Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Drawing Circles

Daily Gratitude Year 3-Day 189: Today...I am grateful for circles that draw people in instead of shutting them out.
Edwin Markham (poet and scholar, 1852-1940) wrote this great poem:
He drew a circle that shut me out--
Heretic, a rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!
Short and sweet but full of "meat" to chew on.
I Corinthians 13:8 in many translations: Charity never faileth. (KJV) Love never fails.(NIV) Love never ends.(ESV) So...to paraphrase...LOVE ALWAYS WINS!
We celebrate the anniversary of our marriage this weekend. I have always loved the senior couples interviewed in the classic movie "When Harry Met Sally" in 1989. We had only been married a couple of years. That movie struck a chord that resonated deep with me. I remember thinking, "I want to look like that when we are in our 80's."
Every girl wants and hopes to be a beautiful bride. Still...is just a day. It is a big day, full of promise and a new beginning...in a "deal sealed" before God...but a marriage is every day after the wedding day! It is not without effort.
This image crossed my path...and for days it haunted me...so I dug for "the rest of the story" (I grew up on Paul Harvey):
This is a photograph of the graves of a Catholic woman and her Protestant husband in Limburg (Netherlands). They were not allowed to be buried together. In the Protestant part of this cemetery, J.W.C van Gorcum, colonel of the Dutch Cavalry and militia commissioner in Limburg, is buried. His wife, Lady J.C.P.H van Aefferden, is buried in the Catholic part.
They were married in 1842, the lady was 22 and the colonel was 33, but he was a protestant and didn't belong to the nobility.This caused quite a commotion in Roermond. He was a commoner and a soldier...and she was a lady. But, love always wins.
They loved and cherished each other for 38 years. When the colonel died in 1880, he was buried in the protestant part of the cemetery against the wall. His wife died in 1888. She chose not to be buried in the family tomb. Her choice...the loving choice...simply takes my breath away...and is beautifully captured in this poignant and powerful image.
With the wall of exclusion between them... she chose her grave as close as she could get to husband on her Catholic side. Two clasped hands connect the graves across the wall. Again...love always wins! ( Wendy Williams Vastine...if you could get this on your "Things to photograph before we leave Europe." list, I would be forever grateful.)
The imagery here is so powerful. What circles do we draw and what walls do we build high that keep people out? What circles do we create that draw people in? It is all about choice.
God spoke to Moses in the form of the 10 Commandments (not suggestions) and said: "Love me." (refer to the #1-4) and "Love each other."(#6-10) He does not change.
So...when God took human form, as Jesus, the message was the same. Jewish leaders... threatened by Jesus... were looking for a way to draw a circle that kept him out of the temple and from influencing "their people"... get him in trouble...and maybe even stoned to death. They were looking to "catch him" in something blasphemous. They failed.
Matthew 22: 34-40 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
What is our part? 2 Timothy 2:15:
"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth."
So...at the end our days on this earth ..when we stand before God, will he say... "Lucy, you have some 'splainin' to do!" (probably not in the voice of Desi Arnez" or will he say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You finished the race.Welcome home."?
"Rightly handling the word of the truth" is our instruction and our responsibility. How do we test it? First, we have to know The Word. Then, we might try this simple test based on Jesus response to the religious leaders.
What if we asked these two questions:
Does it help, teach or seek to help us "love God more"?
Does it help us to serve, reach, teach and "love our neighbor" more?
I know I return to this often, because for me... it has been this amazing revelation... that connects the Old Testament and the New Testament and it seems all the puzzle pieces keep falling into place. It is exciting! I heard a quote years ago that says, "The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed. The New Testament is the Old Testament revealed." As I flip back and forth from Old to New...the wonder and amazement grows. His "Master Plan" is a "Masterpiece"!
"But Love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle that took him in!" Isn't that what Jesus did? The Samaritan woman at the well...the hated Tax Collector...the Loud mouth fishermen...the prostitute with the demon...the heady physician...the "Sons of Thunder"...the bleeding woman... the lepers...the children...the soldier who came to arrest him received a healing...and the thief on the cross.
What walls do we build that keep people out? Are all truly welcome "at the Lord's table" or in "His house"? I am reminded that Jesus washed Judas' feet and offered him bread and wine from the same cup ...just like the other eleven.
What did Jesus mean when he said in Mark 3:24-25 " If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand."? What if the "body of Christ" stood hand in hand and drew a circle that loved others in...into relationship? Love is not without sacrifice...and Jesus paid the ultimate price...tearing down the walls that once divided Jew and Gentile to make them one. Then, he offered this simple instruction "Go and make 'disciples' of every nation."
Today...I am grateful for circles that draw people in instead of shutting them out. I am grateful for this amazing picture that reminds me that "Love always wins."

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