“I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
why Jesus, our Savior, was born for to die,
for poor, orn’ry people like you and like I
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.”
I seem to go back to that familiar carol every Christmas. Maybe it’s because wonder is a Christmas word. Wonder is a reaction to something beyond what we expect, beyond our experience, so big it leaves us lost for words. And so we wonder.
The gospel story from St. Luke says that: the
‘In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.” Caesar Augustus, the ruler of the world orders a census.. “Quirinius was governor of Syria.” Quirinius , Caesar’s enforcer for Palestine, orders his jurisdiction to be counted. The big people have spoken.
But the big people, the important people don’t impress Luke. Rather, his eyes are drawn to a couple in the crowd being enrolled, from a little town in Galilee called Nazareth– Joseph and his betrothed wife Mary, who was with child. On their way to Bethlehem.
“While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”o
Luke gospel goes on to tell about this child born in Bethlehem. He grows up in Nazareth,and begins to preach and work marvels in Galilee, and draws followers and goes up to Jerusalem where he’s arrested, sentenced to death, crucified, then raised from the dead. Luke goes on further to describe the followers of Jesus who take his message to the ends of the earth, until finally his message comes down us today.
The word “wonder” describes the way to look on this story, because wonder seems to be a cautious word, it’s cautious before something great and unknown. Wonder is a word that questions. Why would God come among us like this? So small and powerless and helpless? Why not come in a more powerful way and make the world a new paradise. In the Advent season, prophets like Isaiah promised the nations would beat their swords into plowshares and the spears into pruning hooks: no one will train for war again. Yet, we seem to be building bigger armies and bigger weapons of mass destruction. The Messiah will make the deserts flower and the created world a feast. Yet, now our creation’s not flowering; it’s endangered; life itself threatened.
All peoples will come to God, the prophets say. Yet, so many turn away from him instead.
I wonder, as I wander out under the sky, why Jesus our Savior was born for to die, for poor, ornery people like you and like I…
God is with us. Immanuel. God reveals himself as God wills, not as we will or think it should be done. Faith doesn’t give us all the answers, but it gives us enough answers to trust in God who is with us. God with us, a humble God, born of Mary, born in a stable. God who lives among us, who knows our hopes and sorrows, who died on a Cross and rose again, and promises a new creation and that we will rise again.
We believe in God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.