A blog by Rev. Dr. James C. Howell,
senior pastor of Myers Park United Methodist Church
in Charlotte, North Carolina
Thursday, December 20, 2012
What does Jesus want for Christmas? #11 Curiosity
Children, as Christmas approaches, harbor an insatiable curiosity. Who’s coming, and when? What’s in the big box under the tree? A child will pick it up, examine it, shake it, plead for hints, and ask leading questions hoping somebody who knows will slip up and reveal what’s inside.
What does Jesus want for Christmas? An inquiring, questioning mind. Some buffoon from decades back pulled one over on us when it was decreed that Christians aren’t supposed to question anything. God loves questions; God even loves doubt, for doubt – if pursued energetically – will take us to a deeper truth. Every scientific advance began when somebody dared to question settled truth.
“Jesus is the answer” – sort of. Jesus also, as it turns out, is the question, his life a riddle, his teaching a gate swung open onto a maze we may explore for a lifetime and beyond.
Consider all the questions in the Bible’s Christmas stories. Mary shudders as she asks the angel, “How can this be?” The magi ask, “Where is the king of the Jews?” In our carols, the angels ask “Shepherds, why this jubilee?” To the tune, Greensleeves, we ask “What child is this? Why lies he in such mean estate?” And In the Bleak Midwinter asks, “What can I give him, poor as I am?”
In the New Year, we will begin a new series called Praxis: exploring lots of questions about what we believe and why, why it matters, how this Christian stuff came to be, who cares – the eternal questions that have given life and hope to inquiring minds and souls that refused to settle for pat answers, oversimplified conventional wisdom.
What does Jesus want for Christmas? Curiosity, the yearning to know more, to ask and keep asking, to knock and refuse to stop knocking, to listen, to wonder.
I’m pastor of Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC, and I also teach preaching and ministry at Duke Divinity School as an adjunct. I write regular inspirational/ educational pieces you’ll find here, reviews of books pertinent to faith today and ministry, and I love to be part of conversations about life with God and in the world among Christians and clergy.