~What Makes Us Great?~
“Great job,” we tell someone when we like or approve of something they’ve done. “He’s a great man,” we say of a man who has wielded power for the benefit of other people. “Great” was also an adjective used to describe the nemesis of Harry Potter: Voldemort. Voldemort was described as great; he did terrible things but great things, big things, consequential things.
Being great at something can be consequential in ways that help and in ways that hurt. What makes us great? According to Psalm 18, we are made great by God’s care. To acknowledge our greatness in such a way requires us to recognize our utter dependence and reliance on God. This takes humility: knowing we are never self-made.
God provides us with an object lesson in the birth of a baby. Even the essence of God comes into human life utterly dependent on the care of other people. Jesus, we believe, is God’s love incarnate for the world. This love is unreservedly reliant on the care of people whose only power is to love. The care of Mary and Joseph, the care of community from the shepherds, wise men and a faith community in which Jesus will grow, this is what makes Jesus great; this is what makes God’s love great.
Together with God, we birth love incarnate into the world. God is made great by this care we give and we are made great by the care we allow God to give us, even the care through other people. It takes humility to be great. All you have to do is look at the manger to know this is true.