Monthly Archives

May 2023

In Due Season: A Pride Month Reflection

Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. – Ephesians 6:9 (KJV)

Dear Gather Family and Friends,

Recently a longtime Gatherer and I were mulling over recent setbacks to women’s and LGBTQ rights—just two of so many issues that bear watching. In the current reactionary climate, when it seems like progress that took decades to achieve is being systematically undone, discouragement mounts easily. When you are, at heart, a good person a student of Jesus who intentionally lives out his teaching caring for the least in our society is how we show love for God, it’s hard to conceive how so many folks around us are consumed with denying rights of others and depriving people of what they need. And then there are the myths and lies and suspicions that fuel such uncaring and ungodly behavior. If it only seems to get worse, what’s the point?

Doing good is a long-term commitment. As the Early Church learned, as our LGBTQ ancestors also discovered, there is always a backlash when you lay claim to freedom. The first-century Jesus Movement not only faced opposition from without; they also faced opposition from within, as their synagogues excommunicated them, and their ranks often became infiltrated with false teachers and impostors. The same can be said of the LGBTQ movement. Of course, there was steep climb to overcome systemic homophobia in the larger society. But our struggles have also been complicated by inter-community conflicts and name-calling and hierarchies of privilege. It’s enough to make anyone in the fight real tired.

As we enter Pride Month, we should listen closely Paul’s advice to the Galatians. We simply can’t get tired. We can’t give up—not as members of Jesus’s movement or as people who support equality across-the-board. Setbacks are inevitable because the world is not easily amenable to profound change. But if we stay in the fight—if we “faint not”—we shall reap a harvest for our efforts. The progress we’ve made is the fruit of our ancestors’ tireless labor. We must offer the same witness to those who come after us.

Hang in there. Hold to hope at all costs. When you feel yourself getting weary, call a friend for encouragement. This month is about Pride going forward, not just Pride of our past. Let us not be weary in well-doing.

Peace, with much love—and Happy Anniversary!
Pastor Tim

Making a Material Difference in the World

Jesus touched their eyes and said, “It will happen for you just as you have believed.” Their eyes were opened. – Matthew 9:29-30


Dear Gatherers,


This Sunday marks four years of great joy and effort to forge an innovative faith community. We have much to be grateful and proud about. We started with nothing. No sponsoring denomination, no “seed money” sources, no people, no place. Most new church plants fold in their first two years. Yet here we are. Many churches, regardless of age, are struggling to rebound from the pandemic. We never stopped growing. For all the above, we say thanks be to God! And thanks to you!


It’s a lot of work, and there’s more to do. For Gather to come fully into its own, its basic needs must be met while new capabilities get added. We’ve always walked and talked as if our needs were met and, true to the promise, they have been. Now that we’re older and bigger, we’re getting bolder. More responsibility for what’s next. And while we pursue unconventional ministry and ecstatically inclusive community life, a settled space is necessary for this work. Equipment and greater support will enable us to connect with neighboring social justice and care communities to make a material difference in the world.


Perhaps one of Gather’s biggest weaknesses is that we make it look easier than it is. This will become more evident as we move ahead. When we’re in a secure space, monthly costs will increase significantly. We’ll be asking more time from more folks. Between now and Sunday—when we come together on YouTube to celebrate four years of building something new together—let’s commit a monthly pledge or tithe that will enable this work to last. The size of the gift is not the concern; dependable and regular giving is what we need right now.


God bless you all. We’re such old souls. Sometimes we forget we’re a young family. Our prophetic gifts alert us to where God’s leading; our practical insights remind us it will take some reliable time and money commitments to get there!


Peace, with much love—and Happy Anniversary!

Pastor Tim

Marking Time

Teach us to number our days so we can have a wise heart. – Psalm 90:12


Dear Gatherers,


In just a few days we will celebrate our fourth year together as a worshipping community.  By design, we launched in 2019 (see above) on Pentecost as our immediate confidence that the promise of Acts 2—“I will pour out my Spirit on all people”—mean ALL people. And that has been our driving conviction ever since.


On my fingers, I’ve counted about 150 people who’ve come through Gather since we began. Some stayed. Many lingered for a while and moved on. (Multicultural church planting from nothing is not for everyone.) Others dropped in, nodded with approval, and kept going. During the pandemic, we had a surge of people seeking community. When the world reopened, they returned to their home churches and regular haunts. That’s the way it works. It’s how it’s supposed to work, if we use the ministry of Jesus and the Early Church as our model.


