I have a confession to make. I have very ill feelings towards what is commonly referred to as “the Advent Season.” No, I haven’t forsaken or fallen away from the faith (I know some of you were thinking that). It’s just that there are so many traditions and ‘beliefs’ associated with the holiday event within the Christian church that seem to have little or nothing to do with “the reason for the season”– aka, Jesus– that it leaves a bad feeling within me (I’m not here to argue my point; I’ve done my homework. Besides, I’m going somewhere else with this).
Problem is, I married into a Christian-family dynamic where Christmas is a BIG DEAL. It’s taken me several years to adjust to this without it feeling like I’ve completely forsaken the pursuit of truth. I’m good now… for the most part. But there are some things that still bother me. I still want to instill in my children a value for truth; not just for “the truth (about ‘Santa’, reindeer, elves and all that). I’m talking about having a value on pursuing, holding onto truth that guides and protects the heart. So, no, elves did not make the gifts they received, and good ol’ St. Nick (who’s legend is actually based on a historic figure) did not slip down the chimney. We try to instill in them ‘the Reason for the season’ as believers in Christ Jesus.
But I’ve got competition. Stiff competition. And it’s good at what it does; namely: all those wonderful Christmas programs which ‘preach’, quite fervently, to ‘believe.’ Believe in Santa (of course he’s real!); believe in the spirit of Christmas; oh, for crying out loud , just believe!! And my kids? Well, they love these shows. Heck, I kinda like them, too. They’re done very well; full of adventure and excitement and… well, full of wonder.
Wonder; struck me like a bolt of lightning. The question came pouring up out of my heart like an erupting volcano: have we lost the “awe”, the “wonder” of God? In our Westernized form of Christianity, has God been reduced to a text book, theolo-gized, ‘cold’ truth, to be studied and memorized, argued and debated about?
Don’t panic; I love to study God’s Word; theology is vitally necessary; and it would do me good to have more of the Scriptures committed to memory. But my vast knowledge of biblical texts and teachings will not captivate the minds and hearts of my kids. Children love adventure and wonder. And actually, American commercial ingenuity has done well at marketing a sense of wonder as it relates to this holiday.
But, may I ask, what can be more awe-inspiring than God? And if we’re not communicating this, then what are we doing wrong? Perhaps I should lift my nose out of the books and take a look at, say, the sunset on a partially clouded evening, or horses running wild in an open field; the night sky, far away from the glow of city lights, where the stars are truly innumerable; Niagara Falls (Canadian side). It’s been years since I’ve been to the Falls, yet the memory of it still stirs up the sense of awe I felt standing at the railing next to those beautifully terrifying torrents pouring over the edge, visually pulling on me with such intensity that I was holding on to the rail for fear I might inadvertently be pulled in! And God made all of this stuff!!
Wonder. It’s what I experience, as a worship facilitator, when suddenly, as we like to say, “God shows up in the room,” and we are utterly undone by His Majesty, His Holiness, The Righteous One, Who’s Name is “Wonderful!” (I tremble just thinking about it). Yet, somehow, I lose this in my day to day, and I think it’s o.k. At least, I did. But if my children are going to know the wonder of God, I’ve got to communicate Him as the wonder that he is. Otherwise, they’ll be instinctively drawn to what is presented to them as awesome and full of wonder, things which may have nothing to to with ‘His Majesty, the Wonderful One.’ Yes, I need to teach them the Scriptures; yes, I need to communicate truth to them. But God forbid (and I really mean that) that I communicate something cold and clinical about the Creator of All Life! I need to show them more than the text book; I need to introduce them to the Author of Life and Living. I need to, somehow, show them ‘the wonder of it all.’
Well, this doesn’t change my sentiments that much about the season, but it sure is an eye-opener. “God, Almighty Father, never, NEVER let me lose sight of the wonder of You; and show me how to communicate that to my family, to my friends… to the world.”
“And the Angel of the Lord said to him, ‘Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?‘ ” (Judges 13:18)