Outwitted by Edwin Markham
He drew a circle that shut me out: heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
Love and I had the wit to win. We drew a circle that took him in.
Edwin Markham grew up in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); our denomination was his spiritual home. Markham was a one of our nation’s most beloved poets, corresponding with presidents and other notables. He pursued higher education and became a teacher, both highly valued by our “movement”.
This concise poem is a full expression of Disciples theology: inclusion and belonging. The Table of Christ is a place of belonging. We believe Christ is the host and we are the servers. We set the Table, but Jesus makes the invitation, to everyone. There are no conditions.
Markham very simply expresses what is at the heart of our community of belonging at First Christian Church Pomona. While we may not always live it out fully, we are quick to correct and remember that the circle of Christ is inclusive, not exclusive.
Other Christian communities are very clear about who is in and who is out. There are conditions individuals must meet to participate. Maybe this provides some certainty to people who think they need certainty. Jesus valued compassion above certainty. Certainty isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Certainty usually closes ears to listening and hearts to perceiving.
We may be accused of being sloppy, letting anyone come to the Table, but after all , it’s really not our Table to begin with. We err on the side of grace and hospitality. I’m glad for the economy of words with which Markham writes; makes it easier to remember, like a verse of scripture.
That last line is worth memorizing: Love and I had the wit to win. We drew a circle that took him in. What circles is Christ helping you draw this week?