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This Christmas Think Small—God Does

But you, O Bethlehem… who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. (Micah 5.2)

If I were in charge of staging the birth of Jesus, the promised Messiah, I would consult the producers of the closing ceremony at this summer’s London Olympics. Did you see it? It was a spectacle of spectacles. Lights, camera, casts of thousands, no expenses spared, pull out all the stops—that would be my approach if I orchestrated God’s incarnate appearance in the world. After all, given what we do to celebrate the accomplishments of mere mortals every four years, the birth of the immortal King of Kings should be feted even more, right?

Well, not according to God. That’s just not His style. God plans His own coming out party simply by speaking a small word of prophecy through a humble shepherd/prophet named Micah 700 years before the actual birth. Just a little, quiet whisper of a word, without any commercial build up, is what God does.

And God chooses not one of the grand cities of the world to host the event, no place like London or Beijing or New York. Instead, He picks a small, little, obscure village, maybe 25 families living there, just a small group of farmers and shepherds, a place called Bethlehem, too little to be counted among the clans of Judah. Little and least Bethlehem, not Jerusalem or Athens or Rome or Alexandria, is where He wants to stage the grand ceremony.

O little town of Bethlehem, the hometown, as a matter of fact, of a little, small, insignificant person whom God chose to play a big part in the birth ceremony. Three hundred years before He spoke through Micah—1,000 years before the actual birth—God directed the prophet and judge Samuel to find the family of Jesse in Bethlehem. There God said Samuel would find Israel’s anointed king.

Jesse, so pleased that one of his seven fine sons would be appointed for such honor, walks them one by one past Samuel, beginning with his eldest son, strong, handsome Eliab. And one by one, Samuel says, “not that one.” Samuel asks, “are these seven all you have?” And Jesse suddenly remembers. “Well, I guess there is one more. But he’s just a child, so small, little, young, and insignificant, hardly worth your time.” Bring him here, says Samuel. So the eighth son, a boy named David, is brought out. We know the rest of the story. From the House of David, Jesus comes.

O little town of Bethlehem, home of little David, where at the right time a young, small teenager named Mary gives birth in a place where sheep and animals are housed at night, scrambling to turn a feeding trough into a makeshift manger for her firstborn son, a little, small, vulnerable baby.

We humans exult in big, over the top spectacles and grossly expensive celebrations of human achievement. But God loves to work and celebrate in small, little, quiet ways, just as He did at Christmas.

Why am I thankful for God’s way of doing things? It means my life is not too small or little for God to work His power. It means I’m not too insignificant for Jesus to love. It means my heart is just the right size to serve as a manger where He might be born again—for me. And for you. It means too that the small, little, seemingly insignificant gifts we give in Jesus’ name at Christmas usually generate the biggest, greatest, and most important joy in others.

This Christmas, think small. God always does.

Mark Graham is the Senior Pastor at St, John’s Lutheran Church located at 4608 Brambleton Ave. Visit them on the web at:

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