The seasons of Advent and Christmas are laced with wonder. Advent brings us the sweet anticipation of God’s fulfillment of our deepest longings. Christmas sparkles with the wonder of God’s love in the simplicity and majesty of the infant Jesus lying in a manger.
One of the great gifts of these seasons is the permission we give ourselves to set aside striving for answers to the divine mystery that produces such wonder. For a brief time we tend to suspend our need to compress the wonder of God’s love into the limitations of our intellect.
Of course, there are deeply satisfying intellectual explanations which might resonate with our experience and deepen our understanding. As people of faith, we are always seeking fresh language to convey the wonder of God’s love, because that love is always fresh and new, as fresh as a newborn babe. Then again, there are occasions when the Church’s teaching might not be satisfying. At such times it is helpful to remember that God’s loves transcends our understanding. Our questions and doubts can be means of deepening our faith, rather than reasons to abandon it. It is always appropriate to return to the spirit of Advent and Christmas, and simply enjoy the wonder of it all.
For the wonder of Advent and Christmas is God’s year-round gift. In a very real way, God’s faithfulness originates for Christians in Bethlehem. We then respond with wonder to the mystery of God’s faithfulness in the mangers of our own lives. Because of God’s grace, we receive in advance of our understanding or accomplishments—and even in advance of our own birth—the meaning of our lives. For the faith we proclaim always precedes our understanding and is filled with wonder and delight.