The Glory of the Least
Updated: Dec 17, 2021
The Christmas carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” has been the favorite of many for years. The song was written in 1865 by Phillips Brooks, an Episcopal priest from Philadelphia. Inspired by his visit to the village of Bethlehem in 1865, he wrote a poem for his church for Christmas. His organist, Lewis Redner, added the music to it a few years later. After it was published in the English Hymnal in 1906, it became one of the most beloved Christmas carols.
We built our 2021 Advent season around this little hymn based on the symbolism of a little village that became the central focus of new hope for all peoples. The glory of God was not revealed to the world in the hustle and bustle of a city but in the glory of a picayune and quiet village. The Savior of the world did not appear in the ostentatiousness of a palace but was in the glory of a humble stable. God did not appear to the pretentiousness of kings and hollow facades of princes but among the grandeur of poor shepherds and the splendor of the ordinary farmers. God did not appear to the paucity of the wealthy and the vacuousness of the powerful, but God’s glory was lionized among the oppressed and the laureated among the disadvantaged. God’s glory is not with those who demand to be served, but the majesty of God is with those who serve the “least among us.”
Advent is a season that we celebrate the glory of our humility. The radiance of the Church is in opening the eyes of our hearts and “seeing” the least among us, and honoring the image of God in them. Our task is not to judge who will go to “heaven” or “hell,” but our resplendency is in our acceptance of all people with the love of God. God’s majesty is among the “least,” our glory is in our humility.
As we look to 2022, humility will continue to be our word. A little thing called the Corona virus, so small we can’t even see it with our eyes, continue to pummel us. We had hoped that when the vaccines were developed, human ingenuity would triumph, and we would go back to our old lives. But as we are now going into the 3rd year of careful living, there is no end in sight. In our humility, we need to admit that this virus is going to be a permanent part of our lives, and we will have to be cautious for years to come.
We also have been humbled by the continued need of our community members. It is a privilege to serve these families, and many have become friends. The real joy has been developing partnerships and friendships that have enabled us to make a difference in peoples’ lives. Without so many people giving of themselves sacrificially, we could not do what we do.
This year we started Hope Award to recognize those who are agents of hope in our community. The inaugural recipient of this annual award is Mr. Bob Inadomi, the General Manager of Vincente Foods in Brentwood. He is an elder at the Brentwood Presbyterian Church, and when we began our partnership with them, he came to us and offered food on Fridays. For the past year and a half, his store has provided food for 50 to 75 families every week. He so embodies the gospel message of humility that when we informed him of the award, he said he would accept it on behalf of everyone at Vincente Foods. On Sunday, December 19, April Stafford and Shirley Velasco will go to Brentwood to thank them for their partnership in ministry and present Vincente Foods and Bob Inadomi for being agents of hope in our community.
On Christmas Eve, we will gather to celebrate the revelation of God’s glory among us. At 5:30 pm, we will gather for some cookies and cider, followed by a candlelight service at 6:00 pm. With songs of the season and Christmas passages from scriptures, we will await the coming of God’s Anointed. We will close the service by lighting candles to symbolize the presence of God, the Light of the World, among us.
We hope you can join us, but if not, we hope you will find a way for you to reflect on the message of Christmas, the love of God coming among us all to give us hope, love, and peace. May you have a blessed 2022, and may the grace of God be with you all.