Faithful in Little
Proper 20. Year C
September 18, 2022
It’s the little things that count…
“Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much…”
It is human nature to desire to be great or grand—to do big things perhaps. Such a desire can tug at our best and most noble, altruistic instincts. They can also lead us awry when they get away from us—unchecked or unacknowledged.
You remember when Jesus says to the mother of James and John when she asked him to let her sons sit at Jesus’s right hand and at his left—the seats of honor. Jesus responds:
“You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?”
“Oh, yes, we can, we can,” they answered—not understanding that the cup Jesus and they would drink would be the cup of suffering—the cup of sacrifice. Jesus will later teach that if you want to be great, then you must be a servant—and wash one another’s feet—presenting your very selves—your souls and bodies—to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice to God.
It’s the little things…
I believe with all my being that after we cross over to the other side and look back at our earthly pilgrimage we are going to be startled in a serendipitous sort of way that the things that mattered in our lives were the seemingly small things—the things we might not even consider as we go about our day—things such as:
a smile and conversation with a random stranger;
giving way to another in the check-out line at the grocery store;
reading a book to a child;
listening to a child;
listening to an older person;
listening to a younger person;
listening to others—it has been said—is a form of prayer;
serving in worship services—as an acolyte, a reader, a chalice bearer—making room in your pew for another;
preparing the altar;
Mopping the floor in Walton and Guerry Hall—
okay—now I am getting specific to us and our current context and calling.
It’s the little things that become so very sacred and indeed grand in the scheme of eternity.
You’ve heard it said that when Franklin Roosevelt was president he also—at the same time—served on the vestry and as warden of his Episcopal parish in New York. Can’t you imagine the scene at the White House?
“Mr. President, you have a phone call from Winston Churchill. He’s asking when you are going to send assistance.”
“Okay, put him through.”
“Franklin, there’s a war going on and I need your help.”
And—at the same time:
“Mr. President, you have another call from your rector. It seems there’s a tree leaning over the walkway to the church and it’s creating a dangerous situation and needs to be removed.”
“Okay, put him through.”
And the question is:
“Hey. Could you remind us the name of the fellow you use in such situations? Great, we’ll send a check down there to Washington for you to sign so we can get this taken care of before Sunday…”
You’ve heard the story, I’m sure, about the three stonemasons or bricklayers.
A traveller approached each of them and asked the first one, “What are you doing?”
The man responded: “I’m setting stones.”
The person asked the next one what he was doing and he answered: “I’m making a wall.”
He then asked the third one, who responded:
“I’m building a cathedral.”
Keeping the big picture in view when we are doing seemingly small things.
When St. Francis heard the voice of the Lord say to him: “I want you to rebuild my church; as you can see, it’s falling down”—St. Francis did not then allow himself to become discouraged by all that needed to be done—no—he saw every single thing as part of the whole.
Over the last eight weeks it is hard to put into words the many things so many of you have done—big things, small things.
I have friends named Eric Aiken and Darlene Wilson who’ve been coming out here late in the day to mop the floors in both Walton Hall and Guerry Hall. Others of you have done and continue to do so many things as you—we—together—seek to rebuild this church that is our Lord’s very own.
Here are just a few things you have done—and continue to do:
-Going with me to the bank to open a checking account when we finally received our re-incorporation papers.
-Cleaning and mowing and beginning the process of tending to the overgrown cemetery;
-Bringing your own vacuum cleaner and vacuuming the church;
-Arranging beautiful flowers to adorn the altar;
-Saying ‘yes’ to the call to play the organ;
-Proof-reading the bulletin;
-Putting flags out by the road;
-Cleaning and clearing out and cleaning some more;
-Serving as usher, acolyte, crucifer, reader, chalice bearer, verger;
-Setting up and managing and growing every facet of social media and the website;
-Sitting in Guerry Hall—to answer the phone—even when we didn’t yet have a phone;
-Paying the water bill and power bill;
-Setting up the telephone system;
-Ordering a dumpster;
-Beautifying our spaces in every way;
-Cutting the grass because you noticed it needed to be done;
-Taking care of things at both the rectory and at Grace Chapel;
-Getting quotes for all manner of needed jobs;
-Providing sacred stewardship of the cemetery;
-Painting Guerry Hall;
-Teaching Sunday school;
-Contributing financially when you recognize that we are starting over in every way;
-Simply being present and worshipping.
-I also must say—giving me advice on occasion!
This list can go on and on—because you recognize on some level—perhaps a very deep level—that you are not merely setting stones or laying bricks.
You—yes, you—are rebuilding a church—and God has called you—and what a privilege it is when God calls us to serve.
Mother Teresa once said:
“There are many people who can do big things, but there are few people who will do the small things.”
You remember Queen Elizabeth II talked about the importance of doing “small things with great love.”
It’s like my friend Eric whom I’ve already mentioned who says when you cook Okra Soup for somebody—you better cook it with love—or not cook it at all…
The Queen also once mused:
“It’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.”
That’s what Jesus is talking about-.
The little things that build and rebuild lives—your life and mine—and the lives of both church and world.
It’s the little things that count.