CHRISTMAS: SMALL COUNTS BIG

J. Grant Swank, Jr.

In an age of monster houses and humungous malls, it is a breath of fresh air to come upon Christmas.

In a time of church-growth-regardless and humans-turned-into-stats, it is such a break from the religious strain to come upon Christmas.

After all, Christmas offers nothing but small.

There is a loft at the end of a horse-parking lot outside a nondescript tourist home.  Nothing impressive, really.

There are inside that loft a few roosters and chickens, some hay rats playing tag and a few donkeys ignoring it all.  Not all that sheik.

There is alongside the donkey a cow’s trough filled with sticky straw, scratchy-and-all-that to the human flesh.  Not all that bed-n-breakfast variety, actually.

There is inside that cow’s trough a tiny baby–making funny faces, sleeping on occasion, crying some, goo-gooing into His mother’s kind eyes and then scanning this foster father’s rough beard.  Not really a royal Kodak moment.

There is nothing Trump Tower about this whole scene, let alone Crystal Cathedral nor St. Peter’s in Rome.

Nevertheless, there it is—plain and simple–and small small small.

Which brings to my memory a little church atop a village hill in Nova Scotia.  Plus a suburban church outside Boston where a couple dozen gather faithfully.  Still another typical New England sanctuary in hamlet Monson.

Not much on the charts.  Not much to report for the figures.  Not much to write up in the annals of numerical catalogs.

Just a humble spot here and there–small.

It is not that “small” is more holy than large.  It is just that God has a particular liking for small.  And humble.  And out-of-the-way.  And at times even downright scuttle-butt, like Nazareth.

Yet what marvel is wrapped up in small when God takes hold of the trimmings!  From a manger comes the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  From the stable comes the name Mary, a Jewess remembered for all time for her lowliness.  Plus a carpenter Joe who has been especially revered by men world-’round–generation upon generation.

It reminds me of people I’ve met in my own sojourn.  They were usually the peasant types, poor and not that much into worldly power or prestige. You might call them “small.”

Yet out of those broken, nobody-from-noplace lives have come such utter kindness, sacrifice and wisdom that would set any Bethlehem head aspinning.

That’s why I tend to gravitate toward the border people, that is, those who are often lined up against the wall, sometimes even dumped out because they don’t count.

I find them particularly jeweled inside, where it counts.  I have discovered that God does, too.

So the next time that you are tempted to be enamored by the large, big, blown-out-of-proportions religious
this-or-that, why not count yourself out for a change?

When you do, you may just find yourself all the way back to Bethlehem.  And what a blessing you will come upon–roosters, shepherds, hay and all.

Please start this Christmas.  In so doing, you will come upon God’s real Christmas–your reason for breathing.

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