Ezer Equipped | Recapturing Wonder
Welcome to the December 2021 Ezer Equipped.
Ten years ago, I went to the Grand Canyon for a backpacking trip with some family and friends. No picture or video could ever capture its beauty and magnitude. Standing at the edge of the rim and seeing it for the first time with my own two eyes was literally breathtaking. I had a similar experience when I visited the Roman Colosseum in Italy. Because our travel to the Colosseum was underground, I didn’t catch even the slightest glimpse of it while we were enroute. But as we ascended the stairs, the architectural masterpiece immediately confronted me and I stopped dead in my tracks. The ancient structure loomed large over me, assaulting all of my senses, and all I could do was stand there with eyes wide and mouth hanging open. I think I even audibly gasped. And yet what I was looking at was only a shadow of its former glory.
My experience with both the Grand Canyon and the Roman Colosseum is hard to put into words. The sheer magnitude of my surroundings was unfamiliar and unsettling in all the best ways. As I stood before these glorious sites, I was awakened to how small I am and reminded that my life is caught up in a much larger drama—one that has been playing out for millennia and will continue long after I am gone. Moments like this are good for the soul—evoking humility, reverence, wonder, and worship.
We don’t often experience moments like that in life—the ones that stop you dead in your tracks. The predictability of life has a lulling effect on us all, and it can take something truly extraordinary to rouse us from our slumber. Likewise, our familiarity with the Christmas story can have a deadening effect on our souls—making the uncommon common. And I fear we can move through the entire Christmas season without experiencing a single moment of wide-eyed wonder—when the story once again takes you by surprise and leaves you breathless.
For those who found themselves caught up in the drama of Christ’s birth, it was anything but common. As the story of his arrival unfolds, ordinary people living ordinary lives experience the extraordinary—a moment when heaven breaks in, pulls back the veil, and reveals the slightest glimpse of God’s glory, power, and active presence among mankind. And the experience leaves them awestruck with wonder, fear, amazement, and curiosity. While they had no idea how the story would unfold, we have the privilege of looking back and seeing all that God did through Christ—which should leave us no less awestruck than our predecessors.
While this story may be familiar, there is nothing common about it. God himself takes on flesh, in the form of a helpless babe, to be born of a virgin in order to subject himself to the world he created; experience temptation in every way we do yet without sinning; offer himself as a sacrificial payment for the sin of mankind; suffer and die at the hands of the creatures he created; rise from the dead after three days, thereby, conquering sin and death once and for all making it possible for anyone who believes to be forgiven of all sin, declared righteous, restored into perfect fellowship with God, adopted as sons and daughters, receive an eternal inheritance, be entrusted with the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts, and commissioned as God’s ambassadors to build his kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven until he returns to restore all things fully and finally. This is the all encompassing good news of Christ’s birth, and it is meant to lead us to respond in profound wonder, humility, worship, and obedience!
To recapture the wonder of Christ, we must make room to experience the story afresh—to allow our imaginations to be captured, our senses activated, our emotions stirred, and to remember that, in Christ, the uncommon came near and dwelt among us. Below we’ve created a resource for you to help you make room for wonder this season.
May you experience the true wonder of Christ this Christmas!
Women’s Discipleship Advisor
As you read and reflect on each of the passages below, take time to notice the circumstances each person is in, what happens, and how they respond. Do they respond with humility, reverence, wonder, worship, obedience, or some combination? Don’t rush through these passages. Take time to imagine yourself in each person’s shoes. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to capture your imagination, stir your affections, and recapture the wonder of heaven colliding with earth in the birth of Christ.
Luke 1:5–23 | Zechariah
The wonder of Christmas begins with a miracle birth, promised to an old, barren couple—a priest named Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. Gabriel, an angel of the Lord, promises they will give birth to a son—John the Baptist—who will pave the way for the coming Messiah.
While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him.
Luke 1:26–38 | Mary
Once again, the angel Gabriel appears to announce a miraculous birth—this time, to a virgin named Mary who will give birth to a son.
God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!
Luke 1:39–56 | Elizabeth, baby John, and Mary
The mere presence of the Lord, though in the form of a helpless unborn babe, evokes a response from both Elizabeth and baby.
At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:18–25 | Joseph
An unwed, pregnant fiance put Joseph in a precarious position as an honorable Jewish man. And that is where the angel of the Lord met him.
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.
Luke 2:8–20 | The Shepherds
The shepherds were minding their own business, tending to their flocks when a vast host of angels and heaven's armies appeared and the Lord’s glory surrounded them—announcing the birth of the long awaited Messiah.
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 2:25–40 | Simeon and Anna
Simeon, a priest, and Anna, an elderly, widowed prophetess, had both served at the temple for many years while eagerly waiting for the promised one who would rescue Israel.
She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
Matthew 2:1–12 | Wise Men
When hearing of the birth of the newborn king of the Jews, the wise men set out on a journey to find him and worship him.
When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.
Behold The Lamb of God | Album by Andrew Peterson
Sometimes we need to hear the same truth told in an unfamiliar way in order to recapture a sense of wonder and worship. Behold the Lamb of God is the Old Testament, culminating in Christ’s birth, set to song. Each song recounts a significant moment in Israel’s history—the first Passover after Israel’s rescue from slavery in Egypt; their years of spiritual wandering, rejecting God as their king, and demanding a human king instead; the prophets who spoke of a greater, suffering servant king who was to come; and the four hundred years of silence, when Yahweh seemed to have finally abandoned his people. After joining Israel’s journey through the Old Testament, it is hard not to have a moment of profound wonder, joy, and worship when Christ’s birth is finally proclaimed.
