Once there was a little girl who was getting excited about Christmas. It was mid-December and she knew that Baby Jesus would soon leave some plainly wrapped packages under what looked like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Not that she had any idea what a Charlie Brown Christmas tree would have looked like. She lived in Slovakia and in Slovakia no one ever spoke about Charlie Brown. And in Slovakia Santa would fill a pair of scrubbed boots with candy and fresh fruit and some of those chocolate coins, but it was Baby Jesus who would leave the packages under the tree some time between worship and dinner on Christmas Eve.
But one year this little girl figured it would be nice to leave a gift for Baby Jesus, too. After all, he has always been so generous, and as Dad and the Sunday School teachers used to say, “He was born for us.” Whatever that may have meant, this little girl knew Baby Jesus deserved a very special gift.
Almost immediately did she reach out to one of her desk drawers and got out a stack of beautifully painted greeting cards. Images of mountains and rivers and little houses in the prairies drawn by children with disabilities. There was something about these cards that this little girl loved and cherished. Maybe it was the beauty of the pictures or maybe it was the admiration of the talent and of the dedication despite what the most of us would deem as unfortunate life circumstances. One day in mid-December, therefore, the little girl parted with her treasured cards and left them out on the window sill as a gift for Baby Jesus.
By now, I’m sure, you have guessed who this little girl is. I’ll be honest with you – I kind of miss her: The priorities, her simple generosity, and the trust that her gift, though modest and inexpensive, will be accepted. When John the Baptist preaches his fiery sermon in the wilderness, he calls us, in unison with the words of the Hebrew prophet, to prepare the way for our Lord. And while he’s most certainly not asking us to leave out a gift on our window sills, I have a hunch he may be addressing our priorities and the attitudes of our hearts. “Repent, for the Kingdom of God has come near” (Matthew 3:2) may seem like way too short of a sermon to preach in preparation for Christ, especially throughout the season that’s so cluttered with quantity, but what a better way to prepare to accept Christ our Savior anew into our lives and our families and our church than that of straightening our priorities, turning towards his example of extravagant generosity, and trusting that Jesus is going to receive our gift of trust in him no matter how small and feeble or shaky?
Mother Theresa once said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we all can do small things with great love.” This saying reminds me of that little girl. It also reminds me of the cards that those children drew and painted despite what life has thrown on them. It reminds me of quality over quantity. And it reminds me of a little church with the big heart. It reminds me of you, friends.