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The Way of the Wilderness

Dear Gatherers,


The suddenness of Ash Friday always takes me by surprise. The Christmas themes have barely left the air and here we are, thinking about how we will practice a period of self-reflection and spiritual discipline as we prepare ourselves for Holy Week’s grim recollections and Easter’s rejoicing.


Our ancestors in the Black and Pentecostal church had a word for this. They called it “going through:” finding oneself in a demanding place of uncertainty and discomfort, then mustering all the strength and determination you can summon to make it through. On the other side, there was always jubilee as they sang, “How did you feel when you came out the wilderness?”


Although not everyone at Gather may be familiar with the vernacular, I’m sure we all know the feeling. Lent, then, becomes a kind of intentional going-through so that we can relish the joy of coming out (again!). This season, we’re opening ourselves to some new ways of thinking and practicing our faith during Lent—starting with Sunday’s special look at faith ancestors in story and Word (preached by our own Rachael Pierce). If you’ve got an anecdote about one of your faith ancestors—a grandparent, a church member, a nun, a pastor—who taught you how to go through and come out, bring it! Pastor D’Angelo Smith will lead us in a sacred time of storytelling as we take our early steps into the desert.


Also, I’ll host a special Ash Wednesday tabletop gathering at our place on tomorrow evening. If you’d like to attend, please let him know no later than this evening (Tuesday), by emailing your RSVP to


Blessings for a wonderful and lifegiving journey!

Pastor Tim

Get On Your Feet

Praise in the Dance!

As we continue our ongoing innovations with gathering, we’re leaning into something we’ve talked about for a long, long time. This Sunday, Gather is going to dance! Russoul and Angel-A will be bringing us their very best house and gospel mixes. I’ll have a special word to share. Pastor K will be offering Communion at will—come to the table when you’re ready. And everyone (that’s you) will bring a dish or treat to share in our first big potluck of 2024.

This is your opportunity to invite folks who may not be ready to sit in a traditional service. It’s also a chance to get your own groove on. If you don’t dance, that’s okay. It’s a party—like those dinners Jesus went to when he wasn’t arguing with the “sanctified” crowd. See you this Sunday. We start at 5pm CST.

Pastor Tim

Potluck Theme: Signature Dish – what do you make or enjoy that expresses you? Bring that!

Opportunities at Gather

Part of Gather’s 2024 Year of Radical Vision is staying open to new ways of doing—not for novelty’s sake but to be spiritually led into open spaces and greener pastures. The big clue about how this happens comes from the Gospels and Acts, where the first Christians were remarkably flexible. Sometimes church happened around a table. Sometimes on a hillside. Sometimes there were three people. Other times five thousand showed up. The experience changed but the vision remained constant: living into the “and” of God’s will… making space for more… consistently curious… unafraid of abundance.


This Sunday’s YouTube will be another fresh fresh—a roundtable gathering hosted and led by our own worship leader Angela Tarrant. It will be recorded in real-time in her home, with stirring conversation and anointed music and, of course, breaking sacred bread. You’re invited to be her virtual guests this Sunday at 5pm CST on our YouTube channel. I’ve already RSVP’d “Yes!” to the invitation. I hope you’ll be there too!



Pastor Tim

Our Stories Matter

Can anything good come out of…? – John 1:46


Dear Gatherers,


Bradley Cooper’s Maestro landed with great fanfare on Netflix just before the New Year. The film’s merits and flaws will be debated for years to come, as expected since Cooper’s subject was the charismatic conductor, composer, and pop culture icon Leonard Bernstein.


As I watched the Maestro—awestruck at times, frustrated at others—its theme was inescapable. Lenny was just too big for labels. His life was too messy for a saint, yet his spirit was too pure to call him a sinner. He dominated every space he occupied—whether a concert hall or backroom bar—yet he was remarkably human.


This Sunday we’re launching “Human Lives as Sacred Text,” a series of occasional conversations about people whose gifts and challenges disrupt norms and defy nature. What can we gather from Bernstein’s experience in a world much more like ours than those we find in biblical texts? How does his story resonate with those ancient texts? These are the first questions that will guide our exploration of a life that, in the end, is every bit as human as Jesus of Nazareth and us. See you online this Sunday at 5pm CST!


Peace and blessings,

Pastor Tim


The man looked up and said, “I see people. They look like trees, only they are walking around.” – Mark 8:24


Dear Gatherers,


Clarity takes time. We see this in the story of the blind man who needs two turns to gain his sight. The process is very telling. First, Jesus leads him out of his village and the sensory comforts he relies on. Then Jesus spits on his eyes—yes, that’s right—and lays hands on him. But apparently he needs something more. All he sees are tall people walking around. Then Jesus touches his eyes and he sees.


Gather is going into 2024 much like the man in the story. We’ve been led away from our comfort zones. We’ve experienced the life of Christ and God’s hand on our lives. But we’re still not seeing or hearing clearly. We need God to touch our eyes so we can see more clearly. Our theme for this year is “Radical Vision” as we develop sharper sensory skills to see where God is leading and hear what God is saying. That will require attentive prayer and prayerful intention.


