Chino walked out of the house shortly after sunrise and carefully picked his way down the grassy lane where the cows had recently passed. A farmer in the community had donated a calf to the church and Chino, the young pastor from the big city, was going to collect the animal. The calf was to be sold and the proceeds donated to a poor family whose child had just received a kidney transplant. In addition to the medical expenses, the family was required to build a new, cleaner house before their fragile child would be released from the hospital. So Chino was off to collect the donated calf.
We ate a leisurely breakfast while we waited for him to return, but he didn’t come and he didn’t come. Finally his young wife Marcela suggested that we drive to the church and see if he was there. He was not. Brave little Marcela took the lead and started the worship service. My husband got up to preach and sometime later he noticed that Chino had slipped in the back of the little sanctuary.
The calf had escaped and gone running through the fields. It took several men- all professional ranchers- several hours to pen the beast. Then Chino, covered in mud and smelling like sweaty cow, went home to clean up before arriving late to church. I wonder if he ever imagined starting a Sunday in such a manner when he signed up for the job of pastoring a tiny church in rural Costa Rica.
This church was super tiny, but cute and quaint with it’s heavily plastered walls and colonial arched doors. It had pretty tiles on the floor and rough, hand made benches to serve as pews. The stage was bare except for a hand made, wooden pulpit; no worship band, no big sound system, not even a cross, just simple furnishings. But in that humble, one room church next to the dirt road in the middle of nowhere the King of Glory, the Maker of the Universe came down to be with his children made of dust.
I’m not sure I have ever grasped the magnitude of the coming of the Son of God in the way that I did on that Sunday. I have never fully grasped the disparity between the throne room of God and the humble stable where baby Jesus was born. Yet the God of all creation, the God of the wonders of the Universe, Maker of all life, Author and Artist of all I know came down to this dirty, poor, messy, painful planet to be one of us. God came down to us! The King got off his throne and came to sit in the mud with us. We are nothing- made of dirt- and yet our Creator-King GAVE life to us, GAVE us love, GAVE us understanding and sympathy, GAVE us mercy, GAVE US HIS OWN DEAR SON to save us from ourselves, to save us from the mess we make of all that our dirty hands touch.
And on that Sunday morning God came down to a little, rustic, one-room church in the middle of cow pastures and grassy lanes. God’s Spirit filled the little church where the young, inexperienced pastor and his wife lead 10-12 very poor church folk in giving the only thing they really had to offer- their worship. God came down and sat with us.