Jesus came as a baby, small but mighty
Columnist Chris Brekke says as we remember the incarnate God we serve, we look to those who may seem small but have a powerful impact on others.
She was small in stature but large in effect. I had talked and texted with Jessica several times over the last two weeks in regards to my brother, Peter, but had not met her.
Jessica is the house manager at the Salvation Army shelter where Peter has lived for 11 years. He is mostly incommunicado, and has drifted in and out of family contact for decades. Being at the shelter apartments has stabilized his life and put a reliable roof over his foggy head. He began having seizures/blackouts in November, and it was Jessica who became my link to my dear little brother.
She called 911 for the ambulance; she called me; she worked with Mayo Clinic on Peter’s behalf. She went there and stepped right in (just like the Good Samaritan in Luke 10). Jessica has been in her current job for three years, and prior to that did alcohol and drug counseling in jails and prisons. She can speak the language and understand the dynamics of addiction. She is not naive, and is very knowledgeable in this field.
I met her in Peter’s hospital room. I guess I expected a bigger tougher presence. She is petite; (and told me that one of her bonds with Peter is that both of them were gymnasts in high school). Peter went to Mankato State on a gymnastics scholarship, but lasted only one semester before he fell in love with weed and began a life of drifting.
Jessica went up to the hospital to see him a few times, coordinated with their social workers, and knew the medical details via talking with the doctors and nurses. Hospital calls are not on her regular job description, as there is a lot involved in managing a building of various single adults. She oversees and works with the 30 residents at the shelter. I bet she is fixing and refereeing and untangling things much of the day, every day. She is on the front lines with troubled souls.
Most of us prefer some safe distance from troubles. We may care, and want to help, but do not want to be really personally connected. Am I right?
I, for example, do some volunteering and then go home; or I write a check to help out needs, but from the comfort of my living room. Even in my career work as a pastor, that was more like coaching, eh? I preached and prayed and taught, among mostly healthy and able people. As a pastor I got to do lots of personal visits and hospital visits and youth work and such, but not like Jessica does. She is right there daily with the down and out. It is hands-on and hard. May the good Lord bless Jessica, and all of you who do daily hands-on work in difficult situations.
At Christmas, we celebrate that the Creator of the universe came down to our human level; was “incarnate” (“in the flesh, among us”). The Lord did not remain safely in heaven; he didn’t just send a letter or distribute some gifts. Jesus stepped in. This is one of the great distinctives about Jesus and the Christian faith: our leader was not a philosopher or guru or “higher power.” He is not safely above.
Nope, He came down — way down — for even those who revile or ignore Him. He came as a helpless babe, born in a barn. He was small in stature but large in effect. God’s love is incarnational. It is not theoretical; it is tangible, practical, real. What a God! In coming low, He lifts us up to the heights of heaven. Such true sacrificial love. Wondrous. O come, let us adore Him.
Chris Brekke is a retired pastor who served Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Rochester for 13 years and Trinity Lutheran in West Concord for 10. He and his wife live in Roseville, Minn., where he keeps busy with volunteering, church and family.
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