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Christmas Night & Wonder

December 24, 2011

There has been so much to celebrate and sadden in the year that is almost over. But one of the most abiding images to me as a science enthusiast, is the Large Hadron Collider. The 16 1/2 mile long experiment into the very heart of existence.

I am a chemist rather than a physicist but I am still excited by what it might find and indeed by what it has already achieved. But at no point do I see this experiment, or science in general, as a challenge to my faith. Faith is about experiencing the whole of existence, and finding the spiritual reality that gives meaning to it all. Science is a tool for finding more about our world, more for me to wonder at through the eyes of faith. More for me to thank the Creator for!

And that brings me to that wonderful phrase from John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word”. I imagine the very start of creation; the big bang is starting and God is hovering over it all. I imagine an anxious parent at the birth of a new and extra ordinary child.

This Christmas I am in so much need of that wonder. My soul feels wary by all the woes of the world, wars, floods, famines and the crisis with the Euro. All of that and a frantic business at work; with no time to stop, think or really take in the life I’m travelling through.

I need to take the time to wonder more at the amazing science that can engineer machines smaller than a pin-head. The science that can make my winter warm and bright.

I need to take the time to sit with the family and stroke the cats. Christmas is a time for wonder. The wonder of a birth; a birth of a child, the birth of the universe, and the birth for hope for all of us fallible human beings.

I need to stop and enjoy a taste, to savour and wonder at the sensations in my mouth as I eat something nice. Not just refuel my body.

All of this wonder, if part of a life of faith, is worship.

Wonder at creation and the joys that it can bring, is a deep and profound worship of the Creator.

But it feels wrong. We often have the idea that worship should be formal and serious. Well being in God’s presence is a serious thing. But that doesn’t stop it being amazing too. Amazing and wonderful.

God is everywhere and not just in Church. There is no part of the Creation without Him. So when we study to learn more about the world, through art, or music or for me science, we explore something of the wonder of the creator.

I need to wonder more. I might even make it my New Years resolution. I’ll have to think about that next week. But I could do so much worse.

I need to wonder more; and I need to throw myself headlong into it. After all wonder, by its very nature, is not a half-hearted thing. I need to allow myself to let go completely, open my eyes and experience the wonder of the things around me. The wonder of a single breath. The wonder of touch and smell, taste and sight.

I need to let the passion back in to my love of life. The passion that leaks slowly out as we grow up and take on responsibilities.

This is what Christmas is about. It is what our Bible readings are saying. Yes, the Bible can so often speak words, breathless with wonder. I need to wonder, and maybe so do you.

Wonder about a God who is Creator but who got dirty in His own creation.

I say, that you and I need more wonder. To fill ourselves with the wonder of God, so that we can share that wonder with the world.

Wonder, so that the phrase, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” can be an expression of God living in us and sharing His love in the world, through us.

Wonder so that we can be strong; bringers of a bright hope to the lives of so many that feel shut out in the dark.

To paraphrase, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never overcome it.”

So, this Christmas night – wonder at it all. Fill your hearts with wonder, wonder to overflowing. And then shine out bright in the darkness, to the glory of God, and for the good of all.

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