This Child Gives Us Wonder

Luke 2:1-7 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

There may be nothing which infuriates modern man more than to be told there are things he will never be able to understand. It strikes at his pride. It challenges and limits his ambitions. Sooner or later, he reasons, science, exploration, and education will unlock every secret and solve every mystery.

And so, he loses the ability to appreciate that response which so fills every child whose eyes are just opening up to the beauty and complexity of the world: the ability to look at it all with awe and wonder. The child who sees the caterpillar turn into a butterfly for the first time may not understand how the process works (and modern man understands far less than he is willing to admit) but at least the child can appreciate the simple beauty and wonder in front of him. The wise men of this age see only phenomena to be dissected, studied, analyzed and, finally, conquered.

You can’t do that with the birth of Christ at Christmas. At first glance this birth looks ordinary enough. If there is anything extraordinary about it, it is the meanness and the humility of the whole affair: the poor couple unable to find lodging after a long journey, the first-time mother giving birth in a shelter for animals.

These details, however, simply add to the wonder. Every birth is a miracle of itself, but no birth has ever been more miraculous than this one. Now God himself, the Maker and Ruler of all things, joins the human race. The Creator of all becomes a part of his own creation, and he does so in such weakness, and poverty. The God who is bigger than the entire universe lies in the manger.

This “great and mighty wonder,” this “glorious mystery,” is not a phenomenon for human investigation. It is a miracle. It calls for our wide-eyed, open-mouthed adoration and worship as this Child gives us wonder.

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