Summary: Of greater concern than the commercialization of Christmas is the trivialization of Christmas. This message seeks to rekindle the AWE that is a fundamental doorway into an authentic experience of God.
DISCOVER THE WONDER
Let’s have a little fun together...
-I want each of you to think of a number between 1-9.
-Now multiply that number by nine.
-Add the digits of your answer together (if 35, 3 + 5 = 8).
-Now subtract five.
-Now if A=1, B=2, C=3 etc., what letter is represented by the number you have now?
-Now think of a country beginning with that letter.
-Next think of a mammal beginning with the LAST letter of that country.
-Next think of a fruit beginning with the LAST letter of that animal.
So you all started out with different numbers, and now you’re thinking of a country, an animal and a fruit. Let me see if I can read someone’s mind out there... This doesn’t make much sense... There aren’t many kangaroos living in Denmark who eat oranges, are there?
Were you surprised? Maybe just a little bit amazed?
(NOTE: approx. 98% will have that answer. Only 2% will come up with different answers. Some may have a Koala in Denmark who likes apples. An even smaller number will have picked one of two other “D” countries, like Dominican Republic or Djibouti.)
That’s one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about magic. That sense of surprise — that “How did he do that?” feeling.
Magic tricks catch us off guard, and when they’re done really well by a master, they can leave us with a sense of wonder or amazement... and maybe even awe. But in the end we know it’s really just a trick — all smoke and mirrors — and if we knew the secret, we wouldn’t be all that amazed.
Take a moment and think about a time when you felt a genuine sense of awe and wonder...
-maybe it was gazing up into a star-filled sky
-contemplating the beauty of creation
-the power of a storm
-the grandeur of a sunset
-the delicate nature of as rose
-the intricacies of a snowflake
-or the miracle of birth
This morning I’d like to suggest to you that a fundamental doorway into the experience of God is AWE.
The Psalmist once put it this way...
"LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what are mere mortals that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!" Psalm 8:1;3;4;9 (TNIV)
Awe and wonder opens our eyes to the full reality of God’s presence.
But awe is also something that’s vanishing from our culture... Mystery is out — certainty is in. Let’s face it, these are uncertain times. We all face the unpredictable and the unknown... so we want certainty — concrete knowledge and stability. We want it tasted, touched, felt, and measured.
But with that desire we’ve paid a price. Listen to one writer explaining this predicament...
“The trouble is that there is usually in our society nothing to wonder about any more. You don’t often find wonder present in most churches either. After all, what is there to wonder about? Why should there be any mystery in the average congregation? We know all about God.
“We’ve got God all figured out, because we know our Bibles so well. We study and listen to sermons — in person and by means of cassette. We read books that explain what God and the Christian life are all about. We’ve outlined the Bible, analyzed God and the history of the ages. What can therefore, illicit wonder in our lives?
“Furthermore, we live a space age, and have watched rockets and space shuttles take off and return. We’ve witnessed man walk on the moon. Thanks to TV documentaries, we’ve seen everything from the conception of a baby to the eruption of a volcano. We’ve watched flowers grow; fish spawn; and stars become super novas. There’s no more mystery.”
You’ve had that feeling right? “Been there, done that, even bought the T-Shirt.” One study of life in America found the most common feeling among Americans is: boredom. That’s right — the people living on earth with the most choices and opportunities, we yawn our way though life. “Been there, done that.”
But the truth is that we were created for wonder... for life in a far greater story. And fairy-tales and fantasies are reflections of those deep human longings.
For centuries humans have thirsted for fantasylands — places of mystery and adventure. And storytelling is the one form of communication that has transcended all generations and cultures. We hunger for other worlds; to go beyond our familiar streets into the land of tales — whether it’s “Through the Looking Glass”, over the rainbow to Oz; into Middle-Earth, off to Hogwarts, or to a galaxy far, far away. We want to know that there’s something beyond, that there is something out there.