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Christmas Advent 4: Preparing to Wonder

Christmas Advent Day 4: Preparing to Wonder                                     

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” …[Herod] inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” …And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. (Matthew 2:1-2, 4-6, 9-11, ESV)

“Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary, and, gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.”

-Phillip Brooks

When we picture the days and hours leading up to the birth of Jesus, we often think of the words to the song O Little Town of Bethlehem. We see a town quietly sleeping, completely unaware that the Savior of the world will be born any second. Maybe even in the days leading up to this, we see the streets busy with families coming in for the census. Not everyone was entirely clueless about the birth of the King. In fact, wise men from far away countries were at that very time discussing the scrolls and trying to plot out where they would find this prophesied “King of Israel.” 

I like to picture the wise men as old men decked out in extravagant robes, feverishly poring over the words of Scripture. In their quest for knowledge, they came across a portion of text from the prophet Micah (chapter 5) and wondered about this ruler. I wonder what sort of theories they cooked up and discussed with one another. While we may never know, it is fun to think about how they anxiously awaited His arrival. They traveled to an unfamiliar land and began their search. All the Scriptures had pointed them here and they were eager to know whether it was really true. Along the journey they probably discussed what He would be like and how they thought He would be found.

I’m not sure any of them guessed that He would live in a humble home with a young mom and a carpenter father. In fact, I know they didn’t, because the first place they went looking for this King was, well, the palace. How amazed they must have been when they realized the true King was not there at all. Then, following a star, they found this young babe, who could have even been a toddler by that point, and gazed in wonder at Him. 

I like to think that we, as believers, are a lot like the wise men. We are waiting anxiously for the coming of our Lord the second time. We wonder together what it will be like to be with Him. We speculate on how we’ll look and, of course, what we’ll be eating. Maybe you even joke about what kind of job you’ll have. We wonder how it will be that first time we see Him face to face. How will we act? I don’t know, but I do know that one day I will be with Him forever, and that is enough to fill me with joy.

As we inch closer and closer to Christmas Day, let us all pause in wonder at the coming Savior. Wonder at His goodness and mercy. Wonder at His love and kindness. Wonder about the coming Kingdom and let it bring you hope for the future.

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