This focused my heart and mind as there are many such questions which are bound up in the mysterious. Moreover, as a theologian, a core part of the Gospel is the 'mysterious' and this in itself is a philosophical necessity in the Salvation story.
Christian Faith is mysterious
On the guided tours we lead to Israel with InnerFaith Travel, one of the many 'mysterious' experiences is in Jerusalem, entering into the Great Western Wall tunnel, an 800 metre walk, deep down into the annuls of time, seeing first hand the 75 feet in length magnificent foundation stones of the Herod's Temple precinct.
Visiting Gideon's stream is another 'mysterious' experience as we read the Scriptures of those far off events and one imagines the scene as his selected men drew water to drink.
The Temple of Pan is another 'mysterious' experience where many scholars consider to be the place where Jesus challenged his disciples questioning them as to who they thought he was! Here in the physical background is this tremendous pagan temple carved (as it were) into the rock and this mysterious question comes their way.
Christian history too is replete with this same 'mysterious' – we can think of Justin in the second century, a brilliant student who was searching for truth and peace of soul, walking and chatting along the beach with his mentor, a conversation which changed the course of his life and which eventually led him to martyrdom.
We can reflect on John Wesley's preaching, the results were such, that historians today affirm, that it withheld from England the revolutionary bloodshed that erupted in France.
Remarkable women in modern ministry
Likewise the great women preachers throughout the centuries of whom we know very little, these are direct references from Dr Godon Moyes AC paper on Women in Ministry:
Margaret Fell (1614-1702), the mother of Quakerism. A leader of Methodist congregations in England, Lady Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon (1707-1791). In America, two important preachers during the first years of the Second Awakening (1800-1808) were Deborah Peirce of Paris, N.Y. and Martha Howell of Utica.
Phoebe Palmer (1807-1874), Catherine Booth (1829-1890), with her husband, William Booth, founded the Christian Revival Association in 1865 and the Salvation Army in 1878. Hannah Whitall Smith founded the preaching ministry of the Keswick Convention in 1874. Carrie Judd Montgomery was a healing evangelist of considerable prominence beginning in 1879, and became a founding member, along with A. B. Simpson, of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in 1887.
Maria B. Woodworth-Etter was also involved in the Holiness movement. Her meetings received national press coverage. Aimee Semple McPherson preaching ministry from 1915 eventually founding Angelus Temple in 1923, where she continued as senior pastor until her death in 1944.
Kathryn Kuhlman's ministry began in the summer of 1923. After her ordination by the Evangelical Church Alliance she thrived as a preacher and radio evangelist, gaining a reputation as one of the world's outstanding healing evangelists, carrying on as a leading figure during the charismatic movement until her death in 1976.
Our own Margaret Court is included in this remarkable list. Grand Slam tennis champion come Pentecostal pastor, preacher and evangelist. The Australian Missionary News IPTV interview with Margaret Court is a poignant reminder how our Lord is one of the mysterious. (Video_
Christmas is mysterious
The Bible verse I chose for our Christmas cards this year comes from this theme of the mysterious, the birth of Jesus! Luke 2 verse 18: "And all those who heard it marvelled at those things which were told them by the shepherds."
Explanation to a 4 year old
Four year olds recognise the importance and validity of the mysterious and I asked her to hold a plate and physically put on that plate the packet of "love" she has in her feelings for her mum and dad. Such "love" is real but it is also mysterious. It can't be seen or held or put on a plate.
So too is God. It is good that God is also real and mysterious - God is forever. That's the reason we can trust God – always will be here with us in our heart. Christmas celebrates that God sent Jesus His Son for our Salvation is likewise real and mysterious. It's necessary to the Salvation story.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html