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Surprised by the Gift

A few weeks ago my church started a series called, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Together we looked at the way each Gospel tells the story of Jesus. I’m always looking for striking things when I read and study God’s Word, so what stood out as I read through each account was the surprise the characters experienced.

  • Joseph finds out Mary is pregnant and starts to think about his options until the angel sets things straight.
  • King Herod is disturbed at the news from the magi.
  • John the Baptist, who prepares the way for Jesus, surprises everyone with his message.
  • Zechariah is startled and gripped with fear as the angel of the Lord appears.
  • Mary was troubled at the news from the angel Gabriel.
  • The shepherds were terrified as the glory of the Lord shone bright.

At every turn, nearly every person who encounters the unfolding of God’s redemptive story is simply overwhelmed with surprise and wonder.

I had the privilege of witnessing similar surprise this week as our family read one of our favorite books, The Big God Story, to our kids. Sitting on the floor was the young girl who has been living with us for the past few months. As I read, she asked, “How does this work? God started everything and then he sent Jesus. But Jesus is God. Wait. How did he do that?”

Surprise.

As I continued reading, my 3 year old son Zion stopped me on the page describing Christ on the cross. “Dad, WAIT. Jesus died? Why did He do that?” As I answered, his response was simply wide-eyed wonder.

Surprise.

I hate admitting this, but after decades of knowing Jesus, years and years of going to church and hearing the story, and many Christmases spent serving in the church – my eyes are unwont to wonder. The story is no longer surprising, because I know what happens.

I have a feeling this could be you too. I talked to one of our CPC speakers this week and she is overseeing 37 Christmas Eve services this week. Thirty. Seven. And in your church as a result of your hard work this week, many will hear the story, but sometimes the repetition leads us to the make the Gospel and the Christ-child just another character in a long list of characters we look forward to seeing at Christmas alongside Buddy the Elf, the Grinch, Rudolph, Frosty, or Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye.

My prayer is that in the moments of ministry you find time to read the opening chapters of the Gospels and you are filled with holy wonder, that the Holy Spirit awakens your heart to see the story anew, and you will worship Christ the Lord afresh.

Merry Christmas kidmin friends.

From all of us here at INCM

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