Nov. 30, 2017

Dear Hyde Park Family,

“Wonder takes our breath away, and makes room for new breath. That’s why they call it breathtaking.”
– Anne Lamott

One of the more provocatively titled books on faith and spirituality over the past several years is Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers by one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott. The content is self-evident by the title. We might intuitively know what it means to pray to God for help; it is probably our default prayer mode most of the time. And just last week we focused on giving thanks. It is the concept of “Wow” that I find so compelling as we start our Advent journey.

When is the last time you were filled with a flat-out, jaw-dropping sense of awe and wonder?

Was it the solar eclipse back in August?
Was it in the ferocity of Hurricane Irma as it passed over us?
Was it in a sky-filled palette of colors at sunset or sunrise?
Was it in the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, or the uniting of two hearts in love?
Was it in the beauty of an artistic performance, or in the triumph of human effort?

Lamott offers her suggestions: “Gorgeous, amazing things come into our lives when we are paying attention: mangoes, grandnieces, Bach, ponds. This happens more often when we have as little expectation as possible. If you say, “Well, that’s pretty much what I thought I’d see,” you are in trouble. At that point you have to ask yourself why you are even here … Astonishing material and revelation appear in our lives all the time. Let it be. Unto us, so much is given. We just have to be open for business.”

We all know how to pray for help, and we know what it means to give thanks. I think what we really need right now is a renewed sense of the wonder of God in our lives.

Think about it. We live in a time filled with such hopelessness and despair about the condition of our country, our world, and our future. We have broken relationships, unfulfilled dreams, and physical afflictions. This supposedly “most wonderful time of the year” is replete with noise and busyness, distracting us with voices around and within us.

Wouldn’t it be nice if somehow, in some way, God’s spirit of awe and wonder could break through and take our breath away so that, in Anne Lamott’s words, we could make room for new breath?

That is the premise for our Advent journey this year, which we are simply calling “The Wonder of Christmas.” Each week, we will explore a different way that we can make room for the new breath of God, the coming of Christ in our lives. We will follow the four traditional theme words for Advent:

December 3
The Wonder of Hope
Isaiah 9:1-6

December 10
The Wonder of Peace
John 14:27-28

December 17
The Wonder of Love
Luke 1:46-55

December 24
The Wonder of Joy
Luke 2:8-20
(Christmas Eve)

I hope you’ll try to join us for each of these four upcoming Sundays. It is my hope that you will emerge from this Advent journey with a diminished sense of fear, and a renewed sense of wonder.

For more information about our Christmas Eve schedule, click here.

To help provide hospitality to our thousands of guests that night, click here.

See you Sunday!

Grace and peace,




The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist

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