Brother Lawrence said that ‘We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.’ This could be a motto for this year’s BBC Radio 4 Christmas Appeal which uses the slogan ‘Small Action Big Difference’. Jesus taught that truth when he told the Parable of the Mustard Seed, where a small action – the sowing of a small seed – led to the growth of a large plant.

We see it illustrated, too, in Jesus’ incarnation which, as Dr James Allan Francis reflected in a sermon preached in 1926 was one solitary life which nevertheless had a massive impact: ‘Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. Long centuries have come and gone but all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of humans upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.’

As we begin Advent we would do well to reflect that the nativity we are preparing to celebrate is the ultimate expression of a small action with a big impact. As we support the 2017 Christmas Appeal let us, like Brother Lawrence, learn to value small actions recognising that, by doing so, we are following in the footsteps and the teachings of Christ.

Revd Jonathan Evens