There was a moment in the movie though, that hit me hard and brought together a number of thoughts I have been having lately.
I went searching for the quote this morning and was pleased to find it on pluggedin.ca.
Gandalf is asked by the elf queen Galadriel why he chose to bring Bilbo and he responds by saying:
“Saruman [another wizard] believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. That is not what I’ve found. I found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk, that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I’m afraid, and he gives me courage.”
Somehow the great truth that is captured by the Hobbit is that it is weakness, not strength that defeats evil. I have been doing a lot of thinking about power and how it works this year, which has been focussed even further by Christmas.
I love how Bono describes the Christmas story, recounting a moment of sitting in a church service:
“The idea that God, if there is a force of Logic and Love in the universe, that it would seek to explain itself is amazing enough. That it would seek to explain itself and describe itself by becoming a child born in straw poverty, in shit and straw…a child… I just thought: “Wow!” Just the poetry … Unknowable love, unknowable power, describes itself as the most vulnerable. There it was. I was sitting there, and it’s not that it hadn’t struck me before, but tears came streaming down my face, and I saw the genius of this, utter genius of picking a particular point in time and deciding to turn on this.”
If I am to be honest, for most of my life, the Christmas story has paled beside the color and excitement of the music, presents, food and bright lights that typify the Christmas experience in the Western World.
The story of a baby born 2000 years ago in the Middle East seemed weak…… But now I am slowly understanding that, that is actually the point.
I have been in ministry for 20 years, and for most of that time I have wanted to get it right, to be successful and influential. The Christmas story and the gospel it introduces stand in the face of any attempts to build a ministry around any sort of ego.
In my quiet time this morning I was confronted again by the fundamental principle of the Kingdom of God that Jesus outlines in Matthew 19:30:
This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”
God’s Kingdom turns the normal order on its head. Tolkien got it right when he chose the weakest, smallest and most un-impressive to defeat the most powerful. It doesn’t make sense, but its actually how the world gets changed for the better.