There is a constant isometric tension in the human mind between believing we are choosers, full of control and agency—and believing we are small, carried by the forces of nature and the timeline of history we ride. It’s apparent in every aspect of life, and summed up nicely by Psalm 8. The Psalmist first shows us our insignificance:
When I look at your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars
that you have established—
what are human beings
that you remember them,
mortals, that you care for them?
And then, immediately, affirms the other side:
Yet you have made them
a little lower than angels,
and crowned them
with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion
over the works of your hand;
you have put all things
under their feet.
We carom in our self-assessment between these two extremes: are we grandiose, or little more than dust? Are we immensely powerful, if only we were to use it—or are we, in the end, a speck on a blue marble, atomic in comparison with the great scope of the universe?
As the supermoon floats overhead, I will be using the multitudes of stars as a comfort: my sins, history’s errors, our world’s pettiness, and even today’s wounds can be healed by God’s connection, and our someday-home in heaven. Yet, beneath those heavenly bodies, we are here: alive, given time, filled with breath, inspired, and important in our work—because that history, and those wounds, and those hurt by our sins, can only be corrected by the love, grace and actions of persons just like we ourselves. We are small, yes—but we are alive, and there is no giving back that gift for us, until it has been all used up for God’s goodness.
In this Advent, when we watch the coming of our God in the form of an infant child, do not forget that power takes a small form, and true greatness never comes except through humility.
Be well, pray often, and do it all with love.