Hymn #275 in Celebrating Grace Hymnal — “Who Is My Mother, Who Is My Brother”
Differently abled, differently labeled
widen the circle round Jesus Christ;
Crutches and stigmas, cultures’ enigmas
all come together round Jesus Christ.
Love will relate us—color or status
can’t segregate us, round Jesus Christ:
Family failings, human derailings—all are
accepted, round Jesus Christ.
“Us four, no more.” Sometimes, in certain circumstances, we believers can become experts at ‘narrowing the circle’. Whether we plan it that way, by setting up complicated orthodoxies and religious systems; or whether it does a slow creep, a score of small fissures over what feels comfortable or easy—our human gathering tendency seems to be to draw the borders in tightly. Maybe we do it for protection, some leftover prehistoric preservationist impulse; maybe out of fear of the ‘other’ and the adaptation they might require of our comfortable lives. Has it always been this way? Human nature being what it is, probably so. Was the history of religious institution destined to be this way forever?
Probably so. Until into the circle stepped a most unusual man, who crashed every boundary like the world’s best Red Rover player. Race? Crash. Status? Crash. Culture? Crash. Historic prejudice? Crash. Stigma? Crash.
The crashing presence of Jesus changes things. The place will be crawling with failures, Plan Bs, and misfits. Thank God, we’ll all fit right in… around Jesus’ table.