For those of us who’ve stuck it out, though, we have been constantly amazed at the creative ways God has blessed. Times haven’t always been easy. But God never failed to provide. We’ve experienced growth in ways we never envisioned and discovered so much about what it means to be an ecstatically inclusive, theologically progressive, socially committed, scripturally sound, and spiritually adventurous faith community. The lessons we’ve learned, the experiences we’ve shared have taught us well!


Now it’s time to celebrate, as we number our days together. To be fully inclusive, we’ll rejoice together virtually on Pentecost Sunday, May 28, at 5pm. We’ll revive the joy and verve we brought to our pandemic worship with three open-to-all participation offers. We invite everyone—full-time Gatherers, part-time Gatherers, sometime Gatherers, and friends of Gather—to contribute to this experience. Even if you’ve just been watching from the sidelines, we want to see you and hear from you! You’re a part of us! Scroll down to find out how to be part of the service; then plan to join us at 5pm CDT on YouTube for the premiere of our anniversary worship / party.


Peace, with much love,

Pastor Tim

Hope Keeps Us Alive

If we have a hope in Christ only in this life, then we deserve to be pitied more than anyone else. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead. – 1 Corinthians 15:19-20


Dear Gatherers,


As many of you know, I keep my rent paid doing communications consulting, with a special emphasis in oncology and infectious disease treatment. Over the years I’ve had the honor of meeting dozens of individuals who are living examples of resurrection. Coming out of cancer, HIV/AIDS, hep C, and other deadly diseases is neither a simple nor painless process. Even with medical advances, mortal combat in one’s own body requires stamina, stubbornness, and—above all else—hope. When I speak with survivors, they often discuss a hope-filled transformative process of resurrection. The side effects may be brutal. But it will be worth it. The complications may be many. But it will be worth it. The demands may be grueling. But it will be worth it. Anticipation drives everything.


When we reduce Easter to a one-off event—a mystical moment when a left-for-dead human opens his eyes to discover he’s been completely transformed to live forever—we miss what resurrection’s purpose is. The prospect of defying death amplifies hope that keeps us alive. Maybe that’s why nobody knows what happens after we cross die; not knowing empowers each of us to shape our own hope with imagination that compels us to push ahead. As Paul says, if all we’re looking at is what we’ve got, we don’t have much. But as so many cancer and infectious disease survivors have taught me, hope keeps us alive if we don’t lose sight of what’s on the other side. Hope makes “living in the moment” possible because it’s never just this moment. It’s also, always what’s next.


This Sunday, we finish our Resurrection People conversation with a focus on hope. Come ready to sing and rejoice and fellowship together. (And bring a mom along; moms know a whole lot about hope!)


Peace, with much love,

Pastor Tim

Risen to Be All You Can Be

The sun has one kind of glory, the moon has another kind of glory, and the stars have another kind of glory (but one star is different from another star in its glory).  It’s the same with the resurrection of the dead. – 1 Corinthians 15:41-42


Dear Gatherers,


The Early Church’s biggest theological puzzle emerged when figuring out how to make meaning of resurrection. Atonement? Nothing new there. It was an ancient idea played out in ritual sacrifices around the known world. Messiah? The countryside crawled with messianic movements. But resurrection? That was new. And it threw Christians for a loop.


What did it mean? How did it work? When does it happen? Perhaps one of the greatest joys of early Christian literature comes from our ancestors wrestle with these questions. Paul regularly attempts to meet the challenge in his letters—to varying degrees of theological success. But often in his strain he scales poetic heights, as when he explains resurrection’s meaning in First Corinthians. The ultimate hope, Paul says, is a kind of glory that embodies all the stardust we’re made of.


We’re not returned to life to be like everybody else, Paul says. Instead, resurrection empowers each of us to live fully into our divinely created singularity. Unlike earthbound stardom conforming to a “type,” in resurrected stardom, every person shines on their own, holds their own unique place in the universe, doesn’t hesitate to let their light shine.


Resurrected life means full life that Jesus explicitly promised. Everything God placed in you—as well as all the ways your life veered left and right to complete your making—needs to explode and radiate. Rise to this occasion! Be the star God has resurrected you to be!


Peace, with much love,

Pastor Tim


Giving News

Our giving has been solid and we’re grateful for those helping take Gather to its next stage of growth. Throughout May, give thought to a regular tithe or pledge that will enable us to expand our monthly capacity as we plan our move into a settled space. How much can you offer? At our upcoming anniversary, we’ll invite everyone to submit their pledges and tithing commitments. Plan now to be one of our regular givers!