What are the occasions that are really wonderful? If I answer without considering very much, I may be inclined to say "when someone rushes out to greet and embrace me, the fatted calf is called for, and a grand celebration begins." Now, there is nothing wrong with celebrations. I believe there is something in the human spirit that yearns for laughter, song, dance,and a really great meal! But is there not more, in a less demonstrable way?
A few days ago I was driving through a quiet neighborhood in our city. Under falling leaves from huge trees in the yard, I saw a sight that tugged at my heart. An elderly man (probably about my age!!) was tossing a football back and forth with a young boy that I would guess to be 9 or 10. As I passed on by that heart-warming scene I wondered, what caused that to happen? What was that older gentleman trying to accomplish? Was he just bidding time, spending a few moments with his grandson or nephew or neighbor boy? Or in moments of nostalgia, was he remembering his day on the gridiron, touching the ole pigskin in front of cheering fans? Was he trying to teach something to the boy about life being a "contact sport?" Was it a regular feature of their life where they took the time to be together?
Whatever the reason, I am going to make a big guess that when the boy is the man's age, he may still remember that fall day in a front yard, passing a football. Some kind of seed was planted. Little things mean a lot.
Our community of faith had a scare this past Friday. A mother and her teenage soon were involved in a serious car accident. The mother has a broken sternum and the son has severe injuries to his face that will require surgery and, probably, a lengthy time of healing. They are going to be all right. But it was scary.
Folks began to come from everywhere. Showing up at the hospital, calling and e-mailing each other to pass the word, asking in so many ways, "What can I do to help?" The healing season has started. In the meantime meals will be brought in, transportation offered, errands run. Little things that will make a difference.
When Jesus walked the hills of Galilee, we only have record of his teaching, healing, and sharing of meals. What we don't hear much about was those moments when, traveling from village to village, he listened, tried to clarify, encouraged those who were seeking to understand his communication about this matter called the reign of God. Quiet, personal moments that were on-going.
It's the little things that matter.