Small things

Jaymee Glenn-Burns


Image credit:  Wikimedia Commons

What if the small things matter more than we imagine?

One thing that can drown out racist chants, bagpipes. 

If you’re a #Resistance bagpiper you know what to do.

Resistance bagpipers? Yup. At the march in Boston following the violent Charlottesville protests, rows and rows of bagpipers marched loudly and peacefully for racial justice.

I feel a bit overwhelmed every time I read the United Methodist baptismal question, “Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?” It’s an intimidating call, especially on those days when the dog gets sick on the rug, I can’t find my keys, and I’m late for work. The thought that playing the bagpipes might be an act of justice opens up a whole new world of possibilities and hope. I don’t play bagpipes, but what if there’s a place for clarinets and trombones and harmonicas in the resistance? Could it be that painting signs or baking cookies or building tiny houses are also acts of resistance and faith? What if bringing a neighbor their mail or helping a stranded student jump their car are acts of resistance?  What if the small things matter more than we imagine, as the poet Anna Kamienska writes?

It’s not from the grand
but from every tiny thing
that it grows enormous
as if Someone was building Eternity
as a swallow its nest
out of clumps of moments[1]

Could it really be that the “freedom and power God gives” includes the ability to play bagpipes? Can we resist evil with the noise of pipes and drums and laughter? Can we face down injustice with forgiveness and poetry? A God who uses bagpipes can surely employ just about anything in the march toward justice.

Bagpipes as instruments of justice inspire me.  As one who struggles to follow Jesus, I appreciate that little things count.  As a pastor, I wonder what tiny acts and weird talents are hiding in my congregations. As one called to “make disciples,” how do I help others discover the steps they can take, no matter how small, to resist evil and do justice? How does this happen in your life or congregation?

[1]  Anna Kamienska, “Small Things,” in Robin Meyers, , New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015, p. 52.