From the Pulpit 12/24/1982
Love more enduring than Crowns
This week Prince Charles and Lady Diana had camera crews and new photographers in to record their 6 month old princeling in hi s silk bloomers, teething while they waved hankies to get him to smile. Even in a democracy like ours the everyday goings-on of monarchs can command an audience or set a trend.
Perhaps baby clothiers will offer silk bloomers now, just as bridal solons copied Diana’ puffy gown. And publishers will sell baby William paper dolls.
But what was endearing was to see this royal couple cooing and chucking their fat little baby, just as parents who, so far from being on TV, have never seen one.
When all is said and done such common everyday family love and attention will probably matter more to William than any crown they bequeath him.
Certainly it matters what thrones and congresses and parliaments do. Herods of today can be no less paranoid. Their fixations on “national security” can lead with terrible logic to holocausts and to death of innocents no less surely than long ago in Bethlehem.
But I remain convinced that w hat matters finally, what enures–if anything does– will not be the result of military police action or presidential decrees, but of something far less public and more ordinary.
We remember at Christmas how God slipped into the world through a little cowshed. No mobile news crew ever covered the event or interviewed Joseph afterward. No one remembered the transient couple after they had been turned away from lodging houses. Only a few friendly shepherds, who were up anyway, were on hand to admire the new child.
So unnoticed God comes as if to say it always was the quiet things that ended up mattering. The lifetimes spent in loving, teaching, and listening to children. The somebody who stood with you when all you could do was cry. The neighbor who helped and really never thought of it as a favor you had to return. It will matter a lot more, ultimately, that you were decent to the people with whom you worked than whether you got a promotion. What is ultimately significant will not be read in the hierogphys on ticker tape but in the generosity toward those in need. The joy of living comes in loving. The good of owning anything comes in having something to give.
There are people who, if we never help we will not be scolded, nor if we do will we be noticed. But that little child in ragged bedclothes tells us that it is what we do and who we are even to the least of all that catches God’s eye.