Small Things + Great Love
by Emily Hamilton, Pastor of Missions
published May 1, 2020
The needs of the world feel overwhelming right now. In the midst of this, I find myself facing two temptations. The first is the temptation to do great things: to be a problem-solver, a fixer, a solution-giver. Of course the harder I try, the faster my energy runs out, and I’m confronted with the second temptation: shrinking back and giving up. Why try when it doesn’t seem to make a difference anyway? My days are spent yo-yoing between these two poles: over-functioning and under-functioning, a desire to do great things and a desire to give up. I wonder if you, too, have felt this over the last couple months?
But there is something helping me regain balance. A few weeks ago, a friend reminded me of this quote, often attributed to Mother Teresa: “Do small things with great love.” Like the poor widow offering what she could in the Jerusalem Temple, I am reminded that Jesus shows us she is the example we are meant to follow. Looking at her, Jesus told His disciples, “She has put more in than all the others combined.” (Mark 12:43). And Paul in 1 Corinthians reminded the church that even faith that moves mountains and generosity beyond reason mean nothing without love. In the economy of God’s Kingdom, small things + great love matter, and in this season where we are all forced to relinquish desires for greatness, we get to return to this truth. Small things with great love happen when you call a friend who lives alone to check on them or when you pick up a few extra groceries and drop them off at a food bank. When you do the dishes again for the umpteenth time after feeding little mouths. Or when you wave to your neighbor from six feet away. When you acknowledge racial injustice and take the first step to seek change. When you pray the same prayers over and over again for those in need. When you give of your resources to support the ministry and mission of the church.
Small things with great love can actually change the world.
I was reminded of this again, when we gave from our crisis relief fund in March to help support our local mission partner, Whittier Wildflowers Preschool, which serves families, regardless of income, in early childhood education. In addition to supporting their operations budget during this time of closure, part of the funds went to a grocery gift card for every WW family—many of whom are experiencing furloughs and layoffs. Thank-you notes poured into my inbox:
As a parent at Whittier, I am really touched by this . . . Know we have candles lit and words flung and ideas muttered to God on your behalf.
The gift card was a great surprise to me and my family, and I just want to let you know that we are truly grateful for the generous gift that you have given us.
On the other side of the globe, our crisis funds have empowered our mission partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo to do small things with great love, too. Last year we supported Congo Initiative’s response to the Ebola outbreak that has been ongoing since 2018. CI’s counseling team came alongside families who lost loved ones to Ebola by creating innovative burial rituals—writing letters, singing, planting trees—that gave space for mourning and grief while following Ebola burial protocols. While Ebola continues in the region, they are preparing to build on this work as they expand to assist families also dealing with loss amidst COVID-19. (Read the story from NPR.)
Whether planting trees or providing grocery store gift cards, even our own crisis relief fund isn’t about great things for their own sake—it’s about small things, with great love. As Paul says, “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). Be free from both the temptations of greatness or giving up, and instead, ask yourself, “What’s the small thing God’s calling me to next?”
Ideas to Get You Started
- Know how to sew? CPC sewers are making face masks to distribute to hospitals, high-risk populations, and community organizations. Please follow these instructions and use 100% cotton fabric. Contact Michelle (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more.
- Going grocery shopping?Help us collect food and supplies for Minneapolis! Every Tuesday in June and July from 11:00AM-1:00PM, you can drop off items from our shopping list at CPC. We will then distribute to various food pantries throughout Minneapolis that are serving communities that have lost access to grocery stores.
- Able to deliver food? CPC is partnering with Young Life Minneapolis to deliver a weekly meal to their students and families who have been disproportionately impacted by the economic impact of COVID-19 and the trauma surrounding the death of George Floyd. Volunteers are needed every Monday at 11:30AM, June 15 through July 27, to pick up and deliver meals in Minneapolis. Sign Up