God is not an elusive character leaving clues in some evil-genius plot to confound the brilliant detectives of the world. You do not have to be a spiritual Sherlock Holmes to find God. But you’ll have a better go of it when you join together with others. Finding God works best in community—that’s why making a church that is ready to move with what is next is so important. God wants to use the church to reveal to everyone the eternity available to humanity now. In Circle of Hope, we want to be the presence of that future. This requires discernment. There is no one-size-fits-all, right way to be the church, because there are many places and many times in which we need to be the church. WHERE Circle of Hope as the church has not changed too much: we are still mostly in the Delaware River Watershed in and around the Philly Region, but WHEN we as an actual circle of hope seems to be changing quite rapidly.
The pandemic has changed a lot of things and who knows how correct all the prognosticators of “the new normal” really are. Right now, Circle of Hope is meeting mostly online. Our Sunday meetings at 5 pm are gathering people from all across our four congregations (and many more from around the country too) in a YouTube live event. Our cells are using various methods like Zoom to relate to each other and Jesus in a more intimate dialogue. God seems to be able to use this environment, even if it is foreign territory for many of us, and even though many of us are way past Zoomed-out. But what is next? What is God calling us to? Yes, God calls us to do specific things. We can listen for what they are for us and for now, together.
Here’s a metaphor to inspire you (I hope). I just got back from the park around the corner from my house. This spring it has been our family ritual to take walks there to look for baby turtles. We have already found three. I think those are pretty good results. It’s been a couple of weeks since we found any though. Is the hatching season over? We’re not sure, so we mosey through the grass scanning between the blades for tiny greenish brown shells. I can only find walnut shells so far. This is a metaphor, keep walking with me.
The park is about the size of a few football fields. Imagine if everyone from Circle of Hope (and that could totally be you—our welcome is wide) were together in my little park looking for turtles. With just my wife and me and our fairly attention-less boys, we have already found three turtles in this park. Imagine how many turtles we would find if we all worked together. Each of us would probably only need to scour a few square feet and we would have covered the whole park in a moment.
Join with us at circleofhope.net/discernment. Develop your personal connection to what God is doing in your life in the Spiritual Wayfinding videos and see how you can get involved with a cell to ask these questions in community. It is an open process. You are allowed in. In fact, we need you in, because even though the park isn’t that big, those turtles are so tiny!
So here’s the metaphor—How do we look for God together? How do we discern what is next for Circle of Hope and for the Church at large in this uncertain moment in history? We fan out and get as many people involved as possible. There are turtles in the grass! We have seen them. God is present in our park, in our lives, in our church, in our region. What is God doing? How do we get involved? Together, we are confident we can know some answers to these questions.