep, 277 miles long, and 18 miles wide!
Remarkable, right? But how much more impressive is it when you are standing at the edge of the canyon and witnessing it with your own eyes? While facts can be fascinating, what makes an impression on the soul is what you experience.
This example isn’t a plug for a road trip to Arizona. Instead, it’s a call to sit before the Lord and be in wonder of who He is and what He continues to do! Thankfully, this can be done every day as preparation for Christmas:
- Staring into the face of an innocent child
- Thinking about those divine appointments that could never be coincidental
- Dwelling on God’s grace in unexpected times in your life
- Taking five minutes to unplug and declare God’s goodness
Being in a position of wonder reminds us that we don’t know everything and we trust in God who knows all things!
Blaise Pascal, a brilliant inventor, physicist, and mathematician, invented the adding machine in the 1600s. His intellectual gifting didn’t put him at odds with the Bible; he pressed into the deep things of God as a philosopher and said:
“The last proceeding of reason is to recognize that there is an infinity of things which are beyond it.”
What is beyond shouldn’t leave us to doubt but to wonder what God is up to. As you read more of the Christmas story, open your heart by placing yourself in the story – what would it be like to see a host of angels in the sky as shepherds? Imagine holding the Messiah in your arms. Ponder on what this means for such a young girl as Mary. Take time to reflect and respond in wonder – to what God has done in the Christmas story and to what He is doing to your story – He is truly wonderful!
“May we never lose our wonder. Wide-eyed and mystified, may we be just like a child, staring at the beauty of our King.” – Amanda Cook
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6
Blessings in Jesus’ Name,