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					Checking It Twice: Wonder
Reconnect – Christmas Eve 2010

 Checking It Twice

 re:   connect             Christmas Eve 2010
    Barrhaven Community Church

Text: Luke 2:1-20, Matthew 21:12-16, Psalm 40:5, 65:8
Key Thought: Experience the true wonder of Christmas – let Jesus into your world.

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has
told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told
everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these
things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was
just as the angel had told them. (Luke 2, NLT)

Pre-Intro: Hallelujah in the Mall (video)
Intro: The most wonderful time of the year
            Well, congratulations everyone, because you made it to Christmas Eve
            Don’t worry, there still might be time to get some last minute gifts – I recommend Shoppers Drug Mart
             or even Esso for gift cards – Mac’s Milk is also another good option
            And don’t forget, the Boxing Day sales at Future Shop and Best Buy start tonight at 8pm – and no,
             you’re not allowed to leave early
            But let’s put all of that aside and just bask in the moment – everyone take a deep breath – aaah!
            There’s something magical about Christmas Eve, isn’t there?
            We remember as kids, trying to get to sleep – or NOT, to try to get a glimpse of the fat man in the suit
             – with visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads
            And then that first moment, like in the Target commercial we played earlier – the wonder and
             amazement of coming down the stairs, or around the corner, and seeing the Christmas tree, stuffed
             with presents
            We look for wonder at Christmas still, don’t we? I know I do... whether it’s watching the way that
             people interact with each other in long lines, or hold the door for each other just a little longer, or the
             lights on houses through a light snowfall, or the first time a Christmas tree is lit – there is definitely
             wonder to be found at this time of year – the MOST “wonderful time of the year”

   Ill.: our kids at Carlingwood at night – in awe of the displays, marvelling at the lights, the magic and
   spectacle of it

      We experience so much wonder as kids – at least, that’s the plan – and then we seem to spend the rest
       of our lives trying to recreate it for others, and remembering how good it was, to bring that same sense
       to our kids and loved ones
      That’s why I played the video that we just saw, of the flash mob in the food court of the mall in
      Because it’s something completely different – but then the people there who AREN’T “in on it” are
       drawn into the wonder of it – they are recording it, they are marvelling at it, they are trying to make
       sure that their children have some idea of how special it is - some of them even start singing
      And by the time it’s done, they have experienced wonder – as fleeting as it might be

Wonder, part I:
      Wonder – that’s actually quite a word
      One sense of the word wonder is like I’ve used it already tonight – the idea of being amazed by
       something, that feeling of awe and surprise, the marvelling that happens when there’s something
       really, really good happening all of a sudden, that we don’t completely understand
      There was wonder in abundance that very first Christmas Eve, when Jesus was born
      The wonder that Mary and Joseph must have felt, as this miraculous baby was born, when they had a
       chance to sit back and look at Him, sent from God

      The wonder the shepherds felt, when the angels appeared among them and directed them to go to a
       stable of all places
      The wonder that Mary and Joseph would have felt again, as a scruffy band of shepherds showed up at
       the stable door, asking if there was a baby sent from God here
      You and I have felt that kind of wonder before at other times, not just at Christmas:
            o the wonder you felt at the birth of a child, staring at their little features and fingers and toes
            o the wonder you felt when you saw your partner for the first time on your wedding day
            o the wonder you felt when you got behind the wheel of a car for the very first time
            o the wonder you felt when your friends threw you a surprise birthday party
            o the wonder you felt when you got a phone call on that job you really wanted but figured that
                you didn’t really have a shot at
            o the wonder you felt at your first day of school – whether it was high school, or university – that
                life was definitely going to be different now
       It’s the thought that, “this is something really big, here – something that may or may never happen
       again, but this is definitely something BIG” – the “too good to be true” feeling, and we are amazed, and
       we don’t completely understand what’s going on, but we are enthralled and filled with joy

Wonder, pt. II:
      But then there’s that word wonder again, because there’s more to it
      There’s also the idea of wondering about something – curiousity, and more often, doubt – we wonder
       if something is true or not, we wonder about things, we’re sceptical, we look for the catch – the
       moment fades, and we wonder if it really WAS “too good to be true” after all
      That kind of wonder abounds at this time of year, too
      In the face of a season of belief, we think about belief – what we believe to be true, what we don’t
       believe to be true
      Those people who have struggled with the idea of faith – maybe they had felt it at one point in time,
       but it feel away from them, or they walked away, for whatever reason – or maybe their doubts were
       always greater than what they considered their ability to believe, as a result of family, or tragedy
      It can be a time of year for cynicism – all of the different messages we hear this time of year, the
       consumerism of Christmas
      We’ve talked about them, in our series since the end of November – messages like “You Deserve It” –
       that no-one else will care about you enough to get you what you really need or want, so you better do
       it for yourself”
      And messages like “The Challenge of Christmas” – an opportunity to “do Christmas” smarter, or slicker,
       or more lavishly and extravagantly than those others around you, in the hopes that you will be able to
       control what others think of you and the experiences that those around you have and remember
      We also talked about “The Stress of Christmas” – that the holiday provides just another time in our
       already busy lives to obsess and worry about our own shortcomings, and our bank balances, and our
       fistful of credit cards, and that when we give ourselves over to those pressures, that we’re only truly
       happy when Christmas goes back in the box for next year

