Web Only: Christmas Sermon “Wonder in Christ”

December 12, 2019

Cathrine Wheeler grew up in Idaho and migrated to Seattle where she lives with her husband, son and Black Lab. She works as a physician and serves as Relief Society President. Her favorite things include making Aebleskivers for Christmas brunch, skiing in the trees, and collecting chocolate cake recipes.

We live in a cynical time. Society laughs at those who appear naive. We are too busy and too distracted to notice details around us. News travels quickly. There is a bottomless depth of information available at our fingertips, and we can get many questions answered from across the room simply by calling out to Siri or Alexa. People regularly communicate in all-capital letters and use way too many exclamation points, so it’s hard to know when someone is actually feeling surprised or excited. 

When was the last time that you were caught off guard by a happy surprise? When was the last time you paused because you were overcome with a sense of awe? When did you last feel a sense of wonder? 

I love Seattle. I feel that we are really lucky to be in such a beautiful city, and I often find myself stumbling into beautiful moments that fill me with a sense of awe. For example, nothing compares to running across the Montlake Bridge on a foggy mornings as the sunrise reflects across the water. On a grey cloudy day, a few rays of sun can streak below the clouds and light up a tree from behind so it glows— it can be almost mythical. Whenever I hear an eagle chatter, I stop to see if I can watch him circle. I find watching spiders almost as fascinating as watching eagles and osprey. And a few months ago on a clear night in Wyoming, our whole family looked up and saw a sky full of stars, and we were all filled with a sense of wonder. 

The wisemen were filled with wonder when they saw the new star. The shepherds were shocked when the angels popped up and started singing. Mary no doubt felt something profound when she held the Savior in her arms. She pondered these feelings in her heart when it was probably impossible to put them into words. The Nephites were also probably left speechless when the miracle of the light of the Savior’s birth saved their lives the night before they were to be put to death. 

Can you think of a time that you were left speechless by a realization of the depth and power of the Savior’s love? Can you recall a time that you were so humbled by his mercy that you felt your life shift? 

Bishop Gérald Caussé said: 

To marvel at the wonders of the gospel is a sign of faith. It is to recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives and in everything around us. Our amazement also produces spiritual strength. It gives us the energy to remain anchored in our faith and to engage ourselves in the work of salvation. 

(General Conference April 2015, “Is It Still Wonderful to You?”) 

The Savior lived. His life was amazing. He did amazing things for people while he lived— he taught them, he challenged their misconceptions, he healed them, he comforted them. He loved them. He always loved them. 

The Savior died. But that’s not all he did. Read Alma chapter 7. It is unfathomable to me that the Savior knows the depths of my shame, sorrow and suffering. He knows the depths of your shame, sorrow and suffering too. He gathered these all at Gethsemane, he took them to the cross and he carried them to the grave. He did that so that each one of us, in any situation, can lift our eyes to Him with hope. Hope is an amazing gift. 

It is profound that the Savior could reunite his dead body and his spirit. It is astounding that he will reunite every single one of our bodies and spirits. We should never cease to be surprised that he loves us as we are, but at the same time he sees what we can be— and leads us there (if we follow). He offers us covenants to unite ourselves with him. The concept that we can repent, grow and evolve to be like Him is beautiful. He can speak personal guidance directly to our minds through the Holy Ghost. Wow! It is a grace that he sends people to love us. It is a miracle that he trusts us to love others in his name. May we always be struck with a deep sense of reverence whenever we feel his peace. I pray that we feel it often. 

Go back and read the words to the Sacrament Hymn, and let them sink in: I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me… Oh, it is wonderful that he would care for me. 

We can become so steeped in the stories and words of the Savior, that his birth, his life and his Atonement can almost seem routine. I hope instead that we can nurture a perpetual sense of wonder that keeps us from taking him for granted. Let’s ask the Holy Ghost to help us do this. 

I hope that we can always be awestruck when we catch a glimpse of his miracles and mercy in our lives. May we always be touched when we feel his love. May our gift to the Savior be that we not only remember Him, but that we consider Him with a deep sense of awe, wonder and gratitude. 

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 

I share my testimony that Jesus is all of these things. 

He is my personal Savior.He is your personal Savior. He is love. He is hope. He is amazing. 

I leave this with you, in his name. Amen. 

 

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