I asked God, “Does anyone want to do this in South Jersey?”
I breathed deep and felt the room beyond my closed eyelids expand with my diaphragm. The people seated in a circle with me withdrew. In my mind’s eye, the distance grew between me and Kim who sat cross legged on the couch across the rug from me. Like a balloon filling with air, like an eternally exploding universe, like rising dough—the space between us got bigger—not in an isolating way, not in an outstretched hand and slow motion “noooo”, but in a long sigh of contentment as we became supple clay in the presence of the Holy Spirit. I got bigger too as I breathed deep again. My closed eyes saw my hands had inflated too. They were Diego Rivera paintings- comically thick and stubby. It was as if my cells were making room for God. I breathed again, spread wide and open to hear the “yes.”
Bryce led us to ask God our question again. “Does anyone want to do this in South Jersey? Does anyone want to plant and multiply cell groups that include new people in circles like this one where God stretches us out and pours himself in with sweet soul honey that makes your lips curl as you breathe love deep, drink love down and melt into it a little more each time?”
The answer was still yes.
A third time, Brother Bryce, instructed us to ask God our question. A third time I asked, “Does anyone want to do this in South Jersey?” … and I hesitantly, meekly added a quiet “with me?” A third time, “Yes.”
It was a deep down in between my cells affirmative. A beautiful exercise from Bryce led me down into a sorely needed confidence as I teeter on the rim of a new canyon adventure, crossing borders and finding fresh places for the Spirit to move. The movement started its freshening in me, splashing through the narrows of my heart in that tiny moment of perception in a circle with the partners I already have. Their yes readied the next. Their dedicated leadership is a foundational yes for our cell movement, which stands to expand this year as we as a Circle of Hope are entering our Second Act as a church. Bryce, Kim, Nate, Joel, Sara and Donna. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.
Many of them joined in the raucous chorus of yes we celebrated at the Love Feast a few weeks ago. Again I was asking the questions, this time after the words of Brother Paul in Philippians 2.
“Do we have any encouragement from being united with Christ?” I asked.
“Yes, we are encouraged” the reply was a boom that shook my heart.
“Any comfort from his love?” I asked them
“Yes, we are comforted” even more joined in with emphatic enthusiasm.
“Any common sharing in the Spirit, any tenderness and compassion?” third ask.
“Yes, and yes, and yes” 200 or more sang three yeses back.
Over the past couple of weeks I have been getting a lot of yeses from partners new and old. I’m running around the camp finding out for sure who is with me and I am encouraged. The answer is yes! People aren’t just saying yes to me, though it does feel good on a personal level to receive that yes. They are saying yes to Jesus and his mission here. There are people we don’t even know yet who will say yes if we ask them.
“Do you want to do this? Do you want to create an environment where people can connect with God and act for redemption.? Do you want to be an opportunity to explore and express God’s love? Do you want to be a circle of Hope?”
And God says to their yes, “But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Corinthians 1:18-22)