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Sensory Experiences for Christmas Wonder

We can discover spiritual wonder through our physical senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting. The first Christmas was full of sensory delights. This Christmas, pursuing inspiring sensory experiences can help us experience the Christmas wonder of God’s presence with us.


Our family’s home is filled with a variety of items that spark our senses during Christmas. Our Christmas lights brighten the evenings. Christmas music plays often in our home, and we even have jingle bells on a door so we can hear them whenever it opens and closes. We have a spruce tree candle and frankincense and myrrh soap with delightful Christmas fragrances. Our nativity scene – a souvenir from our family trip to Bethlehem – brings back inspiring memories when we touch its olive wood. Each day throughout Advent, we count down the days until Christmas Eve with Advent calendars that feature delicious chocolate.


What are your own favorite ways to experience Christmas through your senses?


On the first Christmas, people experienced the “good news that will cause great joy” (Luke 2:10) of Jesus’ birth in a diverse variety of sensory ways. God filled the sky with a wondrous celestial display that surely captivated the people who saw it. A great number of angels also joined their voices in a symphony of praise that must have inspired those who heard it. Luke 2:9-14 reports: “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’”


The Bible story about the Maji’s journey describes wondrous scents. Matthew 2:11 reports: “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Frankincense and myrrh both have distinctive fragrances, and all gifts the Maji presented to Jesus has special spiritual significance – gold represents kingship, frankincense represents divinity, and myrrh represents suffering.


People like the shepherds who visited newborn Jesus and knew that he was the world’s Savior must have celebrated with joy. It was common then – as it is today – to celebrate over meals together. Eating food presents many opportunities to engage the senses of touching and tasting.


When speaking about his spiritual work in our world, Jesus often uses phrases that relate to our physical senses. He says in John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In John 6:35, Jesus declares: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”


As we pay attention to our physical senses this Christmas season, we can discover spiritual insights that lead us to wonder. Sensory experiences can help us notice God’s presence with us and inspire us to communicate with him through prayer and meditation. Learn more about how to discover spiritual wonder through your physical senses in the “Use Your Senses” chapter of Wake Up to Wonder. The more we use our senses to build closer relationships with God, the more we can experience the true meaning of Christmas.


So, let’s enjoy as many Advent and Christmas sensory experiences as possible this month: Christmas lights, Christmas carols, Christmas candles, Christmas crafts, Christmas cookies, and much more!





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