“The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” – Isaiah 11:6
Most of us dream big. I never hear my five year old son say that when he grows up he’s going to become an entry level mail clerk at the local office of the department of National Defense (never mind the fact that he has no idea what that means), he talks about becoming an astronaut who flies rocket ships. When we think about justice or injustice for that matter, so often we speak in the same lofty tones, big talk about the eradication of poverty or the elimination of social injustice in foreign countries. These are good dreams to hold onto and pursue, but so often their achievement begins…in the mailroom, one letter at a time.
C.S. Lewis, in an essay written in 1940 entitled “Why I am Not a Pacifist,” (included in “The Weight of Glory” and Other Essays) said,
I think the best results are obtained by people who work quietly away at limited objectives, such as the abolition of the slave trade, or prison reform, or factory acts, or tuberculosis, not by those who think they can achieve universal justice, or health, or peace. I think the art of life consists in tackling each immediate evil as well as we can…just as the dentist who can stop one toothache has deserved better of humanity than all the men who think they have some scheme for producing a perfectly healthy race.”
One could argue that Lewis’ definition of ‘limited objectives’ was still quite lofty, but his point is good. Our Christian calling begins with small and tangible contexts as a means to a larger end.
It is an advent approach to justice. The Bible tells the story of God and his redemptive ‘dream’ for the world and for his people. But inside that story, the crux of salvation began not with a grand overture but with a baby born in a stable. The first recipients of the news of God’s grace were not those living in the palace of Jerusalem but the local farmers (shepherds) of Bethlehem. To this end our calling today begins on the street we live on, our places of employment and among the people we meet every day. May we with God during this advent season dream big, but begin small.
Lord Jesus, may we embrace the humility you embodied as we live into your redemptive ‘dream’ for the world. Amen
note: this devotion was first published in the Advent devotion series “A Light Shines in Darkness” by the CRC Office for Social Justice on December 14, 2012