The gift of mystery.
For those of you reading this post that know me well, it is no secret that I live much of my life with my head in the clouds. I am the consummate dreamer. I love to look on the horizon and imagine what could be that isn’t. The result of that tends to be a relative contentment with chaos. I’m ok with not knowing all the details. In fact, for me, there is a measure of comfort in the mystery of the unknown and unknowable.
All human beings are finite in nature, which naturally gives way to the simple reality, we can’t know everything.
Mystery is part of the human experience.
Some of us handle that better than others, but all of us, at some point or another come face to face with something we don’t know, and have to figure out how we are going to deal with the mystery.
The story of advent invites us to not only accept our nature as limited, but to, in an ultimate sense embrace the mystery that comes with it, and marvel in the wonder it offers.
The sheer volume of unexplainable events within the Christmas narrative, forces us to a place of wonder.
Son of God? Virgin birth? A magic star? Angels filling the sky?
Friends, these things don’t make sense…
I am convinced that the commercialization of Christmas has stolen the mystery from it all. We put out manger scenes, that look like they are set on a farm somewhere in the middle of Iowa. Naturally, they are complete with a pale skinned, blonde hair, blue eyed baby Jesus, that somehow brings him down to a level we can understand. We put angels or stars on the top of Christmas trees, in an attempt to paint for ourselves a picture of the first Christmas that fits within the framework of life as we know it, all the while, unknowingly de-mystifying the events surrounding the first Christmas.
So what right? Anything that might help us better understand the story?
I’m not convinced.
I believe that God desires that we regularly bump up against our human limitations, leading us to a place of wonder. The problem is, we hate not knowing, because we hate not feeling in control. Somewhere in human history, we decided that the words, “I don’t know,” are a sign of weakness… so we refuse to put ourselves in a position to every feel it.
I fear, the unintended consequences of seeking to “understand everything,” steals the mystery this story was intended inspire within our hearts.
Mystery makes us wonder, and wonder is the gateway to genuine worship.
The first people to hear about the birth of the saving Lord, understood this well…
The shepherds… out in the fields, keeping their flocks that night. When the sky, suddenly filled with angles, proclaiming the birth of the King. Their response to this unexplainable event? Wonder. That led them to the place where Jesus lay.
“Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see!”
Their willingness to embrace the mystery, even become captive to it, allowed them to experience the impossible in a way most of us only dream.
They were willing to wonder. They were willing to be amazed, they were willing to embrace the mystery that this night was intended to gift to us.
Have you lost the freedom to wonder? Are you allowing, “What’s possible,” to steal the mystery of advent?
Every time we are faced with something we don’t know, we are invited into the advent story. We are invited to push away the desire to figure it out, and embrace the gift of mystery, that moves our hearts to a place of worship.
May your hearts be filled with wonder this Christmas as you embrace the mystery of the Advent season.