Cook: Christmas is all about blessing the 'small'
I like my newly adopted hometown of Forest Grove. It's the right "size." I know because I have lived both in "metro" cities and very small rural towns. I grew up in Atlanta, made a career in the Navy and was stationed in various large cities on both coasts. So, to me, Forest Grove is "just right."
Now I know that there are folks that don't want the city to grow anymore. They like it just the way it is, thank you very much. And then in the same breath they say that we need more jobs, infrastructure, better schools, etc. Go figure.
And yet, I understand the attraction of the "big city" and the "big box stores" and just about anything "big." But in a time of monster houses and humongous malls, it is a breath of fresh air to come upon Christmas. In a time of everything needing to be big, it is such a break to come upon Christmas. After all, Christmas offers nothing but small. That's right: Christmas offers small.
You see, there is a stable. In a small town called Bethlehem. Nothing impressive, really. A stable. A barn. Not all that chic. Inside that barn is a manger. A trough used to feed animals. And inside that is a tiny baby —making funny faces, sleeping on occasion, crying some, goo-gooing into his mother's kind eyes and then scanning his foster father's rough beard. Not really a royal Kodak moment. There is nothing Trump Tower about this whole scene. Nevertheless, there it is — plain and simple — and small.
Which brings to my memories all those little towns and churches that we have known or grew up in. A little church atop a village hill where a couple of dozen gather faithfully. Not much fanfare. Not much on the charts. Not a great deal of attention by the media due to tremendous growth. Just humble folk.
And it is not that "small" is more holy than large. It is just that I believe the good Lord has a particular liking for small. And humble. And out-of-the-way. Yet what marvel is wrapped up in small.
It reminds me of people I've met in my own sojourn. They were usually the hardworking types, blue-collar, and not that much into worldly power or prestige. You might call them "small." Yet out of those humble lives have come such utter kindness, sacrifice and wisdom. As a result, I am drawn to the small, the common, the ordinary. That's why I tend to gravitate toward folk like that. I find them particularly jeweled inside, where it counts. And 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-proportion this-or-that, why not count yourself "out" for a change? And you may find that there is a blessing in something small. Now that is something to think about!
Tom Cook is a volunteer chaplain for Forest Grove Fire & Rescue and the Forest Grove Police Department.
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