This Sunday, November 29, is the first Sunday in the season of Advent. This Sunday marks the beginning of the worship calendar for Christians. We begin in anticipation of and preparation for the birth of Jesus. We will remember at the beginning of this season how sometimes that which seems small and insignificant ends up being what matters most. Sometimes what is most important isn’t apparent at first.
Take the year 1809, for example. Important things were happening that year:
• The Illinois Territory was created.
• Robert Fulton revolutionized travel with the invention of the steamboat.
• The Supreme Court of the US ruled that the power of the federal government is greater than any individual state.
• James Madison succeeded Thomas Jefferson as President of the United States.
• The Napoleonic Wars continued to rage — the Pope was even arrested by Napoleon’s forces that year.
Those were the headlines. If there had been a CNN in 1809 it would have covered those events. Important events. World-changing events. But some of the most important events of 1809 did not get news coverage and CNN would not have had them on the radar screen. Babies were born. Just little babies. Yet, their births would one day have a great impact: the blind would be able to read and write, grain would be more easily harvested, increasing food production, beautiful music and poetry would be written, a nation would be held together, and the oppressive and dehumanizing institution of slavery would come to an end. You see, the big events of 1809 were the births of
• Louis Braille, Creator of the Braille system of writing for the blind
• Cyrus McCormick, who invented the grain harvester
• Felix Mendelssohn, Composer
• Alfred Lord Tennyson, Poet
• Abraham Lincoln, 16th US President
They were just little babies — but they would grow up to change the world.
It is nothing new for little babies to be ignored on the world stage. When Jesus was born in a stable in a small town outside the halls of power, there were important events taking place in important places like Rome and Jerusalem. Big shots were in charge. Chief among these were Caesar Augustus, Quirinius, and Herod. All eyes were on them: they were the ones in power, they were the ones guiding the course of history, their kingdoms mattered most, and they were the newsmakers.
But, the Little One in the stable would grow up to announce another vision of a kingdom. He called it the kingdom of God and invited people to turn and become a part of that kingdom. That Little One, Emmanuel, God With Us, would change the world, bringing life and hope.
I look forward to worshipping with you Sunday, as we anticipate and prepare ourselves to receive the Christ Child anew in our hearts and lives.
Grace and Peace,