In Circle of Hope we say Jesus is best revealed incarnationally- Here’s a little newspaper of how that worked out for me this past week (spoiler- it did!)
Monday Afternoon– When the Compassion Core Team heard about the #ReclaimMLK march happening in Philadelphia they mobilized 200 people from Circle of Hope to show up and join the thousands who marched for fully funded, democratically controlled schools; $15/hr minimum wage and the right to form unions; and a fully empowered, independent police review board and an end to “Stop and Frisk.” We were acting to resist and empower. We were calling out our national sin of racism on the prophet Martin’s day. Circle of Hope has resistance and restoration at the heart of our mission and our peeps responded to the call. It was a joy to be with so many of my comrades. Let’s keep marching. Jesus is with us.
Monday Night– We gathered to approve our plan for the first year of our “Second Act.” Afterward, the coordinators of Circle of Hope offered me the position as pastor at our congregation at Marlton and Crescent, right off of 130 near the old airport circle. The “interview” was more of a time for affirmation and exhortation. I was so grateful to be partnered with such an amazing group of people among whom speaking the truth in love is common place. They knew my number to 2 decimal places! They knew me for who I was, strengths and growing edges, and they desired with me the New Self I am becoming in Christ. I attribute this to years of loving each other but also to the discernment in the Spirit to which they had committed themselves. I was challenged and encouraged, and warned and loved.
Wednesday- On Wednesday morning i met with a cell leader at 7:00am in Old City (THAT”S RIGHT 7 AM!) We drank really good pour over coffee at Minagerie and dreamed about what was next for our mission in Collingswood, NJ; and we got to know each other a bit better–because we’re drawn together not by affinity or even proximity (he moved from far away to be with us), but by our mission and our unique expression of Jesus in the Philadelphia metro. He’s awesome. The bike ride was cold.
Thursday- My Cell group was meeting and my car ended up being a bus. Everyone piled in as we collected folks from around West and South Philly. It was a fun ride. One of our cell mates led us in considering Judas’ betrayal. Another worried about the curses he was reading about in Genesis and we encouraged him with the truth that Jesus has broken every curse. I have a note card in my pocket with a prayer request from another cell mate (we all swapped them as another cell mate led us to do) He’s traveling across the country and is thinking of his family here in Philly. He’s on my mind and on my heart.
Saturday- At the Love Feast this weekend, our uncommon culture of vulnerability and trust was demonstrated as 13 people joined in our covenant. At the heart of our church is a group of folks who have explicitly agreed to be a people. We are dedicated to our common mission and strategy and we hold the whole thing together by our bonds of love in Christ. At the risk of sounding grandiose, we hold the forces of evil at bay with our bonds of love too (check out the Book of the Dun Cow and the Book of Sorrows by Walter Wangerin for an awesome fictional exploration of this truth.) When the congregation sang together the room was brimming with the Holy Spirit. My heart was full, my ears were full, my chest was full. It was powerful.
Sunday Afternoon- My cell and I showed up to help our new friends from Cincinnati move into their new home. Even though most of the crew was too late to help– because the early birds like me were way too strong and fast :)– I was touched by my cell groups readiness to be there for these folks we barely knew. Seriously though, how much would it suck to move all your stuff by yourself- that does not happen in community- period.
Sunday Night- The Public Meeting, our weekly party, was full of love too. The band led us in singing songs, 6 out of 8 of which written by one of our musicians or one of our close allies. The creativity among us is evidence of Jesus’ Spirit enlivening us, as was the artful presentation and ways to engage that the team designed for us. Epaphroditus gave us reason to consider what really being uncomfortable might be like (Check out Philippians 4). And lots of connections were made with new and old friends.
This may be my longest post to date, which is evidence of how much God is doing among us–and this is just my experience! What’s yours?