by David Brickner | November 17 2022
Recently we had houseguests—including an adorable three-year-old boy named Levi. Everything he saw was so new and wonderful to him, and he kept asking me, “Why? Why? Why?” I found myself explaining why our dog Nola barked, why my hot tub water was hot, why the toast popped up out of our toaster, and so much more. Levi was very charming, and I enjoyed his enthusiasm.
Sadly, adults often lose that sense of wonder we had as children. It’s easy to become less reflective about life. Often our questions are more about solving problems than being fascinated with the wonderful things around us.
This Advent season, I have been praying that God will help me recapture that sense of wonder over the Incarnation of our Messiah, Jesus. There is nothing new about the event itself, but I know that there are still depths of its beauty and power that I have yet to discover. I want to be alive to those discoveries, and I find myself praying that for you as well.
Reawakening our sense of wonder will produce joy in our hearts and praise on our lips. It is a sure way to enjoy this Christmas season—but there is more. Our wonder and joy can be contagious and create an inviting atmosphere for people to explore who Jesus is.
This Christmas, I am focusing very intentionally on three things to bring renewed wonder to my heart, using the story of the shepherds in Luke 2 as my guide. Maybe you’ll want to join me.
First, I am thinking about the spectacular announcement of the Savior’s birth that the shepherds witnessed: “Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is please!’” (Luke 2:13–14).
Few of us have experienced such an overwhelming supernatural display, but all of us can experience the greatest supernatural revelation of Jesus available: the Holy Scriptures. God’s Word provokes wonder as we invite the Holy Spirit to cleanse us by “the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:26).
This Advent season, I am reigniting my wonder by meditating on 25 Bible “announcements” that will prepare my heart to welcome the Lord. You can find multiple online resources that offer Advent readings. I am using one produced by Lifeway, but many other Advent calendars also provide a wonderful selection.
Second, I am thinking about what the shepherds did after the announcement. Following the incredible revelation of angels from heaven proclaiming that the Messiah had finally come, this ordinary group of Israeli shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us” (Luke 2:15). They responded to the revelation as a holy interruption. It motivated them to set aside their ordinary routine—to get up and go see.
I am asking God to give me that kind of intentional response to His revelation. How many times have I heard a great message in church without allowing it to interrupt my life or to motivate me to go beyond my routine?
Let’s not just be hearers of the Word but doers as well (James 1:23–25). The shepherds were moved to go see Jesus.
We can’t make a journey back in time to go see baby Jesus in a manger. But we can interrupt our regular routines as we pray and meditate. We can do something different, intentional, as we focus on Him.
In Jewish tradition, the beauty of lighting the candles is one of the highlights of welcoming the Sabbath. Similarly, the beauty of Advent candles can provide a visual for seeing the beauty of the Savior and welcoming Him in a fresh way. During Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles), it’s Jewish tradition to decorate our temporary dwelling places. Do you intend to decorate your home for Advent this year? If you do, why not make a prayerful effort to do so as unto the Lord, so that the visual beauty of your home environment is not merely festive, but a meditation and reflection of the beauty of the Savior’s birth?
Third, I am focusing on what the shepherds did once they had seen baby Jesus. They didn’t keep this good news to themselves. They went out to share the message: “And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them…. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” (Luke 2:18, 20).
The shepherds were so filled with the wonder of Jesus that it burst out as they told others the joyful news. And all who heard them glorifying and praising God wondered as well. I want my love for the Savior and my own sense of wonder at His birth to be contagious and to draw others to join me in that wonder.
We can’t ensure how those who hear and see us will respond, but we can be seen and heard giving thanks and praise. We can turn a perfunctory “Season’s Greetings” or even a “Merry Christmas” into a prayer for blessing. I’m thinking of telling people, “May the joy of Jesus’ birth fill your heart and your home this year.” You might want to come up with your own warmhearted greeting to provoke wonder as you wander about your daily business—and your greeting may even launch a few gospel conversations.
This month presents special opportunities for our staff around the world to speak with Jewish people about Jesus. As you think of the shepherds who could not keep the news of Jesus to themselves, please remember to pray for your missionaries.
If you have Jewish friends, you might find that some are inexplicably touched by the beauty of the season. Christmas carols are a particularly powerful part of that beauty, so don’t be shy about inviting a Jewish friend to come to a concert to hear them. Lyrics like “born is the King of Israel” have provoked many to wonder, Who is this King of Israel you are singing about?
My favorite carol is “O Holy Night.” When I sing “fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices,” I often get a lump in my throat and want to do just that: fall on my knees.
How about you? How might the Incarnation become a holy interruption that fills you with wonder? How might it lead you to bless others with the good news?