“I Wonder as I Wander” has always been a very meaningful Christmas carol for me. It was discovered by John Jacob Niles who spent many years wandering around the Appalachian Mountains in search of the origins of folk songs. On a cold day in December in North Carolina, he heard the sound of a little girl singing a song.
This was a song that was new to Niles, and when she finished he asked her where she had learned the song. She explained that her mother had taught it to her, just as her grandmother had taught it to her mother before her. Niles wrote the words to this beautiful carol in a small tablet, and they stayed with him for a long time, for in his mind they were deeply spiritual, thoughtful, and contained in a profound way, the joy and wonder of Christmas. Just before the beginning of WWII, Niles introduced this song wherever he could and those who heard it were in awe. Until his death, Niles searched for the source of the carol but he never did find the author. He concluded that the little girl was an angel sent to deliver a message of the wonder of Christ’s birth.
To me the words capture the wonder of Christmas; the wonder of a star and of a young woman and young carpenter who received wondrous dreams and angelic visitations. I see in the Christmas story the wonder of Incarnation, of angelic choirs filling the night sky with songs of promise and praise. I see the wonder of lowly shepherds becoming the first witnesses to God’s salvation, and the wonder of the Magi bearing wondrous gifts to a small child who would be king.
Advent begins on Sunday, November 27. Advent is often thought of as a countdown to Christmas. Each Sunday we will light the candles of our Advent wreath, remembering how our celebration of the arrival of the Light of the World draws near. We will also anticipate that one day, he will come again. Our Advent theme this year is “The Wonder of Christmas.” We will explore the wonder-filled aspects of the Christmas story and reflect on the wonder of God’s great love for us, a love made real when we share it with others.
I encourage you to join us each Sunday as we embrace and celebrate the wonder of Christmas, believing that because of God’s great love and light in Jesus Christ, anything is possible! Oh, the wonder of it all! He is here, among us, beside us, with us, and for us. I pray for each and every member and friend, a joy-full, meaningfull, and wonder-filled Christmas!
I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die,
For poor ordinary people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.
In Christian love, Pastor Joel
Rev. Dr. Doris Barron-Shell