top of page

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity B~ "Spin the Globe" ~ Susan McGurgan, D.Min.





When the brutal Oklahoma summers

became too hot to ride bikes,

too hot

to play World Series Whiffle Ball

(Cards vs. Yankees)  

and the sidewalk shimmered

with rising heat waves,

my brother and I

sometimes played a game

we called, “Spin the Globe.”

 

The rules were simple,

and the game—

virtually un-winnable.

We sat in front of the window fan,

spun the globe,  

laid a finger on a random spot,

and the other player

had three chances to guess the city.   

 

We could usually narrow it down

to a continent,

but the only real winners in this game

were our Geography grades

at General Douglas MacArthur Elementary.  

 

“Spin the Globe”

led to a life-long love

of maps,

atlases,

globes,

National Geographic,

and the lure of distant lands

bearing exotic names.   

 

And yet,

Every map,

Every atlas,

Every globe

came equipped with boundary lines;

clearly delineated edges

that marked the space between

one nation

and the next;

between one people

and another.   

 

Perhaps there is something deep within us,

something primal and instinctive,

that is drawn to demarcation lines,

borders,

boundaries.

 

We are, after all,

heirs of people who constructed

deep moats,

fortified cities,

stout gates,

watch towers,

defensive walls,

stone parapets.    

 

We are here.

Not there. 

We are this people,

living in the state with the squiggly border,

not that people,

whose border is a river.    

 

But as I got older,

I began to wonder…

Why?

Why do we love a good fence?

A solid wall?

Clear boundary markers?  

 

Is it fear?

Ego?

Survival instinct?

Collective atavistic memories

of danger and risk?

Whatever our motives,

we seem to have a default setting

designed to keep some people

in

and other people

out.

We embrace as normative

the practice of marking territory

and nailing up physical

and virtual,

“No Trespassing” signs.


We love both the idea

and the reality of a perimeter—

a line

drawn in the sand that says,

“This far, but no farther,”

“My space, not yours.”

“These people, not those.”

Spin the Globe

and wherever you land,

there is a neatly drawn border

not too far away.  


Despite the physical labor involved,

mapping boundaries

and constructing barriers

is not really a surveying task

or an engineering feat.

It is a political, military, and social act—

an act that speaks of power,

and access,

and control.

Who sets up the border crossing;  

Who builds the wall;  

Who holds keys to unlock the gate;

Who guards the tower and fills the moat;

Who is left standing outside?  

 

These lines of demarcation

establish membership.

Determine value.

Weigh importance.

Amplify or silence voices.

Make people visible or invisible.

 

Browse any website that sells fences,

and you will wonder

how you ever survived without one.

According to marketing brochures,

a good fence

offers security and protection

marks boundaries

defines property

maintains privacy

hides unpleasant views

increases property value

creates a barrier

from invasive plants, animals, and people.

Separates you from the outside world

 

A good fence holds something good

in

and keeps something bad

out.

As the poet Robert Frost said,

“Good fences make good neighbors.”

And that is definitely true

when your neighbor’s hobbies include

cultivating poison ivy and breeding attack dogs.


But the problem with boundaries,

and barriers,

and moats,

and walls,

and perimeters,

lines on maps,  

and our love for holding things in

and keeping things out,

comes

when we carry those fences around with us--

when we sling them over our shoulder,

pack them along with our lunch,

load them in the back of the truck,

and tuck them safely into our pocket…

just in case.

Just in case we encounter something ugly

Or different

Or run into someone

who doesn’t belong.

 

The trouble with circles drawn in the sand

and inner sanctums

and barriers to invasive plants and people

comes when we place our need for a safe perimeter

ahead of God’s inclusive embrace.

 

Go and make disciples of all nations.

 

Discipleship is not meant to be

a private enclave.

The job description, “Christian”

does not include erecting walls

and establishing barricades to separate

us

from

them.

It does not involve keeping guard on the border,

or viewing Jesus

through the bars of a gated community.

It does not mean that we get to select,

from a carefully curated list,

the nations and people with whom we will

share the Good News

and the ones we will ignore and avoid.  

 

Go and Make Disciples of all Nations.


Our call to faith

is not an invitation of personal privilege

or a first-class ticket

to safety and protection.

Rather,

the command,

“Go, make disciples of all nations”

invites us to Spin the Globe,

point a finger,

and view that corner of the world

through the eyes and heart of Jesus.

 

The Great Commission impels us out

into a crowded and unsettling world

where outsiders reign

and expectations are overturned.

In this world, sinners and enemies

dine at the head of the table,

the lowly are lifted up,

and the powerful

need to watch their crowns.


In this world,

God invites us to see

the destruction of guard towers

and the dismantling of walls  

as a religious act of hope and liberation.


When we look at a map,

we see dark lines,  

carefully dividing God’s creation

into distinct and separate spaces.

Brazil is marked in yellow,

Argentina pink,

Uruguay purple.

 

Yet,

this is not what God sees.

We see sharp lines

where God sees opportunity.

We see boundaries

where God sees blessing.   

We see travel advisories,  

where God sees beloved people.  

 

The spirit of our triune God—

the God whose very being is “relationship”

the Creator, Spirit, Embodied Word—

is not poured out upon one people,

one place,

one nation.

 

The God who is both Three and One

invites us to see that

we are called to imitate Him

by forming creative,

Spirit-filled,

Embodied relationships and communities,

reaching across dotted lines,

boundaries,

and borders.   

We cannot accept Christ

without also accepting each other.

We cannot love God

without also loving each other.

 

Discipleship is not limited to an inner circle

or a corps of elite.

The Spirit of God

is not limited

to people who look and sound like us.

The spirit of God does not reside solely

in our sanctuaries,

no matter how beautiful,

or on our own communities,

no matter how comfortable.  

We cannot remain seated

in our pews

or linger forever in Adoration.

At the end of mass,

we are told in no uncertain terms,

“Go. The Mass is ended.”


Over the years,

we have sometimes mistaken

the building or the institution

for the mission.   

But the Church does not “have a mission”

as much as,

the Mission of Christ has a Church.

Eucharist is our rocket fuel,

launching us into that Mission.   

 

The spirit of God

blows where it will,

unbound by our boundaries,

empowering, expanding, inviting--

giving voice to people

the world may have forgotten.

 

The question God asks of us is,

“Will you be there with me, too?”

 

Our instincts may whisper,

“Guard the gate.

“Establish a perimeter.”

“Draw the tent curtains closed.”

“Quick, erect a fence!”

But God will continue to re-draw maps,  

drain our moats,

tear down our walls,

call us to a more inclusive,

more open,

and yes,

riskier vision of discipleship

that sends us out into the world

to heal, teach, baptize and embrace.


Along the way, we might just discover

that the mightiest messages

come from the unlikeliest messengers—

and that the blessings from beyond the wall

are incomparable!

 

Spin the Globe.

Go and make disciples of all nations.

97 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page