And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. -Luke 2:8
“How They See It: People Who Matter on What Matters Most.” So says the cover of the current issue of Newsweek. Pictured are Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton, Tim Geithner, Eric Holder, etc. In other words, the people who matter are politicians and bureaucrats, the white-collar parasites who work with politically-connected elites to feed lavishly off wealth created by productive people in all countries. Yes, it’s the rich and powerful who matter.
The wealthy didn’t see the glory of the Lord the night described in Luke 2, however. Shepherds did. How many untold saints have wished to see what those blessed shepherds saw?
That’s how the Lord works. Local events change the world. They don’t usually occur in Herod’s palace, but instead among those who don’t “matter.” Years and years of tedium, and then boom, a surprise. The church was built and maintained by people who don’t matter to those who worship at the altar of this perishing world.
Malcolm Muggeridge was in Russia during perhaps its most vicious era in the early 1930s. Encompassed by Stalinist oppression and starvation, which has few parallels in human history, this was his impression:
It just suddenly seemed to me that Russia was a beautiful place– these pine trees, dark against the snow which had now begun to fall, the sparkling stars so far, far away, the faces of the Russians I met and greeted, these also so beautiful, so clumsy and kind… In the woods there was a little church, of course disused now. The fronts of such churches, like the Greek ones, are painted with bright colours; blues bluer than the bluest sky, whites whiter than the whitest snow. Someone — heaven knows who — had painted up the one in the Kliasma woods. Standing in front of this unknown painter’s handiwork, I blessed his name, feeling that I belonged to the little disused church he had embellished, and that the Kremlin with its scarlet flag and dark towers and golden spires was an alien kingdom. A kingdom of power such as the Devil had in his gift, and offered to Christ, to be declined by him in favour of the kingdom of love. I, too, must decline it, and live in the kingdom of love. This was another moment of perfect clarification, when everything fitted together in sublime symmetry; when I saw clearly the light and the darkness, freedom and servitude, the bright vistas of eternity and the prison bars of time. I went racing back over the snow to K[itty, his wife], breathing in the dry icy air in great gulps of thankfulness.
This is what our Lord offers. Not the compromised wishes and power trips of thieving politicians, but the “brights vistas of eternity” in His glorious presence.