I walked down the street to the Church of the Advocate to cast my ballot yesterday morning. It’s something of a tradition since my neighbor Debbie volunteers each Election Day. Talking to her is my favorite part of the experience. Voting for the latest talking head? Not so much. The U.S. American democratic system is so corporately bought out, it feels like a shame to even participate. I think most U.S. Americans exhibit that kind of indifference because they feel powerless to change anything at all.
I logged onto Facebook when I got home and Facebook assaulted me with more of the same. This time Facebook was asking me to take a survey regarding its new Messenger app that it has incessantly begged its users to download. It kept wondering whether the way I could message on the phone helped me have better relationships. It wanted to know if the app had improved my connection with others. I’m afraid it has been a useful tool, but it is hardly deepening. The final question blew my mind, though: the social media website asked me if I thought it cared about me.
I never thought a website could care about me. I did not think a corporation even had that ability. I’m way too flesh-to-flesh, person-to-person to think that an interface can actually interact with me. I felt so distant when it asked me that. The same way I felt when I just pressed a button behind a booth.
I think people sometimes believe that God is that distant too, because their experience with the powerful among us is similar. But Jesus shows us something else. He came down to us in the form of a person so that we could relate, face-to-face. His thirty-odd years of flesh-to-flesh connection has made a revolutionary impact on the entire world. His heart-to-heart connection through his resurrection has given all the chance at being saved! I want to keep channeling that fleshiness in the whole Philadelphia region.
The idea of polling an audience or an electorate to find out what to do or how to lead them is noble. But I’m thankful that, in Circle of Hope, it isn’t “headquarters” that facilitates these kinds of things, but our community that does. We have been engaging in a lot of dialogue lately, pondering what to do next in our church. You can be a part of that process. There are many exciting possibilities people are coming up with. A new thrift store in North Philly? A new building for Broad & Dauphin? A new congregation? A radical way of sharing our resources?
Our cells all discerned together what has been good and what could be even better. Then we met again to listen to the Spirit and one another over meals. We had a very inclusionary process that engaged hundreds of people, not in a series of false choices or through an artificial interface, but through real dialogue and engagement.
This is so starkly different to me than my painful experience of voting and surveying was, that I have to share it with you. The world needs an incarnational community and an incarnational savior and I think we have a great way to express it in Circle of Hope.
I’m glad that, in Jesus, I don’t have to cast a vote and hope for the right turn out. Or that I have him questioning whether or not I know he cares for me. He doesn’t coerce me into doing something. And it helps me feel included even when I feel disillusioned. He doesn’t shame me if I don’t participate. But he continues to beckons me.
I want you to be a part of that. Let’s get over our generations’ collective disillusionment and how we have been oppressed and try to follow Jesus, who really cares about us individually and who has made his dwelling among us.