Good stories endure for a reason. You and I could argue why. I might cede a couple points to you, and you to me. But at the core of every good story are characters willing to say yes. You need conflict and a character or two willing to risk something. Maybe that something is their own pride or maybe it is their life. But you have no story without risk.
The fuel for that risk is curiosity. All the great ones have it. By great ones, I mean the people we read about in our Bible. These are people willing to trust a voice they can’t see, a voice that often tells them to do crazy, ridiculous things. Noah builds an ark. Abraham leaves his land and his family. David fights a giant. And so on. These are ridiculous requests uttered by an invisible Presence. But these men looked beyond logic and trusted this voice.
Advent is saturated with curious characters. Mary, the mother of the Savior, listens to the voice of an angel, who utters some of the craziest non-sense about becoming pregnant without having sex and then giving birth to the son of God. It is ridiculous talk. Good, Bible-believing forget this. We’re plagued by familiarity. This is absurdity of the highest order, and Mary had every right to reject or ignore the whole encounter. Chalk it up to hallucination or exhaustion. I would have. Let’s be honest, you probably would have too.
By reason and logic alone, Mary had no reason to say yes. But she did. She did because she was willing to entertain a world she could not see. She was willing to step into a reality that did not yet exist. We could go down the line, right? Joseph. The wise men. The shepherds.
The common thread with every character in Advent is curiosity. What they see and hear doesn’t make sense. If they say yes, they might fall flat on their faces. The might lose their source of income or their lives. If they say no, however, they lose something as well. They lose the opportunity to see their lives changed, to experience God.
Curious people are the ones who see God.
And that’s tragic because curiosity is lost in American Christianity. The church doesn’t love curiosity. Curious people are threats. They ask questions. They explore. They don’t accept the status quo. Curious people know, however, there are too many good and beautiful truths outside this current reality. Curious people listen to different perspectives. They are open to larger truths beyond their little truth.
Curious people are prophets. They have explored the grounds beyond their church walls, so they can see through many of the facades. They know God is out there as much as in here. These are the Marys and Josephs among us, the ones willing to say yes to God, even if their yes is illogical or dangerous. They refuse to play it safe. They can’t. They have seen a great light, and they must follow it.
The gatekeepers of the status quo do not like curious people. They are labeled as disruptors, non-conformists, and troublemakers, as if those are negative tags. They aren’t.
Without non-conformists, almost every story in the Bible would cease to exist. The Bible would be a stale, lifeless collection of uninteresting stories, and none of us would read it.
This says something about us and our churches, that we read about Noah and Abraham and Mary, story after story of regular people taking risks to experience something more. Then we put down our Bible and think we can experience God while prioritizing our comfort.
Advent is a reminder, a jolt to wake us from the trance of auto-pilot. We can’t continue with business as usual and expect to experience God. If the spilled ink of Scripture tells us anything, it’s that God exists beyond the realm of what makes sense. God comes to us, like he did to Mary and Joseph, and he asks us to step out of our comfort zone, to envision a world we don’t yet see. “Come,” God says, “outside the gates of your own ego, outside the walls of what makes sense. I’m waiting for you.”
Those who practice curiosity, who embrace new ideas and different perspectives, these are the ones who will see the fullness of God. These are the ones who will visit the manger and have their lives transformed.
Will we open our hearts and minds to something new? Will we entertain the impossible? Will we step outside the walls of our own comfort and security? Will we write a story worth sharing?
Will you step into the unknown? God waits for you there.
Grace and peace, friends.