      And then there was this past Sunday, when Kimberley did such a great job looking at “Home for the
       Holidays” – and how sometimes you can’t go home again – or you might not even want to – because
       sometimes, the memories that come with Christmas seem like they’re too much to bear
      The spectacle that is a postmodern Christmas is indeed a time for wondering – wondering if this has
       taken on a life of its own, like Frankenstein’s monster, coming out of the best intentions but turning
       into something that is ultimately grotesque
      And then we think that perhaps we’ve gotten too “grown up” for Christmas anymore
      There was plenty of wonder-doubt that first Christmas, too
      The Bible talks about how the shepherds went out from the stable and told anyone who would listen
       to them about all of the marvels they had seen and heard and experienced
      It says that the people that heard the stories were “astonished” – some in a good way, and no doubt,
       many in the “wow – they’ve been out in the cold with the sheep WAY too long” sense too

Wonder, pt. III:
      The Bible uses the word “wonder” a lot – in the sense of something that God does, miracles that are
       designed to get our attention and draw it back to God – things that are beyond our understanding, but
       that fill us with wonder and joy – and sometimes doubt, too
      When God reaches into our world, whether we realize the source of it or not, we experience this kind
       of wonder – because God created us this way, to experience this feeling as an echo of a world greater
       than our own
      What provokes wonder is the holiness of God – which is a word that doesn’t get used a lot – but
       describes how God is so different than anything else – so much better, so much greater, so much more
       pure and true and good
      And because we as humans are spiritual beings, made that way by God, when we are exposed to His
       holiness – His world – His ways – we wonder at it – whether it’s joy, or amazement, or even doubt
      But being human, we tend to lose our way – and we get cluttered, and stressed, and busy, and set in
       our ways, and short-sighted, and afflicted by tunnel vision – and wonder comes into our lives less and

Wonder – where is it?
      So here’s my question – where is your wonder? When was the last time you “wondered”? Wondered
       if there was more to this life than our normal everyday existence?
      Jesus grew up, but he carried that sense of wonder with Him, because his life was centered in God
      He welcomed the reach of God into His world, and made room for Him to be continually there – and
       that made an impact on everyone around him
      Listen to one episode of his life:

Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He
knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “The
Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of

The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. The leading priests and the
teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting,
“Praise God for the Son of David.”

But the leaders were indignant. They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,”
Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to
give you praise.’” Matthew 21:12-16, NLT

      The children could see what was happening, even if they didn’t understand it – and they felt the sense
       of wonder
      But the religious people – the good people, the ones trying their best to live good lives and be good
       people – they couldn’t see it, because there was no room for wonder in their lives
      Politics, money, religion, reputation – all of it got in the way of their wonder, and even when God
       Himself was trying to reach into their world, they refused to accept Him
      We grow up, and we leave “childish ways” behind us – and sometimes we leave behind the wonder too
      And we miss God at work in our world, trying to reach into our world, even when we are surrounded

Key Thought:
Experience the true wonder of Christmas – let Jesus into your world.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.

Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.              Psalm 40:5, 65:8, NLT

                        Take It Home:
    Experience the true wonder of Christmas –
                     let Jesus into your world.
         The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
              where morning dawns, where evening fades,
                                   you call forth songs of joy.

       Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done,
                             the things you planned for us.
                              None can compare with you;
                    were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
                      they would be too many to declare.
                                           Psalm 40:5, 65:8, NLT

Conclusion: What’s getting in the way of your wonder?
       What’s getting in the way of your wonder?
       Today’s editorial in the National Post said this:

“The Christian understanding is that there is another history; a sometimes-hidden history that
reveals the true story of the world, told in its proper depth. It unfolds in the Sinai desert, in a
stable in Bethlehem, on a cross in Jerusalem, in the work of martyrs and saints in places far
away from the chancelleries and parliaments. This hidden story of God’s love breaks into
history even as a flickering flame banishes the darkness... And in those countries built on the
Christian tradition but which have since cast it aside, the Christmas question retains its force:
What difference does this baby born in Bethlehem make? is the story of this world only the
one told in newspapers and history books? Or is there another realm, another source of good
news, another history, which tells the truth about this world and our place in it? We know the
darkness. Is it true that there is still a light?” (National Post Editorial, December 24, 2010, A12)

       Will you let God reach into your world? And will you receive Him, even tonight, and let Him change
        your life?
       It’s not just for kids, or religious people, or people who grew up in church, or “churchy people” – it’s for
        anyone and everyone who has become convinced that there is more to this life than what can be seen
        and touched, that there must be more than just 75 or 80 years of struggle, that there must be
        perfection behind all of our imperfections, and that somewhere, somehow, God is good and great and
        pure and true enough to more than satisfy all of our expectations

Response: Silent Night (band)


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