Friday, December 3, 2021

Rediscovering Your Christmas Wonder

The room was silent, all the kids’ eyes glued to the gifted storyteller onstage. With expert skill she told the tale of the wise men coming to see Jesus. She said, “Evil King Herod told the wise men to let him know when they’d found the child so he could go and worship Jesus too. But he was lying! He didn’t really want to worship Jesus. He wanted to hurt him!”

Suddenly a first grader gasped and cried out, “WHAT?!”

It was awesome. This was obviously the first time this kid had ever heard the Christmas story, or at least that part of it. He was totally shocked that anyone would ever think about harming Jesus. This was completely new information.

I think of that day every year when I’m preparing to teach for Christmas. It’s a great reminder that I will have kids in the room who will be hearing this incredible story for the very first time. 

That means I have to bring my A-game. I can’t let myself become lazy or bored just because I’ve heard the Christmas story a million times.  I can’t just go through the motions. I have to be fully engaged with the wonder of what God did in Bethlehem.  

As adults it’s easy to lose our sense of awe for the familiar. Many of us have talked about Mary, Joseph and the shepherds so many times, we may begin to see them more as cartoon characters instead of real, breathing humans who experienced the miraculous.  

Think about it. These people were swept up in a cosmic drama, where the entire fate of mankind hung in the balance. They talked with angels. Angels! Not cute, little cherub babies but terrifying beings of unimaginable power. 

And let’s not forget the mind-blowing mystery in the manger. God in the flesh! The Creator King wrapped in swaddling clothes, breathing the air He made, submitting to the gravity He invented, all-powerful but fragile, eternal but newborn, the Author of Life destined for a cross.

How could we tell this story with anything less than jaw-dropping, eye-popping amazement?  

Yet, we do, because we’re human and we’re jaded and we’re busy and stressed with daily life, and we just forget. We forget what it’s like to be a seven-year-old hearing this world-changing true story for the very first time.  

So, if that’s you this year, here are a few ideas to reclaim your wonder and bring your best to the Christmas story:

  1. Pray. Ask God to restore your sense of awe. Repent of any cynicism in your heart. Seek forgiveness for forgetting what He has done. Trust me, I’m right there with you. 
  2. Read the story. I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve taught lessons from a curriculum or from memory without going back and re-reading the text. Read the Christmas story from the Bible! Read in multiple translations. Read it  . . . slowly . . . and think about it.
  3. Step into history. Imagine what it would have been like to be Mary or Joseph or a shepherd. Explore your senses. What would you see, hear, taste, touch and smell throughout these events? Plug into it emotionally. How would you feel if you were in Mary’s shoes when the angel shows up? Imagine being Joseph and hearing Mary’s preposterous news. Use your imagination to engage with this story as if it’s happening today.
  4. Look for creative inspiration. Check out shows like Christmas with the Chosen or a book like Max Lucado’s Cosmic Christmas. Listen to powerful Christmas music and take time to let it sink into your heart. 
  5. Reflect on what the coming of Christ has meant to you. Journal about it. Pray about it. What difference has “God with us” made in your life? Think of where you would be without Jesus.

Take some time this season to grow young again for Christmas. Invite the God who became a baby to blow your mind with the miracle of His love and His presence, and let your child-like worship overflow to all those you teach and lead each day. 

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