though you are small (Advent 4 and Christmas)

It’s snowing here this morning. The flakes swirl just outside my window. It’s a lull before the cooking begins in earnest. It’s a quiet kind of snow. The kind that makes you quiet inside, listening to the Radiolab podcast while you bake peanut butter cookies for your family, while you give thanks. While you remember that Jesus is born today. The celebration is for something that un-theologically-complicated. For something that big contained within something so small.

On Sunday we talked about the prophecy in Micah – “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are of old, from ancient.” (Micah 5.2)

Though Bethlehem was small, though Mary was young, though the story was on its face all difficulty and pain and uncertain outcomes?

Out of that small story comes one who will be ruler over Israel.

As I looked at the small faces in the children’s service last night, wandering up the center aisle carrying sheep and shepherds, carrying an angel, carrying a star to the manger, I heard it again:

but to know me, Hilary, you must become like one of these little children. 

For it is in smallness that God sends might. In the lonely midst of winter that He sends life. And the children, in twirling reds and silvers, in matching shoes and headbands, in stiff collared shirts they want to trade for fuzzy pajamas – they lead the way to the manger. It is these children, squirming through the one hour service, who know Him in the unashamed deep ways we are so often afraid to know Him. They come to the stable unburdened by our shining theology, our complicated words and objections. They come, small ones to see another small one, in the small town in Israel.

Oh, dear friends, have we become too big for this story, with our nuance, with our questioning, with our yes, but…? Have we forgotten that this story does not bring logic, but love?

Because my small friends know. They know when they can’t sit still while we light, finally, the white candle. They know when they carry breakable Mary and Jesus to the manger with their brother and sister. They know when they gather around to sing “O Come All Ye Faithful” loud and off-key in their parents’ ears. They lead the way this Christmas, to the small town and the small baby, to the Love come down bright and everlasting.

Don’t be too big for the story this Christmas. For though Bethlehem was small among the clans of Judah, from that smallness comes the great miracle.

Love, not logic, this Christmas. And the children lead me. 

Love, always, to bear you up and bring you nearer to the great story,


2 thoughts on “though you are small (Advent 4 and Christmas)

  1. Your focus on the small ones this Advent season has been a gift. The horrific events this December has held, the terrible circumstances under which Christmas first began, the innocence that has been stripped from even us grown-ups, has found meaning and dignity in these stories. I’ll miss peeking into this window of your world.

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