By God’s Side: December 2, 2020

Weekly Inspirational Reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles

December 2, 2020

The Reverend Dr. John A. DallesIf you have been watching the national news and managing to wade through all of the seemingly endless reporting about the coronavirus and about the unusual political scene, you also may have seen what I consider to be just about the best news of the past several weeks.

When the giant evergreen tree from upstate New York made its 170-mile journey to where it now stands as the official New York City Christmas tree, it was not alone. Well, of course it wasn’t. In addition to the usual participants in such a trip – the rig driver and helpers – there was one more passenger that no one could have anticipated: a diminutive saw-whet owl.

You may have seen the photos of this little guy. Nothing could be cuter than those big yellow eyes and beautifully feathered face. Somehow or other, he managed to be a stowaway. As the tree was hoisted into place in front of the RCA Building, and as the workers removed the twine that bound the boughs, there he was, in all of his indisputable wonder. Maybe he had heard about the Big Apple and wanted to see it for himself. Or maybe, gently held and cared for by hands that folded round it almost like a prayer, this was a kind of Advent miracle.

Can something so small bring such a measure of joy? Can an unexpected surprise brighten a world that is feeling frankly glum? Can one living being enrich lives far beyond those who will ever see it in person, or hear its voice with their own ears?

Of course, those questions pertain to “Rockefeller the Owl.” But, even more, they can serve as a reminder to us that the Messiah, whose arrival is soon upon us, comes as a small child, yet brings immeasurable joy, brightens this world with a light that shines into even the darkest of places, and offers hopefulness. The one eternal God is coming to enliven hearts and minds.

This Advent season, look for the small things, for they are the matters of everlasting worth. May you find them in expected and unexpected places.

The Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles
Interim Senior Pastor, Shadyside Presbyterian Church

About Dr. Dalles

Read more about Dr. Dalles.

Watch a brief video introducing a series of conversations with Dr. Dalles.

About By God’s Side

Shadyside Presbyterian Church publishes By God’s Side, a weekly series of inspirational reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles, to support you in your spiritual journey. These pastoral messages appear in the blog section of the church website each week. (Our weekly e-newsletter includes an excerpt to remind you to read along with us regularly; click here to subscribe to the e-newsletter if you do not already receive it.) We hope this regular feature will help you to draw closer to God’s side in your life of faith.

Read more reflections by Dr. Dalles from By God’s Side.