Circles

“Circles” painting by Rory Martindale in response to Sunday’s sermon, Fingerpaint on iPad

Circles
Pentecost Sunday, 2017
Jennifer Garrison Brownell

 

Let’s make a big circle
Lets make it big enough for everyone
who was sitting down that morning before 9:00
not to new wine, but to a bowl of Wheaties, or whatever they ate for breakfast in those confusing days after Jesus had finally left them for good. Let that circle swirl and spiral across time and space so that it’s big enough to wrap in everyone who was visiting Jerusalem that day –
true believers and serious doubters
and tourists looking for some excitement
and pickpockets looking for some tourists.

Let’s make a circle big enough to include people who are long gone
–those Parthians, Medes, Eliamites and Mesopotamians, and Judeans, residents of Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygians and Pamphylians–
Whose languages, buildings and breakfast cereals
were centuries dead even when this story was brand new.

Let’s make a big circle
Let’s make it big enough for everyone in every time of life.
Let’s make it big enough for very new babies and very old elders.
Let’s make it big enough for the men and the women and the gender-expansive who are in the middle of life, working, building, creating, caring for those babies and those elders.
Let’s make it big enough for people
who can’t work,
who want work,
who work too much,
who barely scrape by,
who are domiciled in skyscrapers.
Let’s make it big enough for those people graduating from school and commencing all of life’s hope, all of life’s promise.
Let’s make it big enough for those whose school days are behind them, yet who wake into each new day with curiosity and delight, asking “What do you have to teach me today, Lord?”

Let’s make a big circle.
Let’s make it big enough for the generations that crowd before, and the generations that will march on after.
Let’s make it big enough for those whose eyes are closed at last in rest after long, and satisfying life.
Let’s make it big enough for those who are taken too soon by disease or violence.
Let’s make it big enough for Muslim children fleeing Syria and Christian adults riding a bus in Egypt and teenagers of all races dancing in England, and brave, brave men riding a train in Portland, Oregon.
Let’s make it big enough for those whose lives are yet to come, for the grandchildren of our grandchildren’s grandchildren.

Let’s make a big circle.
Let’s make it big enough for brown skinned people and black skinned people and white skinned people.
Let’s make it big enough for queer people and straight people and people who fall somewhere in between.
Let’s big enough for divorced people, and married people, and single people, and people who fall somewhere in between.
Let’s make it big enough for religious people we don’t understand and religious people we think we understand only too well.
Let’s make it big enough for boundary crossers, border crossers, immigrants and refugees. And lets never call anyone, anywhere, ever illegal,
because, friends, there is no such thing as an illegal person,
when the circle is big enough.

Let’s make a big circle.
Let’s make it big enough for those we love and those we hate.
Let’s make it so big that those we love prosper, and those we cannot love prosper, too.
Let’s make a circle big enough and wide enough and abundant enough that scarcity and fear and hate are what is squeezed out, but not people, never, never, never God’s children.
Let’s make a big circle where every single every living created thing knows that we are one family,
because in this big circle,
all living beings share the same first name
and that name is beloved.

Let’s make a big circle.
Let’s make it big enough for the stars that shine at night
and the blade of grass that pokes its head up through concrete.
Let’s make it big enough for creatures of the sky – the bald eagles and the crows that chase them, and the hummers at your feeder.
Let’s make that circle big enough for the creatures of the sea –the whale and the salmon and those mysterious creatures down below where it is too dark and cold for life and somehow life thrives.
Let’s make that circle big enough for grizzly bears and anacondas and termites.
Let’s make that circle big enough for seal pups and kittens with big eyes and babies in nests, their beaks reaching for the worm.
Let’s make that circle big enough for artic ice floes and tropical banyan trees and purple mountain majesties and
the sand you just found in your sneakers from
last summer’s trip to the beach.

Let’s make a big circle around this table. The table of justice, the table of plenty, the table of forgiveness. Let’s look around the circle, into the full, shining eyes of the ones who share this meal with us, today, right now. Let’s eat the bread that is one body together, and let’s drink the cup that means forgiveness for everyone, even that person we really, truly cannot stand. Let’s know that the circle is big enough that one and big enough for me and for you.

Let’s make a big circle.
Let’s know that we cannot, can never ever make this circle by
our own desire, our own cleverness, our own hard work.
Let’s look! Let us see the Holy Spirit dancing above us, each one of us, right here and now.
Like flames, like wind, and like birds fluttering over and around and through and in us.
Let’s make a big circle.
Just like that first day, so long ago, when that frightened and grieving little group of disciples, gathered in the upper room, mourning their lost friend Jesus. Those few, very few, who thought they were making a sad little circle, just for them.

Let’s make a big circle because THAT day, and every day since, the Holy Spirit has had other plans. Oh yes, she breathes, let’s make a big big big circle.

Amen.

Comments are closed