“Never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder, and he gave it to me.” -Abraham Joshua Heschel
I tend to overthink most things. I like facts and data and stories--which, according to Brene Brown, are just "data with a pulse." When I have a question and someone can offer a rational, well-researched answer, it scratches me right where I itch.
I like facts and research so much that I recently finished preaching the longest, most research-intensive sermon series I have ever done. It was a series on the book of Revelation, and my hope was that people could find a grounded story of real people in real places in a book that is way too weird and confusing for most people. So I attempted to use historical research and archaeological discovery as a way to give people a new sense of comfort with such a strange book.
But this coming Sunday (October 2), I'm going to start a series that is very different, and it's something that challenges me as much as it may challenge anybody else. The series is called I Asked For Wonder, which is a phrase that was borrowed from Abraham Joshua Heschel (the quote at the top of this post).
So what is this sermon series going to be?
It will be an exploration of the things that we cannot explain or fully understand. This series will be an acknowledgment that, for all of the things that we can know and control, there are some things that are completely out of our grasp. The human intellect can only take us so far, and it is at that borderline between what we can know and what we could never know that we often encounter God.
It is at this place where our rational understanding begins to lose ground and all we have left is wonder.
It is wonder that makes us fully alive--that tunes us into the activity of the divine within the tangible world.
It is wonder that causes our eyes to go wide and remind us that we can still be amazed in this life and that God might still be able to surprise us in all kinds of unexpected ways.
So this series will be about the intangibles. It will be a sermon series about wonder.
Because sometimes we need answers and data and understanding because it helps us make sense of something that has troubled us for too long.
But sometimes we need to allow space for the unknown and the unknowable--we need to open ourselves up in ways that leave space for the divine surprises in this life.
In short, we are talking about wonder.