“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 2:17- 20, NIV).
“I can’t believe that it’s time for Christmas already!” I’ve made that exclamation before, and I will no doubt make it again. So have you. For most of us, this is not an expression of wonder and excitement. Instead, it is probably a groan. Unless you are a child, heading into the Christmas season means picking up a frenzied pace. It means shopping, wrapping, decorating, cooking, and preparing for travel or for guests. None of these are bad, of course, for they all represent an expression of our love for others. Nevertheless, they all combine to make us look back after the event and ask, “What happened? Christmas zipped by so quickly that didn’t get to enjoy it!” That seems to be the perspective of Christmas from the adult viewpoint.
The perspective from childhood is a bit different. If I recall accurately from my own childhood, I couldn’t wait for Christmas to get here. It seems like it took forever to arrive. It was a marvelous time of the year as new sights, smells, and tastes abounded almost every day. And waking up to Christmas morning itself… well, who could improve on an experience like that?
So… what happened to that sense of wonderful excitement and anticipation? Adulthood and all the things that go along with it. Yet, whether adult or child, I am convinced that God delights every time that we stop and consider and ponder the wonder of His creation. I recall a Christmas devotional that reminded me of the importance of wonder.
“Elmer Kline, a bakery manager in 1921, was given the job of naming the company’s new loaf of bread. As he struggled to come up with something ‘catchy,’ he found his answer in an unlikely place. While visiting the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he stopped to watch the International Balloon Festival. Later he described the sight of the beautiful hot-air balloons launching into the Indiana sky as one of ‘awe and wonderment.’ The thought stuck, and he called the new product Wonder Bread. To this day, the packaging for Wonder Bread is brightened by colorful balloons” (Bill Crowder, “Wonder,” Our Daily Bread, December 24, 2006).
The only reason that Christmas fails to fill us with “awe and wonderment” anymore is because we allow our self-imposed pressures to crowd out the shepherds’ announcement. What could possibly fill us with more “awe and wonderment” than the birth of the Christ-child?
This year, I encourage you to purposefully set aside time to experience once again the wonder of Christmas. It may be early in the season, or it may be later. Ideas that come to mind include: reading Luke 1-2; listening to favorite sacred music of the season; helping someone in need; attending a Christmas program. You no doubt have additional ways to bring a sense of genuine wonder and joy back into the season, if only for a moment. If God can break into the lives of ordinary folk two thousand plus years ago, He can do so again. Celebrate Christmas with wonder at His love and His coming.
“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.”