“What will this child turn out to be?” – Luke 1:66 (NLT)
It would be an odd person who, looking upon the face of a newborn baby, did not experience wonder. Wonder at brand new life. Wonder at the ever-changing expressions on that tiny face. Gazing on a newborn’s face is akin, I’ve thought, to watching the shifting sky and clouds above. And wonder at what this child shall become.
The particular baby of Luke’s story is John, who will be John the Baptist, herald of Jesus. John’s birth is attended by an extra dollop of wonder. His until-now childless parents are old when he is conceived. His father, Zechariah, had been struck instantly speechless for doubting the angel Gabriel’s promise of a child. Zechariah finds his tongue when he confirms Elizabeth’s unconventional choice of a name: John. “But no one in your family has that name!” the kinfolks protest. “His name is John,” underlines Zechariah.
A child born to the wrong people. Speech, suddenly gone, just as suddenly returns. An unprecedented name. Something strange, something wondrous, is afoot.
Wonder abounds. Which is a good thing, a very good thing. St. Gregory of Nyssa once commented, “Concepts create idols; only wonder comprehends anything. People kill one another over idols. Wonder makes us fall to our knees.”
Take a break today – maybe for the entire Advent season – from concepts and lists, from judgments and bickering. Only wonder. Fall to your knees at the wonder of it all. And while you are there, praise God for babies, for speech and silence, for your own wondrous life, and for the baby God who will soon come to share our life and set us free from sin’s power, even Jesus.
For this special season of wonder that is Advent, I praise and thank you, O Lord. Let the healing magic of wonder rest upon me this day.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book, Useful Wisdom: Letter to Young (and Not So Young) Ministers will be published early next year by Wipf and Stock. You can read and sign up for his blog at www.anthonybrobinson.com.