Alongside the Christmas carols going around in my head is another song,

Draw the circle wide. 

No one stands alone, we’ll stand side by side. 

Draw the circle wide; draw it wider still. 

Let this be our song! 

These words by Gordon Light invite us to broaden our circle of care and concern. If we imagine our relationships as a series of concentric circles, we usually place our concern for our own well-being at the centre. In the next circle are our close family and friends. The next circle might include our work colleagues, sports or service club, or church and neighbourhood. In the outermost circles we might put our city, country and all other human beings. Each of us has reasons to draw the circle of our attention narrower. It is not easy to bring more people into our circle of care because it means that we become vulnerable and risk heartache and disappointment.

The Christian tradition teaches that God—in risk-taking vulnerable love—spread wide the circle of peace and salvation through the coming of Christ into the world. I am glad that you and I are included in God’s embrace.

Fischer Price Nativity scene

Often, it is children who have a better grasp of the meaning of these wonderful mysteries.

There is a story of three-year old child who listened and watched as his parents brought out their nativity scene: Here is Mary, the mother. Here is Joseph, and here is baby Jesus. Here are kings bringing their gifts. Here is the shepherd and the lamb. Here is the donkey and there is the cow. Having completed the scene the parents moved on to other Christmas preparations.

The next day, the parents noticed a striking change in the nativity scene. Their three-year old had set all his favourite figures into the nativity scene. Alongside the shepherds and kings were Minions and dinosaurs, bears and Donald Duck, Luke Skywalker and Thomas the Tank Engine. They were all included by the child. The circle was spread wide, wider.

 

(This post was originally published in “The Minister’s Minute” column in the South Delta Optimist on December 18, 2015)