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Human beings love to be amazed and filled with wonder. That is why they travel the world over to see the 7 wonders of the world and the million and more lesser wonders of God and man. That is why the constant craving for special effects in spectacular movies that take us out of dullsville into a world of wonder.

The amazing is always popular. Back near the turn of the century, Hodji Ali made his fortune by being amazing. In full view of the audience he would swallow peach pits, pennies, rhinestone rings, watermelon seeds and a whole series of small objects. Then he would bring up specific items at the request of the audience. Like the great fish in the book of Jonah, he could vomit for a profit {prophet}.

That was merely a warm up. While his assistant set up a miniature castle, Ali drank a gallon of water and then a pint of kerosene. The drum would begin to roll and he would spit out the kerosene in a six foot arc across the stage, setting the castle on fire. Then with the flames shooting high into the air, he would spit up the water and extinguish the blaze. The people loved it, for it was amazing, and people love to be amazed.

That is what the Christmas season is all about. It is about being amazed. The whole world, in shopping centers, is changed to convey a sense of amazement. The lights and decorations and colors are all changed to convey a sense of wonder. We are expected to respond, how wonderful, how beautiful, how amazing it all is! The world and the church cooperate once a year in an all out effort to create an atmosphere of amazement.

It is very Biblical to do so, for that is the spirit that characterized the first Christmas. After the shepherds had gone through the wonder-filled experience of hearing the angels and seeing the Christ-child for themselves, they spread the word, and we read in verse 18, “And all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”

Amazement has three different levels very much like the three levels of heaven. There is the atmospheric heaven of the birds and the clouds. There is the astronomical heaven of sun, moon and stars. There is the angelic heaven of all the heavenly hosts and the Trinity.

Human amazement begins on the highest level as the shepherds are confronted by the wonder of the angels. But then the shepherds have to go back to tending their sheep, and day by day the wonder of it all would begin to fade. The challenge for them and for us is to keep the wonder alive and on the highest level. Let’s look at the three stages of amazement, for just being aware of them will help us.

THE RESPONSE OF AMAZEMENT.

This is the first and highest level where we are confronted by the mysterious and marvelous and feel a sense of awe. Georgia Adams conveys a common experience of amazement in her poem Evening Awe. I am filled with awesome wonder on moonlit, starlit nights; Speechlessly I stand engrossed in Such an array of sights.

Like a rich black velvet curtain The sky hangs silently-Studded with millions of diamonds Shining so brilliantly. Among the myriads of stars Flung into outer space, The dipper so majestically Appears to take its place.

Each whirling, twirling planet spins Within its orbit there; The silvery moon hangs deftly Suspended in mid-air! Ah yes, the spacious firmament In silent witness stands To prove God holds this universe Within His sovereign hands!

-Georgia B. Adams

We have all been amazed at some time by gazing up into the sky. The wise men were more amazed that usual when they saw the Star of Bethlehem. In that state of wonder they were willing to give up a good chunk of their life to follow that star to the Christ-child. When they arrived they no doubt had the emotions of those who sing, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene.”

We see an atmosphere of amazement everywhere in the New Testament when people confronted Jesus. When Mary and Joseph found Jesus as a young boy in the temple talking with the scholars, they were amazed. When Jesus began to teach, the people were amazed at His authority. When He began to cast our evil spirits, they were amazed at His power.

When He healed people, they were amazed and they praised God. When He stilled the storm His disciples were completely amazed. The point is, there was an atmosphere of amazement that surrounded Jesus and His ministry, and we read in Mark 9:15, “As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet Him.” The response of amazement was the normal response of men when they had an encounter with Christ.

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