For poor on’ry people like you and like I wonder as I wander out under the sky
Christmas is mystery.
The birth of Christ, once for always…again and again, is mystery. God with us, as promise and a presence, is mystery. The late Robert McAffee Brown said, “The starting point for the religious quest is always a confrontation with mystery.”
We have entered into Advent, the four weeks of preparation, getting ready for Christmas. How do we wait for…mystery?
Waiting is an essential part of our existence. When I was a small child, I couldn’t wait to be a teenager. When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to drive. When I learned to drive, I couldn’t wait to go to college. When I went to college, I couldn’t wait to graduate and be all grown up. And now… well, let’s just say I’m not in a rush to get older. At every stage within our lives, there is some new form of waiting we take on.
We begin our waiting with wonder; wonder at the beauty and dazzling diversity of creation; wonder at the mystery and majesty of birth and death, and all the ordinary and extraordinary in between; wonder at devastation and at soul-depth cries for deliverance; and wonder at human cruelty and at the tenacity of the joy.
We wonder at the curious courses and sudden turns of our own lives, at our desperate longing for love and our fear of risking and receiving it. We wonder how it is God so loves us. And we wonder that somehow our stories are connected to each other and this moment in history and are part of God’s greater story of the universe. We wonder at what we see and what God is yearning for us to see; at who we are and how God is being born in us, among us, through us and throughout this world.
As Christmas approaches, we dare to pause. To wonder. We dare to expect the mysterious and miraculous birth of God.
The Prophet Jeremiah says, “The days are surely coming when I will fulfill the promises made…” (Jeremiah 33:14) The Evangelist Luke says, “There will be signs in the sun, the moon and the stars…People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world.” (Luke 21:24-26)
We are called to stand and to raise our heads when we see sings of prophecy and promise, for our redemption is near. We are called to consider wonder around us and to wonder at the nearness of God.
Do we see what God yearns for us to see? I wonder.
The Rev. Eun-Joo Myung is pastor of Federated-Methodist Presbyterian Church. Sermon notes is a column by local religious leaders.