As lead pastor, I want to be fully transparent: 2024 is the make-or-break year for us. Presently we are not sustainable without generous outside support. We’re not being as consistent and reliable as we must be to move ahead wit clarity. This Sunday Pastor K is going to lead us to consider our listening skills in a powerful message drawn from Jesus’s own baptism. In the weeks to come, we’re going to keep asking, “How can we perceive God’s plan for Gather more clearly?”


It’s going to be an amazing adventure. But we’ll need our senses sharpened to trace the path we’re taking—all of us listening and seeing and responding with profound spiritual precision. We can do this. Of that I’m certain.


With blessings and much love,

Pastor Tim

Forward Facing

Don’t remember the prior things; don’t ponder ancient history. Look! I’m doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it? – Isaiah 43:18-19

Dear Gatherers,

Every New Year is a turning-time to look back and ahead. Having just spoken comfort to a people fighting their way back from unimaginable loss, the prophet Isaiah encourages them to face forward. Forget the past. Focus on the future. That’s a huge request for folks whose defining experiences have been triggered by captivity, chaos, and injustice. Yet the prophet hears God’s voice loud and clear. Don’t obsess over what you’ve been through. See what’s happening now. Something new—something radical—is growing out of the rubble and ashes of your loss. Don’t you recognize it?

Sometimes we don’t recognize what God is doing. Sometimes the struggles of our past has placed callouses on our vision that blind us to what our Maker is up to. We need radical vision for that—the ability to see past our pain… to imagine what we can’t yet perceive… to believe what we don’t understand. Radical Vision is Gather’s rallying cry in 2024. God is growing something new and extraordinary out of our rubble. Can we recognize it?

Blessings for a revelatory year of newness, Gather!

Much love,
Pastor Tim

Practicing the Promised Celebration

Practicing the Promised Celebration

Let those who go out, crying and carrying their seed, come home with joyful shouts, carrying bales of grain! – Psalm 126:6

Dear Gatherers,

This Sunday is BIG. We’re opening the mic to anyone who has a song, story, or spoken word piece about the promise of joy. That’s an Advent discipline—finding our way home through the darkness, shouting joyfully when we arrive, our arms filled to overflowing with goodness. Home may not always be where started. Sometimes, like the Magi, we find our way home by another way. But getting home is still essential, no matter where that may be or what it may look like.

Bring your something to share with us—and invite friends who are also artists. We’re going to have an amazing time practicing joy as we await its arrival in the angel choir outside Bethlehem!

Joy always,
Pastor Tim

Giving Thanks and Wellbeing

Personal Thanksgiving Caters Community Feasts 

You must present this offering, plus the leavened flatbread, with the communal thanksgiving sacrifice of well-being.  – Leviticus 7:13

Dear Gatherers,

This time of year always finds me thinking about thankfulness and why our sacred texts insist we remain grateful in all things. Nearly always in scripture, instruction to offer thanks is explicitly tied to blessing the wider community. Leviticus literally ties personal thanksgiving to community feasts, a mindset that prevails in Early Christian practices. If we’re doing this gratitude thing correctly, what happens at our table won’t stay at the table. Sacrifices of thankfulness make the world better! I’ve put a few thoughts about how this works in a brief video. Click below to for a look.

Into the Deep

Jesus said to Simon, “Put out in the deep water…”  – Luke 5:4

This Sunday our own D’Angelo Smith takes us into the deep with a wild and wonderful fishing story. And, no, this is not about the one who got away. On the contrary, it’s about exceeding beyond our wildest imagination. But it doesn’t happen without taking some risks. Make sure you’re at our first gathering in November. It will inspire you. (And bring a bunch of friends who could probably use some inspiration too!)

POTLUCK THEME: Tailgate. Since the Bears are playing the Saints on Sunday, feels like the right time for Gather saints to show up with some tailgate fare!

“Grace and Peace to You…”

Our Thursday Gather conversations have been everything you could ask for: rich, interactive, and super-engaging as Rev. Dr. Pat Carson and Chris White open our understanding of Paul’s  correspondence with first-century Christians. The content is also timely as  a lot of the wisdom in those ancient letters applies directly to us. If you’ve not dropped in on the Thursday gatherings, there’s nothing to stop you. (You can watch in your PJs! It’s on Zoom; see below for the link.)

“Letters to a New Church” also inspired me to look at the texts more closely for parallels to where we are now in this time of transition—an exciting moment in our history that is not without its difficulties. This Sunday on YouTube we’ll look at a famous few paragraphs from Paul’s letter to Philippi, where he begins with grace and considers what it means to be in the struggle together. He has sound advice: our ability to “do all things through Christ” is predicated by our willingness to let go of things that weigh us down and wear us out. Make sure  to join us. (BTW, You can also come to YouTube Sunday worship in your PJs!)

With much love,

Pastor Tim