Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’” (Mk 9: 33-37)

As Christ offers me this gentle lesson about greatness, He not only talks about service, about being “the last of all” and “the servant of all.” He also talks about child-like simplicity, likening Himself to a little child. Greatness, in His eyes, is both in being of service, and in simply welcoming even the smallest of human beings.

Let me turn things around today, as I continue to prepare to welcome a child; the Child born in Bethlehem. Today let me take a step back from my neediness and expectations or demands of others, and see how I can be of service; and simply be welcoming. Because ultimately, the Nativity Fast and Advent are about preparing a welcome. That is, preparing the heart to soften and open to His coming.

I am helped in this process by other people, great and small, who come my way, when I put them first in any way I can. Today I ask God to clear away any rubble of neediness and expectations, and fill my heart with the grace of His Spirit, of service and simplicity.

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