[#pictureAdvent] December 3: WONDER

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By Samantha Cowan
FriendshipWorks
Boston, MA

First, read Luke 1:26-33

Surely you’ve heard by now — it’s the most wonderful time of the year! You know — with the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you “be of good cheer!” There’ll be much mistletoeing and hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near!

This season has a great potential to be filled with wonder. But, it also has great potential for being so jam-packed with prepping those jingle bells and making arrangements for our visiting loved ones that we run right past the awe and curiosity of wonder and try to surround ourselves with certainty and control.

The story of Jesus’ birth begins with a wondering (and an understandably fearful) Mary. When the angel Gabriel comes to her and announces God’s favor and intention for her life, Mary is filled with wonder. And rightly so — she’s just been told that she’s going to give birth to the son of God — a wonder-inspiring event if there ever was one. 

Sometimes God breaks into our lives in a big way and we, like Mary at the angel Gabriel’s announcement, can’t help but wonder. But, sometimes we need to intentionally open ourselves up to wonder! We encourage wondering in children — “Why do you think the birds outside chirp in the morning?” “What do you think could be on the other side of the moon?” “Why do you think your brother acted that way?” Wondering invites us to explore and experience our world and our God with a sense of curiosity and awe.

What are the places or activities where it’s easiest for you to practice wonder? As a child, I would spend a lot of my “wondering time” during the holidays staring at the presents under the Christmas tree, pondering what might be inside all of that wrapping paper. Nowadays, I think of the song line “I wonder as I wander out under the sky…” Wondering is easiest for me when I’m wandering from my typical routine for the day — physically breaking from the familiar helps open my mind and heart to new, wonderful things. Spending time in nature can also help us develop our sense of wonder. Whether it’s taking a walk under a clear night sky or playing in fresh snow, surrounding ourselves with the creation that praises God can lead us into a sense of reverence and awe.   

May the most wonderful time of the year be truly filled with wonder for you!

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

1) Have the wonderings of someone else, maybe a child, ever stopped you in your tracks and invited you to wonder along?

2) Sometimes healthy wondering includes doubting. What are some ways you doubt this Advent season, and can you trust that God wants to meet you this season, even with your doubt?

3) What are the things about this season that do not seem wonder-filled. Are there small things you can do to change your perspective and invite wonder?