“Wow!” is a word or an exclamation that we say in response to wonder. We are “wowed” when we are astonished by something that is so awesomely mysterious or new to our experience. Surely the Advent and Christmas seasons are appropriate to talk about the “wow” factor.
In the opening chapter of Luke we read about the angel Gabriel coming to an unmarried teenaged girl named Mary. “The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son…He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High…he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.’” WOW! We might imagine Mary saying, “Me? Why me? How could this possibly be? Are you serious? Wow!” Who indeed, could imagine such a thing…
In the second chapter of Luke we learn about an angel who appeared to the shepherds to announce the great thing that has happened in Bethlehem: “Do not be afraid…I am bringing you good news of great joy…to you is born this day in the city of David a savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” An unlikely event for shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night wouldn’t you say? Wow… And some time later the three kings were guided by a star to find and worship this new born king. Wow again.
But even before the kings take center stage let’s go back to Jesus’ first week of life. It is the eighth day and he is to be circumcised. In Jerusalem at that time was a man named Simeon who had been visited by the Holy Spirit and assured that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s messiah. This day he was guided by the Spirit to go to the temple courts. And then (Luke 2) “When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God saying, ‘…now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation…’” Wow.
It may be that you’re thinking “wow” moments are moments of biblical proportion that no longer happen today. If so, I think you’re wrong. Consider this. Because of his notable public persona we heard a great deal about Steve Jobs when he died recently. You can read his sister’s eulogy on line via The New York Times on the Opinion Page, Oct. 30, 2011. According to her, Steve’s last words were these: “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”
I loved reading these words because I do believe that in dying we are swept up into something awesome, and mysterious, and new to our experience. While I am not a parent I believe that in birthing and in being a part of it, the same is true. In our coming and in our going, we are wowed by the God of creation, the God of love. And what then is our job? I think it is to be “wowed” by all the intervening moments between our coming and our going. May you know – and exclaim – WOW!