The twentysomething church: Circle of Hope

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Twenty years old! It does not seem possible, especially if you just showed up in Circle of Hope last week! What are we to you, you person who just showed some love? Are we like a well-aged wine you just opened?  A great old song that was just updated for your genre? A miracle you experienced when you thought they didn’t happen anymore? A new friend who feels like you’ve known them your whole life? People say such things.

To me, we are like Nathanael. I see us like the guy Jesus saw under the fig tree in Bethsaida. I think he was a guy, about as old as our church, maybe, a twentysomething who was wondering what was going on with the world, the oppressive government, his out-of-touch parents, his no-future job, the weird guy from the desert, John the Baptist, and his own soul, which he was thinking about taking seriously. We are a twentysomething church and often act like all the twentysomethings we know: susceptible, nervous, energetic, risky, learning like crazy, sometimes a little crazy, unfinished, just getting started. I could go on.

Nathanael under the fig tree by my man, James Tissot.

But the way we are like Nat (name too long to type) is how we really like how Jesus SEES us. Nat’s friend Philip told him he’d found the Messiah and he should “Come and see.” When he got to Jesus, the Lord told him “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nat worshiped him. He was seen; he was known. This is a big deal for people who are bits of data to their leaders and fodder for the big institutions that run them.

Jesus responds to his worship with, “You haven’t seen anything yet!” (essentially). “If you liked the miracle of how I knew you, loved you, looked for you before you knew me, then you will really like the miracle of me revealed in all my glory, when the whole world discovers that God knows their every suffering, loves them with a self-giving love, and is looking for them to claim their rights as the children of God in the restored kingdom I’m giving to you!”

To me, we are like THAT Nat to whom Jesus is unfolding the secrets of eternity. We like how Jesus found us. And we are just getting started on what the Lord is going to reveal next. We haven’t exactly been hanging out under a fig tree for twenty years, but it is like we have been building toward this moment our whole lives.

Just thinking about the Grill and Chill today I worship Jesus for how he found us and built us together into a splendid piece of alternativity. Jesus keeps finding people and they keep finding themselves in him.

But Jesus told me again this morning, “You haven’t seen anything yet!” In this wild era, growing megalopolis, diversifying city Circle of Hope has an important role to play that is worth our effort, our love and our resources. The Map we will consider today is kind of a taste of new wine, the first bars of a new song being written, the next example of the miracle that began us – and it didn’t even try to express all we have become! I’m with Nat, “You ARE the Son of God” Jesus!

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