Sunday December 6, 2015 | Greg Boyd
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.
For children, Christmas is a time filled with wonder and awe. But as we grow, we tend to lose our sense of wonder and awe not only about Christmas, but about our world, our lives, and everything else! We all innately long to return “home” – home to a place where love overwhelms us and all things are new and glorious – and we long for someone who will take us there. But could that ever really happen? Praise God, for as wondrous and awe-inspiring as it sounds, that’s exactly what Jesus did for us on that first Christmas!
Wonder and amazement characterized the entire life and ministry of Jesus, and it all starts with the Christmas story. Child psychologists often say that the first emotion humans experience is “wonder”. Our brains are amazed by all that we discover, and you can see it in the eyes of children who are seeing the world with fresh eyes and discovering the world with fresh hearts.
Children experience Christmas in that same way – with wonder and amazement. Memories of Christmas can be filled with awe because it was a magical time for us as children. But as we grow up, the wonder fades. When we find out that Santa isn’t real, it’s not only the wonder of Christmas that we lose, but the wonder of childhood as well. We still want to be awed and amazed, we still want to believe that the world is still truly amazing and wonderful, but that belief fades away. As adults, we even fake that sense of wonder for the benefit of our kids, like when we say, “Oh wow, look at that Christmas tree!” But for us, the world has lost its wonder, and our hearts have lost the sense of awe. We tend to get bored with life. We lose our curiosity. Will we ever again experience anything as being extraordinary again – as more than we hoped for or imagined?!
We intensely long for this experience again in the core of our being. Adults sense a longing for “home”, or for “more”. It’s this innate experience within us that makes us desire to escape the hum-drum world, and to experience again the wonders in life that once filled us with awe.
C. S. Lewis was an atheist at Oxford University who wondered why we feel dissatisfied with our world, and why we long for something more. If we’re just products of nature, how can we long for more than nature could ever provide? He eventually concluded that this innate experience is there to point us to something – and that something is Jesus Christ. We’re dissatisfied with this world because this isn’t the world we were designed to live in. We long for more because we were meant for more.
According to the Bible, we are a fallen race that has been alienated from our maker and from our home. And at some level, every one of us wants to be home again. This “longing” within us helps us to search for our home and for our maker, and it leads us to the Christmas story – the birth of Jesus – which is filled with wonder and awe!
We long to re-experience that wonder-filled life that we got a taste of when we were children. We long to be reconnected to our creator. We long to be loved unconditionally. We long to experience the glory of God. And these are the very things that Jesus came to earth to bring to us – these are the things that Christmas is all about! Jesus IS the wonderful, amazing God who is the object of our desire, the source of our life, and the giver of all good things! And each Christmas we are reminded that the God of this universe – the very same God who spoke everything into being and continues to hold it all in existence – out of love for us came to this earth as a newborn baby, to an unwed peasant couple, as a self-sacrifice that would lead to the restoration of our relationship with Him. If that’s not amazing and wonderful, what is?!
Try these three things this Christmas season: 1) Hear that story freshly this year – as if you’ve never heard it before. Ask the spirit to help you imagine and understand what the Christmas story is really about, and what it really means for you. 2) Follow that innate longing inside you by entering into prayer, and don’t constrain your imagination but ask the Holy Spirit to lead you as you re-experience who and what you’ve longed for. 3) Ask the Spirit to continually help you to experience the world with fresh eyes and a fresh heart.
In Jesus we find the love we’ve been longing for. In Jesus we return to the home we’ve been missing. In Jesus, the wonder of our childhood, and of our world, and of our lives is restored, because He makes all things new! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Cor. 5:17 (NKJV)
Link for the video clip that was used in the sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmoWtjtQVH0