Wonder: The Mystery of Light Dr. Jon Morrissette - 12/2/2018 One of the first casualties of Christmas is a sense of wonder. Think back to when you were a child. You had an insatiable sense of wonder. My brothers and I would count the days to Christmas. We’d stay up late, starring into the night sky. We’d whisper back and forth in our bunk bed, contemplating the profound mysteries of the North Pole, of Santa Clause and his Elves, of toy workshops (probably hidden in glaciers), of flying reindeer. The only thing that put us to sleep Christmas Eve was sheer exhaustion. Exhaustion from all the excitement and anticipation that Santa would come in his sleigh. Somewhere along the way were told to set aside childish ways and grow up. The veil gets lifted. Our sense of wonder gets de-programmed. Our hopes are dashed. And this happens by what, 1stor 2nd grade? Once our sense of wonder dies it takes nothing short of a miracle for it to be resurrected! It’s not just the wonder of Santa that is a casualty. It’s also the truer, deeper, actual reality of Christmas we let die. Just like our childhood friends told us it was childish to believe in Santa, people tell us its childish to believe in Jesus. By the time I was in high school, there was a concerted effort to de-program any Christian thought, and its only intensified from there. To most people, believing in Jesus, in the Bible, is just like believing in Santa. At what age did your wonder of Jesus die? Maybe you never believed? This Christmas you can rekindle a sense of wonder. Another word for wonder is mystery. Another is miracle. Still another is phenomenon. Something spectacular has happened—and its so wonderous we cannot keep it to ourselves. We really can’t. In John 3:19 the Bible says, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world.” One of the oldest, most common metaphors for illumination, is Light. A secular person is just as likely to use this metaphor as a religious person. When have you had a question, and someone’s said, “Let me shine some light on that …” When Jesus came into the world he did NOT say, “Let me shine some light on this or that…” In John 8:12 Jesus says something far more profound: He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Now if someone comes along and says, “let me shine light on your problem…” you’d be thankful (assuming their competent to help you with your problem!) There is a certain store I go to, and there is a clerk that is so eager to dispense advice. They are so confident. But they don’t know what they are talking about, so I’m always like, “Thanks but no thanks!” Lara is so great, she runs interference, while I try to get in/out. What Jesus said is, “I AM the light of the world…” i.e. “my very life illuminates all of life.” If someone claimed this, you would contemplate it a split microsecond but then you’d be like: “say what? You’re the light? Really? Thanks, but no thanks!” If you run in non-Christian circles, people are quite blunt about this. They’ll ask, “How can you seriously believe in Jesus? Why haven’t you blown off this Jesus stuff?” *The reason we persist in faith, is because Jesus HIMSELF brings light to three of life’s biggest mysteries. First, Jesus illuminates Faith… Decades ago Michael Jackson sang that lyric “The Man in the Mirror.” Some people have never met a mirror they didn’t like. I’m one of those guys, I’ve never met a mirror that liked me! But seriously. Have you ever deeply looked at the man (or woman) in the mirror? Have you ever just starred, deep into your own eyes, and asked, “Who am I?” And not just what in the world am I, but “What in the universe… what in the galaxy… what in the galaxy of galaxies… what in the the universe of multi-verses?” The Chemist tells you you’re a chemical burb. The biologist tells you you’re a complex, highly-evolved slime-ball. The mathematician tells you you’re an anomaly, so statistically improbable, it defies any kind of quantifiable explanation. The astronomer tells you you’re some kind of really funky, living, breathing star dust. The philosopher tells you a figment of your own imagination, you are nothing more and nothing less that whatever you think you are. The celebrity, entertainer, comedian ridicules you for even daring to wonder. I have no doubt, that when it comes to saving face you’ll deny this… but the truth is that you absolutely, unequivocally, intuitively know that you are a special creation. That person looking back at you in the mirror is someone so amazing, so unique, so fearfully and wonderfully made. No matter how sophisticated the case some intellectual makes to the contrary, you are a NOT a zero. You can’t accept anything less. You are God’s special creation, his beloved. There is room for you this Christmas to cultivate a sense of wonder about “Who You Are.” The reason people can’t shake off their belief in Jesus, is because Jesus’ life better answers who we are than anything else we’ve been told to believe. (1) You were carefully CREATED by the very hand of God. Colossians 1:16, “Everything was created by him… through him… for him.” Psalm 139:13-14 says, “… it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably/wondrously made.” You are not at accident, anomaly, you were created, you are known, you are loved by the Living God. (2) You are faithfully SUSTAINED by the very hand of God. Colossians 1:17, “He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.” There is a reason the universe, the earth, life is orderly and hasn’t spun into total chaos. The power of God holds all things together (and if you’ll trust God, he’ll hold things together in your life that have gotten out of control). There is a reason energy seems to be eternal and despite all scientific explanation, never fizzes out. It’s because God perpetually sustains and energizes all things (and if you’ll trust God, he’ll energize/sustain you through whatever darkness you might face). Just because a person has a sophisticated way of dismissing God doesn’t make them anymore right. Beginnings don’t begin themselves. Nothing didn’t give rise to something. Something dead didn’t give rise to life. Dead things don’t’ spontaneously combust into living things ever. Impersonal matter (in whatever state) doesn’t magically take on Personality and Personhood. Unconsciousness dead objects didn’t suddenly develop self-consciousness, self-awareness, and subjectivity. Inert things didn’t just develop a sense of sight, taste, hearing, smell, touch, nor a sixth sense of intuition. Cold, dead, predictable, immutable laws of the universe didn’t just spontaneous violate themselves to create diversity, uniqueness, beauty, creativity, variety, variation, change. Don’t let anyone deny you the freedom to Wonder. To look up into that night sky, and contemplate eternal things, your Creator, your Sustainer, Your Lord/God. Psalm 19:1-2, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge.” Psalm 14:1, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There’s no God.’” The fool no longer wonders! The fool no longer worships! Romans 1:19-23, “What can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse. For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…” Here is how the gospel writer John introduces Jesus. John 1:1-5, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him, not one thing created has been created. Life was in him, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory of the One and Only Son [sent] from the Father, full of grace and truth.” This Christmas let God resurrect a sense of wonder! Not only is God really there, but he came into the world, that he’d become fully known. Jesus promised, “ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you.” Give yourself permission this Christmas to seek hard after God. Second, Jesus illuminates Love. In John 3:19-20 the Bible says, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.” Jesus reveals that our fatal flaw isn’t intellectual so much as its moral. We’re estranged from God. We don’t love God. We run/hide. We hate God. We love darkness. We don’t love people. Our deeds evil. Ouch! Let me ask. What is the one thing the world cries out for more than anything else at Christmas? What is it, that the world most needs, by its own assessment? Is it an iPhone? If everyone in the world had an iPhone, would the world be a better place? If everyone had food enough, clothing enough, shelter enough, money enough? Time and again we’re told, every song, every movie, “What the world needs now… is love sweet love.” Love! But what is love, if not a moral matter? People are so sentimental about love at Christmas. But what is the love that’s needed? And where can we find such love, and receive such love? And how can such love be produced? Love is part of the wonder of Christmas. We can be sentimental about love, or we can point people to the substantive, healing love of God. Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” In John 13:34 Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 3:16-17 says, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” It takes courage to face the truth about ourselves. Most people would rather run from the light, than face hard truths. God doesn’t reveal our sin to show us who we are, but to show us who he is! He doesn’t reveal our sin to condemn us, but rather to show us his own love, his own power, his own mercy/grace, his own goodness. God longs to heal us, that we can become like him, in his love. Give yourself permission this Christmas to contemplate the wonder of God’s love. The Apostle Paul prays in Ephesians 3:18-19 that, “you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Third, Jesus illuminates Hope. One of the most amazing verses in the Bible is the announcement about Jesus’ birth in Matthew 4:16, “The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.” Is there anything harder to deal with during the Holidays than having lost a loved one? Thursday night, George Bush passed away. He had told one of his granddaughters that for most of his life he had feared dying. But as of late, he looked forward to death. His hope was to see those who’d gone before him. So many people express hope, perhaps in a sentimental way. But what is the substantive basis for hope? The Christian has hope for one reason, and one reason only… because One came, and died, was raised, and ascended to the right hand of God. [1 Corinthians 15:3-8 … 17-22… 51-58] … Wonder of Faith… of Love… of Hope!