MILLEDGEVILLE — You may hear the words, “Christmas is a season of great mystery,” but you may not completely understand what that means. The word “mystery” is the problem, mostly because we are not sure what to do with mystery.
If we like mystery novels, we want to find out toward the end who did the terrible crime. A good author will be able to keep us in suspense until the very end, and we will be surprised to find out who the villain is, but we know that we will learn who it is.
Diseases like polio and smallpox used to be mysteries, but we learned what caused them and how to treat them, and now they are all but eradicated from our lives. There is no mystery there.
Mystery is all around us even though we might not know it. Some things can be simply explained, but that still does not take the mystery away. Linda and I stood on a pier at St. Simons recently and watched the sun go down. We stood in awe as we watched the sky light up with amazing color, and as we stood looking at it, we did not speak. We were caught up in the mystery of that moment.
Any scientist could have explained about the refraction of light in the water vapor in the sky as that caused the brilliant colors, but that would not have taken away the mystery.
We have stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon and looked across that vast hole in the earth. What we were seeing was unspeakable beauty, and we, along with others, were silent before the great mystery before us.
Again, the Grand Canyon can be explained by the power of erosion on the particular rock that is there, but the explanation still cannot take away the mystery of that amazing place.
It is unfortunate that we try our best to solve mysteries, or even worse, that we do not allow ourselves to experience the mystery that is right in front of our eyes. We are a people who like explanations, who like things laid out for us in logical terms.
But there are life experiences that cannot be explained; they are best marveled at. At the birth of both my daughters I experienced profound mystery. Of course the births could be explained from conception to delivery, but one cannot explain what it is to hold a newborn child and not be able to speak. That is mystery.
I have been privileged many times to stand beside a groom who watches his bride come down an aisle, and he can only stand in awe of her beauty; the moment is so profound there are no words, only awe.
I have also stood with families at the bedside of a loved one who finally breathed their last breath, and they entered into glory. No one could speak; we could only look with both heartbreak and relief that suffering was ended and new life had begun. It was a moment of profound mystery.
I have stood in the little cave where Jesus was born, and while the guide explained where the manger stood and where Mary and Joseph likely were, none of us could speak. There was a far greater mystery going on than could be explained. God had come among us to share our life, committed to be among us and reveal God’s nature. Finally this little child would go to a cross for our salvation.
Matthew tells us of the wise men who came to see the baby, but there are no recorded words from these wise men. We can only imagine them standing speechless before the Savior of the world. Luke tells us of the shepherds who came to see the baby, but there are no recorded songs or words from them, either, only worshipful awe. Surely none of them at the time understood what was to happen with this child, but they simply stood in awe of the moment.
Somewhere in the busy-ness of this season, I hope you will find some time to stand in awe of what happened at Christmas. God has come among us in the flesh, and we have seen his glory. That is amazing, and we simply need to stand shut-mouthed for a moment to remember that it was all done for you and me.
Dr. Jay Hodges can be reached at Jayhodges610@yahoo.com.