Daily Archives: Saturday, 26 September, 2009

Drawing the circle wide

Sermon for 27 September

As we listen for the Word of God,
let us pray:
God our joy,
save us from tunnel vision
and scarred hearts;
grant us the singleness of purpose
and the generosity of spirit
which belong to your kingdom;
this we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Reading
Mark 9.38-50

You can divide the world into two groups of people: those who believe you can divide the world into two group of people, and those who don’t.

The disciples belonged to the first group. Jesus belongs to the second.

There’s a little piece of verse called Outwitted, by the American poet Edwin Markham, who died in 1940. It says,

He drew a circle that shut me out –
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.

He drew a circle that shut me out –
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

The disciples were trying to draw a line, a boundary. Someone was casting out demons in the name of Jesus, but he wasn’t part of their group. They were incensed. He wasn’t doing it the way they did it. He didn’t have the proper credentials. He wasn’t part of their franchise! And—worst of all!—he was successful, while the disciples were failures.

The disciples took their case to Jesus. He’d understand, after all he’d chosen them to be his disciples. He’d set this riffraff straight.

No, he wouldn’t. His attitude is simple.

Don’t stop him… Whoever is not against us is for us.

I think this would have put the disciples’ noses right out of joint. They were expecting quick, decisive action from the Master. They wanted Jesus to give this other bloke the flick, but instead they were given a lesson in inclusion. They had drawn a line in the sand, a circle that just included them, but Jesus drew a much wider circle:

But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.

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