Recapturing Wonder

Last weekend, we took our kids to a Living Nativity at one of the local churches down the road. It was incredible. We got taken on a walking tour through the nativity story , complete with angels, real goats, sheep and donkeys, a bustling Bethlehem marketplace with tax collectors and stalls. I walked around with my kids and at every stop, it was like The Christmas Story became alive to them.

I sat back and I thought what Christmas meant to me personally – as a 30 something adult. So Christmas means planning a trip to church (would it be Christmas eve or Christmas Day? Which service time? After present opening? Before?) Christmas means making sure the tree is up, that my kids are ready for Father Christmas (milk? check. cookies? check. reindeer treats were a late addition last year – should I prepare for that too?) and that they understand why we’re celebrating Christmas in the first place. Christmas means less traffic in Joburg, hot summer days in the swimming pool. As I sat watching my babies journey quite literally through the Christmas story, petting a donkey (a real one, yes) while baby Jesus slept in the manger, I knew that I’d lost it. It was there – I could see it on my babies’ faces – but I’d lost mine.

The WONDER and AWE of Christmas.

The Saviour of the world is born, in a stable. He laid aside His majesty (as the song says) and stepped onto earth, to eventually die for me. Joseph – a brave young man willing to believe in a message and a promise. Mary – carrying that promise, carrying the hope of the world. It’s the greatest story ever told – where did I lose my sense of wonderment at that? Where along the way, did I forget to marvel at the amazing miracle of this?

I think Christmas to me, has become more about parties than peace. More about rushing than resting. More about festivities than faith. More about work than wonder. I think as I’ve walked through adulthood, I’ve forgotten to just sit, in quiet reflection and just marvel at what actually happened. I’ve just not taken time to bask in the revelation of Jesus and His entrance onto earth. How absolutely astounding that really is.

Kids have a way of teaching you more about your faith than they ever realise. My kids point me more towards Jesus than any other influence in my life because their faith is so boundless, and so expectant. As I celebrate with my family, I’m going to take a moment to soak up the wonderment I see on their faces at as they experience the story of Jesus’s birth. I hope that I can envelope some of that into my own heart this year.

One of my best Christmas albums is JOY! by Steven Curtis Chapman. In fact, he’s one of my best artists of all time. On that album is a song called I Am Joseph, and the final verse goes like this:

So let’s all gather at the manger

And bring all our hopes and hurts and fears

All of our unworthiness and shame

Knowing every one of us is the reason that He came

This year, I want to be a child again. I want to kneel next to the manger, peer into the cradle filled with hay, and gaze at the baby – knowing how imperfect, unworthy and flawed  I am and He still chose to come. The baby who left glory, to become flesh – everyone of us, every single one including you, is the reason that He came.

Our God is with us. He is for us all.

That’s a miracle.

That’s wonder-filled.

That’s Christmas.

PS: If you want to hear that song by SCC, here it is. It’s incredible and it inspired a lot of this post: