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When Small is Great

Living small lives of great significance.


Every once in a while in American culture there will be a court case that sort of captures our whole nation. That's not a recent phenomenon, it's actually been going on for a long time. There was a case like this in the 1840s. It was based in Chicago, which was then sort of the Western frontier. It was called "The Reaper Case." It was based off Cyrus McCormick, who had invented a certain kind of farm machinery, and it was patent law. This was a rather obscure case, but for cultural reasons it captured the American attention and imagination. It was so important it was one of those court cases where the legal rock stars lined up against each other for and against. They would usually gather along the East Coast, because they were primarily educated in Ivy League schools. But they had to come all the way west to Chicago to try the case, and they knew that the judge was a Chicago judge. So they said we need a sort of Western, what we would call Midwestern insider. So they worked their networks, and they found a rather obscure, small town lawyer who had worked with this Chicago judge before, and they invited him to come up to Chicago to be part of the court case.

They all came in with their trunks and with their Ivy League degrees and their erudite abilities, and when they met this small-town lawyer that would be part of their team they were absolutely mortified. He was ill-kept. He was poorly dressed. He had a really strong accent, and he consistently used vernacular of folksy phrases that for them was very off putting. They thought that he is involved with the case they will lose the case. One of the leader's lawyers, a man named Edwin Stanton, said—and he did this so that the ...

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Stewart Ruch III is the rector of the Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois and the bishop of the Midwest Diocese for the Anglican Church in North America.

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Audio Sample:

Sermon Outline:


I. Small is the new significant

II. Freedom from culture

III. Freedom to love

IV. Freedom of being loved