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On the dilemma of self-reference (or #WhyILoveCircleOfHope)
A few people have told me recently that they thought I was being too self-referential. That I was committed to talking more about the “form” rather than the “content.” Put another way, that I was talking more about Circle of Hope than the Gospel. Is that true? You may want to agree or disagree with that.
Some of you may know this, but I have a hard time separating and compartmentalizing things like that. We are the church; we are the body of Christ. The method is in the medium. You are both Christ's container and His content. Everything matters. Life in Christ is one whole cloth, after all. And as we approach Advent, it’s clear to me that the form and the content are indeed the same thing, in many respects. The Incarnation of Jesus represents this very idea; further, the incarnation of Jesus in the Body of Christ does too. Our expression of it in Circle of Hope is the best way I have to do it.
Allow me now to contradict what I have just been saying. So often, the form of something, its structure, is much more distracting than the actual point of it. Packaging matters. Yes, your sense of style can be distracting and self-centered. We can have an argument all day about how something is presented, and I think we should be very conscious of that, but if the presentation does not meet our superficial standards, I hope you see beyond its form and see something more. My presentation, my form won’t be perfect, but I hope it is good enough. In other words, the crimping on the pie might not be perfect, but I swear the filling is pretty sweet. (Today it's sweet potato and pecan, for the record.)
These conversations started when we showed videos at our Sunday meetings and on social media about why people loved the church. It was a way of getting the word out there and helping people share their story. I still think Circle of Hope is one of the best kept secrets in Philadelphia and I want the region to know about it. These videos are not advertisements, they are personal stories. They are as much about the people in them as they are about Circle of Hope.
The form may feel a little goofy, the production flawed (I just used my phone after all), but the stories and people are real, and so is God moving in them. I hope you receive these then with love and they inspire you to tell your story. Or perhaps they simply inspire you to find our what your story is or what it. could be. So, if I haven’t convinced you yet, maybe they will, here are the five short videos we recorded about why my friends love Circle of Hope.