In the church’s calendar today is the day of the fourth century theologian Bishop Gregory of Nyssa, which is in modern Turkey. When I was studying theology, I actually knew a lot about Gregory of Nyssa. I could even answer reasonably well examination questions about him. I think the only thing I remember about him now is something he said: “Doctrines create idols; only wonder comprehends anything. People kill one another over idols. Wonder makes us fall to our knees.”
I remember that saying because I believe it goes to the very heart of religion. D.H. Lawrence once said that we all have a sixth sense, and it is the sense of wonder. And G K Chesterton said that the world will never starve for the want of wonders, but only for want of wonder.
Religion is about a sense of wonder, and about how you respond to that sense of wonder. For me, part of that response is wonder that the created world exists. That it is and I am. And however much we may probe and explore and try to understand the mystery of life something always lies beyond our understanding. All we ever grasp is what the questioning character of Job in the Bible is told are but the fringes of God’s ways.
Martin Dalby, who was a colleague when I worked for the BBC, compared music to religion. “Both,” he said, “try to touch the senses with the magic of wonder.” And then he added “Bad religion answers the unanswerable; great religion cherishes the mystery”.
Loving God, help us to see around us things which should leave us astonished. Amen.