Widening the Circle
Deb Crowley of Urbandale, IA, USA
May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.
For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight. -Psalm 72:11-14
How I wish the word “they” out of existence at times! It’s so easy to love, share our resources with, sacrifice for, and extend grace to family members and extended family members. It’s not so difficult to expand our care to others in our sphere of influence, those whose faces we know and connect with. For the most part, we understand circumstances surrounding their choices and give folks near and dear to us some “wiggle room” or grace. Our hearts see the Christ in their eyes and hearts and understand they are loved unconditionally.
But have you ever noticed, as the circle expands and faces become less visible, it’s easier to judge or blame or criticize? It’s harder to see Christ in the eyes of a politician on the Senate floor arguing a position we disagree with. Or to become suspicious at decisions of church leaders struggling to decide how to keep the church financially viable while congregations struggle to keep their own doors open. Or to see Christ in the eyes of a gun advocate when innocent children have been gunned down in school.
The more our circle widens and the harder it becomes to see Christ in the eyes of the “other,” the easier it is to label them as “they”! “They” are just caving in to big money. “They” do not empathize with our congregation’s situation. “They” are crazy to support gun ownership when so many innocent lives are lost! The “they” list goes on and on.
I’ve been (and probably continue to be) one of the “they”! And, I’ve been one to label “they” when decisions seem unreasonable or disagreeable to me. But we are reminded that, in Christ’s realm, we do not live in a “they” world. It’s “us” and “we.” All are of worth; all are called; we are community. The love we have for our close circle of family and friends is the love Christ calls us to have for the “they” in our lives.
Experience of being a “they” has helped me tremendously to understand the importance of not jumping to quick conclusions, looking not just at one side or two of an issue, but as many sides as possible to get a clearer picture of another’s choices or actions.
To see Christ in the eyes of those we cannot see, but know Christ resides there; to show compassion to those who express harshness and hate; to generously share time, talent, treasure, testimony with those who seem to take and take and take; to sacrifice self for one who may never appreciate the act. To love the “they” in the world because all are God’s children. This is my prayer. Amen.
“May I open myself to change, to being guided by the Spirit; may I risk the unknown and live into the Mystery!” (Nan C. Merrill, Psalms for Praying, 234)
A New Beginning
Opportunities for new beginnings occur in each moment, day, or year. Even when we feel stuck, the Spirit is always offering an invitation to return to our deeper intention of living life fully with God, others, creation, and our truest selves. Pay attention at the opening of this new year to what feels like a fresh beginning in you. Where is the Spirit inviting you into a new possibility, awareness, or way of being?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
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