My cell is about to multiply and we’re making the new teams that will lead the two cells that come out of the old one. We’re so into the organic metaphor that we call the leadership team of the cell the nucleus. There’s a leader, an apprentice leader and a host. Each person has an important role to play but the relationships within the team are probably even more important than the functions of each player. The love at the center of the cell is what holds it together.
But it’s not like me and my new team have known each other forever. This love did not grow completely organically for the normal reasons that human relationships grow and develop. We are choosing to love each other. It’s fairly artificial and could pretty easily be phony if Jesus weren’t at the center too.
The nucleus of the universe, so to speak is God and even within God’s self there is a loving community. Theologians call it the immanent trinity–that which is happening within God’s self. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit express God’s relational nature. It’s an incredible presumption but it seems like a good way to understand the way God reveals God’s self to us in scripture. Not only do we relate to God in these three ways but the persons of the Trinity relate to one another. It’s the Divine Community. God doesn’t only relate; God is relating. God doesn’t only love; God is love (And John backs me up on that!)
A fancy word for how these paradox works is perichoresis. It’s a theological term that describe the mutual indwelling of each of the persons in the Trinity. They are separate persons but not in our modern individualistic sense. Their common eternal love binds them in such a way that they are one. Thus Jesus can be God and not God the Father.
They are separate but not separate. And they aren’t static. There is no space within God that is owned by one person autonomously. Jurgen Moltmann describes perichoresis as an eternal dance of love. Perichoresis is a compound word. Peri means “around” (think of the word perimeter). Choreia shares the a root with “choreography.” It means “to dance.” Taken together, the word literally means “to dance around.” The Divine Community is a dance. It’s not a thing or a group of things or people. It’s an action.
And for it to be any fun you have to get on the floor and dance. Our flash mob choreography in Circle of Hope is the Cell Multiplication plan. We form a nucleus that has our dancing God at the center of it. We can depend on the power of our ordinary human relating to bind a larger group together because God is in our relating. Often we start relating for the sole purpose of our common mission. It’s almost mechanical, like we’re just doing the practiced steps that we said we would do in our cell multiplication plan–like it’s a waltz and this is ballroom dance lessons, but soon we feel the music and really dance–God really happens–now we’re really dancing.
I’m already sorely missing my cell as it is now for a couple more weeks, especially my nucleus, Pat and Jenny. I really do love them, and we’ve only been leading a cell together for 5 months. But that’s how it is with God. I’m grateful for partners like them and the rest of my cell. I’m excited to start the dance all over again with my new teammates, Nicole and Lauren, and confident that God will expand our community as a never ending source of love between us.