Why and Wow

Yesterday I had the opportunity to preach at River Glen Presbyterian Church in Naperville. Like most congregations, River Glen is easing into a post pandemic worship. They are doing a hybrid service with people online and people present in the sanctuary. Those in the sanctuary must wear a mask. Yet, the sense of community and fellowship can still be felt. The music from the worship band (and fabulous saxophone player!) is outstanding. Most important is the palpable presence of God reflected on the faces and heard in the laughter of people with occasional “Amen!”
One of my biggest takeaways from the service was the children’s message presented by the Director of Children and Family Ministries, Megan Elder. Like any good children’s message, there was a strong sermon for the adults tucked inside the words and objects for the children. Only two children came forward and Megan had a message for them as though they were 20 strong!
One little girl named Aria was striking. Every congregation with children has that child who stands out for a variety of reasons. In this case, little Aria had the answers to every question Megan tossed at them. “What is the season we’re beginning today?” Aria: “Lent.” “How long was Jesus in the wilderness?” Aria: “40 days.” “And what was the first temptation?” Aria: “To make stones into bread.” I was impressed! I asked if her parents were pastors!
After worship little Aria came up to me and presented me with a gift: a small cross she’d cut out and colored. It had the words, “God Loves You” written on it. I was so grateful! Her parents then exclaimed how curious Aria is and how observant she is about her environment wherever they are.
Aria is a child filled with curiosity and wonder. Curiosity and wonder are the “why” and “wow” of life! We seem to lose these gifts over time as we become adults. In his book, The Anthropocene Reviewed, John Green writes, “We are never far from wonders. . . Aesthetic beauty is as much about how and whether you look, as what you see. From the cork to the supernova, the wonders do not cease. It is our attentiveness that is in short supply. Our ability and willingness to do the work that awe requires.”
My lesson from Aria is to remain curious this Lenten season. We are challenged to look and question and to see the wonders that are around us. Maybe we will encounter the God who draws us closer because of our curiosity and wonder like Moses and the burning bush. May this Lenten season be a time of learning, growing, and faithfulness filled with why and wow!
Rev. Craig M. Howard