Draw the Circle Wide

The blog has been rather quiet lately since I have been back in Scotland and enjoying reconnecting with family, not least my wonderful 7-month-old grandson Angus. At the same time, thanks to the wonders of online learning, I have been able to continue teaching my class in Zomba who are just coming to the end of the first Semester.

I also continue my work with the World Council of Churches, now focussing on preparations for the next WCC Assembly in Karlsruhe, originally scheduled for this year but, because of the pandemic, now postponed to September 2022. Its theme remains the same: “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and peace.”

The ecumenical movement has often been understood as being about achieving greater church unity or at least better relations among churches. But those who got involved in working for church unity often found that they could not stop there. The dynamic led them to go further and work for a unity that would embrace all of humanity and indeed “the whole inhabited earth.”

This wider vision seems especially relevant today. The human community is divided and fragmented by a global economy that enriches the few and impoverishes the many while divisive and xenophobic politics hold sway. Relations between different religious communities too often are flashpoints for conflict when they know their calling is to work together for peace. Then there is the matter of rebuilding after the pandemic. And the climate emergency calls for clear focus and united action on a scale never seen before. 

If ever there was time for a wide-ranging and far-seeing ecumenical vision, it must be now. Hopefully the Assembly can articulate a compelling vision to meet the extraordinary challenges of our time. Gordon Light once captured in song the spirit that is called for:

Let our hearts touch far horizons, so encompass great and small;

Let our loving know no borders, faithful to God’s call.

Draw the circle wide, draw it wider still.

Let this be our song: no one stands alone,

Standing side by side. Draw the circle wide.

Let the dreams we dream be larger than we’ve ever dreamed before;

Let the dream of Christ be in us, open every door.

Draw the circle wide, draw it wider still.

Let this be our song: no one stands alone,

Standing side by side. Draw the circle wide.

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