Today's Lectionary Text
Acts 1:8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Here. This is a magic piece of chalk. Now, draw a circle.
There’s only one stipulation. Everyone inside the circle is your responsibility, and everyone outside is not so much.
What size would your circle be?
Most of us have at least a few people we’d want to put inside our circle. Mom and Dad, the kids, your partner and maybe a couple best friends. I know a lot of people who have that size of a circle. They care, first and foremost, about their family. They actively love those in their small circle. And everyone else? Not as much of a prioity.
I know several who might draw their circle around their church. Their chief concern are the families they worship with. That’s where they put their energy and focus. Anyone outside that circle is still a child of God, but their energy goes to their fellow members. The same can be true of clubs, fraternities, teams, and so on.
I know others who draw their circle around their country. They’re concerned primarily with the welfare of their fellow citizens. They think primarily in terms of patriotism, of the national good. People in other countries matter, of course, but not at the level of responsibility as those in the “homeland”.
Still others draw one humungous circle around the planet. Everyone and everything is their responsibility. They worry about the welfare of people they haven’t met. They want the best for those who don’t seem to have a healthy circle of their own. They spread their love far and wide, and perhaps, a little thin at times. With such a wide circle, there’s a risk of overlooking the people right in front of them.
So, pick up your chalk and draw. Is there one size circle that you drift to more than the others? Is your focus too narrow sometimes, or too broad? Do you ever wonder which of all these people you’re supposed to be responsible for?
Jesus offered an answer to this question. He drew concentric circles.
Jesus told his disciples first to be responsible for those close by, in Jerusalem. That was the first circle. The second expanded the area to include all the Jews in Judah. The third circle included Samaria, the hated Samaritans! And finally, he draws his circle around the whole earth.
From the smallest circle to the largest, Jesus draws circles reaching outward. Sometimes we care for our families, giving our closest ones our closest love. Other times we extend our love far beyond our physical reach, to the whole human family.
We make a mistake to pick one size and dwell on one circle. Some people get stuck thinking their family, their football team, their country, etc. is the only one care about. Jesus reminds us that there is no person on earth we do not have some degree of responsibility for. At the same time, there are times to focus our love and attention on different people in different circumstances.
The life of the disciple is lived in many circles, and our focus must be nimble, focusing on different responsibilities for different situations. Sometimes, you must even draw a circle around your self alone, so that you can love and care for your own person.
That magic chalk in your hand is the chalk of discernment, helping you make decisions and set boundaries. Use it as often as you need.
This is one rare instance where your faith will take you farther
by going around in circles.
Have a good week,
Rev. Mitch Todd
Prayer for Reflection
Mitch has a new book available: https://weeklydevotion.com/2021/11/23/new-in-circles/
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