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A Letter from the General Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery

Holy Longing, Part IV: Holy Wonder
December 21, 2017

The capacity to wonder is natural to children. Everything is fascinating to all five senses. When Jesus says that we must become like children to receive the kingdom, surely one of the key aspects of this is the joy of sheer wonder.

Christmas invites us to wonder, to become as children for whom the world has not been jaded by cynicism, self-sufficiency, rejection of those different from us, and world-weariness. Our capacity for wonder depends on our readiness to risk trading adult cynicism for child-like trust; adult self-sufficiency for child-like dependence; adult rejection of others different from us for child-like unconditional acceptance of everyone; adult world-weariness for child-like irrepressibility.

Consider the wonder of those who populate the Christmas story. Angels exult. Shepherds marvel. Magi lavish. Mary nurses. Joseph guards. Simeon blesses. Anna praises. It’s all laced with wonder.

Behold the child in the manger, and wonder! Here lies the one God is sending to make right all that has gone wrong in the world. So fragile, so vulnerable, so needy. God’s strength made perfect in weakness. Lord of all things, dependent for everything.

Behold the mother, and wonder! Barely more than a child herself, yet the archetype of motherhood in her willingness to lay aside all that she is for the sake of another. Like her son, despised and rejected because of her vocation, humiliated and scorned in unwed pregnancy.

The holy family, far from the support systems at home, is sheltered by angels and shepherds, succored by strangers from the east. Having found refuge in Bethlehem, they will soon be refugees in Egypt.

“Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) Here she becomes the prototype of holy wonder by doing two things: treasuring and pondering.

What do I treasure? What do I ponder? What do I find truly wonder-full?

Christmas beckons me to the greatest wonder of all: God loves the world, just as it is. More than I can possibly comprehend. And that includes me! (John 3:16)

What wondrous love is this! O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

In Christmas wonder,



The Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge, General Minister

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