Can We Live With Mystery?

There was a man with whom I once co-taught a Bible class who would often say, “This is going on my list of things to ask when I get to heaven.” He recognized that he didn’t know everything. He knew whom to ask.

We are in Advent. It’s a mystery.

A virgin becomes pregnant. We know that can happen. A couple of hormone-driven teens, sperm gets sprayed a bit, who knows, it happens even without intercourse. But with Mary, we don’t know. There is no detailed manual of exactly what happened. It is a mystery.

Joseph has a vision. Zachariah has a vision, Mary had a vision. Simeon had a vision. Anna the prophetess had a vision. Why so many? At the same time? It’s a mystery.

Jews at that moment of history were living with heightened expectation. I think Greeks and Romans were, also. It was a time ripe for something to happen. Why then? It’s a mystery.

I have some engineering training. Engineers are notorious for seeing things in black/white. A problem solved or not. But I also forged a Liberal Arts education. I’m comfortable with shades of gray, nuance, mystery.

I am not driven to figure out a logical, rational, scientific explanation for all this. It’s a marvelous mystery. And where would we be without the birth of Jesus? But that’s a mystery.

Maybe more of us need to be like my old friend Omar, who admitted he didn’t know everything. But he could be patient and ask and wonder.

Advent isn’t a time to figure out the mystery. It’s a time to revel in it.

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