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“He’s got the whole world in his hands” is one of the most well-known American spirituals from the African American spiritual tradition.

Well known, in part, because children have kept it ringing in Sunday school rooms across the country for decades. Although the hymn’s author is unknown, its message is familiar. God’s care is wrapped around this entire world in cosmic embrace. Each stanza of the song lifts specific parts of the world, human and non-human alike: brother, sister, little bitty baby, wind and rain. Calling out specific individuals, the author communicates God’s care for the particularities and for the uniqueness of Creation’s many members. The message echoes a truth repeated through the Psalms: that “The Lord Reigns”! over the Created world.

As Christians, we believe that God loves all and that God desires that all come to God in faith. It is in this spirit that Christians feel called to live their lives in ways that communicate this hymn’s truth: Christ’s universal love for this world in all of its diversity.

January 15 is World Religion Day.

Recognized by countries across the world, it is a day set apart to facilitate discussion between leaders from world religions and to encourage the importance of harmony across difference. It is rooted in the Bahá’í Faith, a Persian religion organized in the 1800s around the central ideas of unity of God, unity of religion, and unity of all mankind. Although Christians diverge from Baha’i’s in their belief that God through Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, Christians and Baha’i’s converge around the central ideas of World Religion Day. It is a day to celebrate the innate dignity of all human beings; to long for world peace in one accord; and to leverage commonalities to fight bigotry and hate.

In John 17:20–23, Jesus’ prayer includes the repeated request “that they may all be one.”

This entreaty is not limited to Christians, but, like the hymn, it reflects the hope that the whole world may be in the hands of God. This is Jesus’ longing that all of Creation be reconciled with one another and to God. Jesus brings to mind the final days, envisioned in the book of Isaiah. It is a time when God’s peace will finally reign. Lions and lambs, wolves and sheep will share a meal together at God’s table. Different members of Creation who were once at odds are now restored to one another. Christ’s unity now reigns such that the difference, diversity, and color of Creation are embraced in God’s care.

Menaul school students, faculty and administration are a fitting image of Creation’s vast diversity.

Representing many different traditions, countries, and religions, students from nations across the world converge at Menaul to learn and live. In doing so, Menaul represents a microcosm of God’s beauteous and diverse world. On this World Religion Day, may Menaul School live into Jesus’ prayer that we “may all be one.” As a diverse community of students, teachers, administration, parents, alumni, and friends, may Menaul School be a place where we represent to the world a small picture of God’s call for unity. And in doing so, may we express the affirmation that, indeed, “God’s got the whole world in his hands.”

Rev. Hannah has her Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and is working on a PhD in Theology at the University of Toronto.

Her last Chaplain Update can be read here.

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