Some people are adrenaline junkies, some people are sports or antique junkies… me? I’m a wonder junkie, I seek out ways to feel a sense of wonder. There is hardly a better time of year for someone like me than Christmas time.
Christmas is a season of wonder, built upon astonishment and bathed in the warm glow of contentment Grudges are often set aside during Yuletide and people who have been harried and buried by the tangle of day-to-day affairs take great pains to ensure that “quality time” is abundant.
Joyful hope, characteristic of the days that precede Christmas, is the essential attitude of the Christian who desires to live fruitfully the renewed encounter with Him who comes to dwell in our midst: Christ Jesus, the Son of God made man. We find this disposition of the heart again, and make it our own, in those who first welcomed the coming of the Messiah: Zachariah and Elizabeth, the shepherds, the simple folk, and especially Mary and Joseph, who themselves felt the tremor, but above all the joy over the mystery of this birth.
In our present Age, we often find it difficult to dredge up a sense of profound wonder. The many technological startlements make us hard to impress when it comes to tantalizing our senses. A passing automobile with booming speakers careening down the streets of Overton is a tired annoyance for me, but would be greeted with terror as a “god” by the ancient Caddo residents of this area. The plentiful feasts available to any modern supercenter shopper would be reckoned an unearthly paradise by the hard-bitten pilgrims of early American colonialism.
However, despite our great material gains, we are bereft of the sense of amazement that imbued many who came before us. We reckon the Nativity story a pleasant fable, to be told and retold tongue in cheek, with little relevance or bearing to our lives. Thus, the reason for the season become less about God’s great gift to the world, and more about our great gifts to our own appetites.
In the night of the world, we must let ourselves be amazed and illumined by this act of God, which is totally unexpected: God becomes a Child. We must let ourselves be filled with wonder, illuminated by the Star that inundated the universe with joy.
May the Child Jesus, in coming to us, not find us unprepared—busy only in making the exterior reality more beautiful and attractive—but longing for the holy within us and all around us.
May the care we give to making our streets and homes more resplendent impel us even more to predispose our soul to encounter Him who will come to visit us.