Hope Lutheran Church
Small Things Build Big Connections
Last week a preschool youth in our congregation gifted me a small simple gift, two seashells in a sandwich-sized baggie. I responded with a thank you, and then didn’t think much more of it. Later that evening however, this thought struck me, “This young person was mindful of me, and not just for a split second. This young person purposefully looked at the seashells, found ones that had purple on them, and decided to give them to me because this preschooler knew I was fan of the MN Vikings (whose primary color is purple). Then, this student had a sibling bring them on a Wednesday afternoon with specific instructions to give it to me.” Having thought about this, I was deeply moved to know that in the midst of everything going on in the world, our community, and even in this young person’s classroom... this student was intentionally mindful of me. Since this, I’ve also been intentionally mindful of my preschool sibling in Christ, who reminded me how small things can build big connections.
Sisters and brothers, we miss these small things that happen all around us almost every day. A coloring page given. A greeting or inquiry from another asking how we or a loved one are doing. A birthday card. A hug that responds to whatever we are dealing with. A word of congratulations.
Here’s the thing though. It is hard to acknowledge these small things in our world that seems to shine the spotlight on only the big, the sensational, the over the top. If you disagree, check out the lengths young people go through to ask someone to prom, a promposal, or the elaborate wedding proposals that are beginning to become the norm, instead of the exception. No, I’m not arguing it is a bad thing to spend time to thoughtfully and creatively let someone know you want to go to prom, or marry them. Instead, I am suggesting because our attention is drawn so often to the “go big or go home” mentality we see in the spotlight around us, we notice less and are desensitized to the ways people remind us each and every day that we matter to them. Further, I wonder if we sometimes hold back in sharing in smaller ways, our concern, love, and mindfulness of others, because we think the sign inadequate.
Small things, small acts, small gifts are not inadequate though. Jesus reminds us of this,
“the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes like a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31b-32)
Small things, small acts, small gifts are adequate in expressing to our neighbors, God’s love, our love, and if nothing else, a reminder that someone out there is thinking of us or praying for us. If we think about it, many of our most intimate and meaningful relationships probably started with a series of small encounters and simple conversations, through which a meaningful connection was forged. Even as we interpret these as incredibly meaningful, when we look closely to an invitation to visit, a handwritten note, or another small thing, we’ll discover the words said, the pen to paper, or act of kindness was really an everyday thing.
The beauty of this is that small signs are much easier to share than big elaborate ones. We could share, and probably do share these small signs a number of times each day. We could also share more, and in so doing continue to forge deep meaningful relationships with our neighbors of all generations. We’ve all witnessed how meaningful it is for an adult to share affirmation with young people. It is life changing. I hope we’ve all experienced a young person’s story that transformed our day. These things are not hard to do, and they are already all around us.
Small things build big connections, and Jesus leads the way in reminding us of this. Water with God’s Word becomes a life-giving water connecting us all together, and connecting us to God. Bread and Wine, consumed in response to God’s command, “take and eat... drink of it all of you”, alongside the promise, “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins”, gives exactly what is promised. The real presence of Jesus for you. This is good news for us and this world.