- Can you think of a jaw-dropping moment when you were awestruck and filled with wonder? You didn’t make yourself respond that way; it just happened. It was a natural, instinctive response to what was in front of you. What did you feel? What response did it stir in you? In what ways did that moment point you to God?
- In the Scripture passages above, God shows up in ordinary moments, with ordinary people. Outside of the jaw-dropping moments, have there been some ordinary moments that have filled you with wonder?
- When God catches us off guard, we don’t always respond with wonder. Sometimes the disruption is unsettling and we respond with fear or are overwhelmed. When God makes himself known to us—whether it's through unexpected circumstances, a meaningful conversation, or a beautiful sunset—it stirs some kind of response in us. As you think about these categories consider these questions:
- Fear: Do I view him rightly, with holy fear, reverence? Or is my view of God too superficial and casual to have any kind of reverence for him?
- Wonder: Am I amazed and curious about who he is and all he has done? Do I look for and am I surprised by the way he displays his power and glory? Or am I too busy to notice?
- Rejoicing: Do I feel joyful about his work and his favor toward me? Do I appreciate the way he has intervened on my behalf and demonstrated grace toward me? Or do I tend to treat his grace, mercy, and active presence as a commodity and take it for granted?
- Humility: Do I recognize that God is the Creator and I am his creature and that I am not the center of this story? Or do I place expectations on God to meet me on my own terms?
- Move: How do I respond? Are my actions marked by worship, obedience, and following him? Or do I respond with disbelief, indifference, or apathy? In what ways am I motivated to act based on what I have seen and heard?
In this section, we have included some ideas to help you engage this Christmas season with a little bit of wonder and curiosity.
- Record and Request Wonder
We live in the mysterious tension of something called the now and the not yet. There is much brokenness and suffering in our world and many need hope and healing. In fact, all of creation groans as it awaits freedom from death and decay (Romans 8:18–30). But the wonder of Christ has pierced the darkness and he is restoring all things to himself. This means there are ways in which we are able to see moments of redemption and restoration now! So this month, we want to embrace the both/and of the gospel, and have created an Advent Calendar to help you!
For each day of December (except Saturday), we are asking you to pray for those experiencing the not yet—a person who is hurting, a system that is broken, or a person who is on the front lines caring for those in need. Pray for the wonder of God’s work through Christ to strengthen and encourage them in the midst of their suffering. Each category is represented by a specific icon.
A broken heart icon represents a person who is suffering in a specific area. On these days, consider who you know that is carrying that burden. Spend time praying for them and consider reaching out to encourage them and let them know they are not alone. If you don’t know anyone struggling in that area, pray generally for all those who are.
An icon of a broken world represents systems that are broken and need a solution. There may be little we can do to fix these systems, but we can pray for those who work within them. Pray for wise leaders, for additional funding, for justice, for more workers, and even for discernment about what role God may want you to play in being a small part of the solution.
A first aid icon represents the servant leaders who are on the front lines, caring for those who are being profoundly impacted by the brokenness of this world. This would include our first responders, those in the medical profession, teachers, counselors, pastors, DSS workers, and parents of foster or adopted children, or children with special needs. On these days consider people you know who are carrying that specific weight. How can you pray for them? What could you do to encourage and thank them for the work they do?
Throughout the week, we also want you to be alert to how God is already moving and acting in the world and in your own life. On Saturdays, we want you to record a moment of wonder you’ve experienced—whether an act of redemption and restoration in your or someone else’s life or some way he revealed his glory, majesty, and power to you through his creation.
Print this calendar and put it somewhere it will remind you how to focus your prayers for that day and to look for those moments of wonder!
- Reflect on Wonder
The gospels record the life of Jesus from beginning to end. Each author has a different purpose, which informs his way of telling this story. The two gospels that tell the account of Christ’s birth are Matthew and Luke. Pick one of these and read or listen to it this month in preparation for Christmas. Sometimes we miss the awe and wonder in the Christmas narrative because we are not looking at it through the arc of redemptive history and what is yet to come.
- Recapture Wonder
It is easy for the busyness and distractions of the holiday season to dull or even mute our response to the true meaning of Christmas. In some ways, we have become so desensitized that in an effort to feel something we may be tempted to prioritize sentimentality over substance. It may take some effort to simplify our celebrations in order to create room for wonder.
There is a disruptive nature to wonder—it interrupts you and makes you recognize the power, glory, and magnitude of God. It reminds you of beauty, truth, and goodness. It unsettles you— reminding you that you are not the center of the universe.
Implement one or two things you can do this month to help you feel small and remind you of the power, glory, and goodness of God in this season and always. Get creative. Here are a few ideas to help you begin thinking:
- Go for a hike in the mountains
- Drive up to Pretty Place to watch a sunrise or sunset
- Go visit a newborn or infant
- Spend time with a new believer or a friend who is experiencing lifechange
- Go somewhere you can stare at the night sky without light pollution
For Further Study
Behold The Lamb of God Advent Devotional, Book by Russ Ramsey
Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional, Book by Paul David Tripp
Shadow and Light: A Journey Into Advent, Book by Tsh Oxenreider
Hidden Christmas: The Surprise Truth Behind the Birth of Christ, Book by Tim Keller