All Posts By

admin

SEALED WITH A MEAL

Dear Gatherers,

 

I sometimes wonder how many of us engage in our tradition’s ancient rites, never considering where they come from. How many assume we know the story—and very likely do—but never wonder if there might a story behind the story? Nearly every Christian can trace the Eucharistic rite back to Jesus’s farewell dinner with his friends. At Gather, we recreate and reflect on this event every time we worship together. “Do this in remembrance of me.” And many of us get the connection with Passover, as the Gospels make clear.

Yet Jesus’s use of a dinner to seal the recollection of his life and death belong to an even broader covenantal tradition. We witness this in Exodus 24, the focus of this Thursday’s study. Moses receives the list of 10 divine expectations in chapter 20. The ethical demands on the community are spelled out in the “Book of the Covenant” (Ex. 21-23). All that’s needed is the people’s assent to abide by these principles for the deal will be struck.

Once they agree, Moses, Aaron, Aaron’s sons, and 70 elders head back up the mountain to confirm their willingness to comply. Coming as close as they can to the Divine Presence, we read this: “God didn’t harm the Israelite leaders, though they looked at God, and they ate and drank” (Ex. 24:11). With apologies for the Seussical echoes, the deal gets sealed with a meal.

We hear loud echoes of covenantal language at the Last Supper. Calling the bread his body, Jesus self-identifies as the well-being sacrifice at the center of this common meal. (The disciples get it; their ears are sharply attuned to sacrificial metaphor, based on deep religious experience.) Jesus calls the wine a “new covenant.”

This goes back to Mt. Sinai, where God’s promise of acceptance and the community’s commitment to ethical living are joined in treaty.

While we envision the Last Supper during Communion, could Jesus and his friends be remembering a much older meal on a mountain meadow? If so, how does that enrich our understanding of Communion? We’ll dig into this on Thursday at 7:30pm CDT, along with many other intriguing—and seldom discussed—aspects of what happens on Sinai. Don’t miss the latest in our summer series, Exodus: The Greatest Coming Out Story Ever Told.

 

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82424012625
Meeting ID: 824 2401 2625
Or dial 1-312-626-6799 using the same meeting ID.

 

See you this Thursday!

 

Peace,
Pastor Tim

 

PS: If you’ve not been able yet to enjoy last Sunday’s YouTube worship, do your best. Actual service time is under an hour and there are a lot of refreshing (and unusual) moments packed into that short time! https://youtu.be/kySlnrvzlO8

We need your help!

As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!

Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea

As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.

Lifted

Dear Gatherers,

 

As our journey through Exodus forges ahead, this week finds us at a fascinating transition. The Israelites are out of Egypt and seem to be figuring out how reliance on God’s abundance works. Now they’re about to hear from their Divine Keeper in a way that will ultimately shape the meaning of law and justice forever. We’re approaching the definitive moment when Torah is given to Moses at Sinai (the “Mountain of God”) and crystallized into 10 rules that ultimately lay the groundwork for innumerable legal and ethical systems to come. They will be delivered in an awesome display of power as God’s presence shrouds the Sinai summit and the earthquakes at the thunder of God’s voice.

Before this happens, God says something no less extraordinary. He tells Moses to pass this along to the people: “You saw what I did to the Egyptians, and how I lifted you up on eagles’ wings and brought you to me” (Ex. 19:4). Then God encourages them to heed divine guidance, saying worth depends on their commitment to carry out the plans God has for them. All of this bravado is really about the people, not God. I lifted you so you would be special (also translated as ‘particular’ or ‘peculiar’) to me.” In other words, all of this God-bravado is really about you, not me. And that’s precisely how God’s power works. It’s always about how much God cares for us and God’s longing to lift us, to instruct us, to give us guidelines for our betterment.

Not feeling special lately? Take a minute or two and recall moments when you’ve been lifted out of despair or struggle or simply feeling stuck. Lifting us is how God reminds us we matter. God loves each of us in very specific ways. God likes that we’re peculiar. And because God wants us to succeed, God moves us toward some fairly basic, commonsensical guidelines for abundant life.

Be part of our summer-long study series Exodus: The Greatest Coming Out Story Ever Told. All kinds of amazing details come to light as we look at this ancient text through fresh eyes!

 

Join via Zoom, each Thursday at 7:30p CDT
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82424012625
Meeting ID: 824 2401 2625
Or dial 1-312-626-6799 using the same meeting ID.

 

Peace,
Pastor Tim

We need your help!

As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!

Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea

As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.

HONORING THE SEVENS

Dear Gatherers,

 

Our Exodus study has been—to put it mildly—intense. This week, on the other side of the Sea of Reeds, things settle down a bit and they feel a little simpler. In chapters 16 and 17, a series of wondrous episodes demonstrate God’s presence and concern. The Israelites get thirsty, and water flows to them. When they get hungry, breakfast and dinner fall from the sky. When they face attack, they overcome their adversary in a most unusual way. A lot goes on in these chapters, but it has a lift to it. God keeps showing up and showing out, despite the grumbing. (And these folks know how to grumble!)

To be fair, the Israelites are managing extraordinary stress. After living in Egypt for 430 years, they’ve got to figure the whole nomadic thing out. Think of how stressed we get packing for a road trip or a long vacation. Now imagine doing that for an indefinite period of time. Sure, they’re stressed out. Naturally they’re complaining. Perhaps that’s why God issues the first law of the desert: work six days, honor the seventh. Rest. Let it all go. Eat leftovers. Be still. By the time the Sabbath gets codified in the Ten Commandments, it’s already an Israelite custom.

As we move into post-COVID reality, we may also feel stressed and disoriented. The media have picked up on this and it’s likely you’ve already heard the phrase “post-pandemic anxiety” bandied about. This new reality may be hard for a lot of us. But if we take anything from this week’s study, I hope it’s a two-fold lesson: 1) Trust is the first step to getting our needs met—often in unusual and possibly even controversial ways, and 2) We need to honor our sevens and rest on purpose—which is very different from resting when we find the time.

True rest can be more healing than medicine. And I pray that this transition back to “normalcy” will prompt us to be intentional and take a day of rest. Then, let’s flag other “sevens” in our days,  scheduled moments to be still… to look up and wonder how blessings fall from the sky… to eat leftovers, chewing on ideas and emotions we’ve not had time to digest. Our addresses may be fixed, but we are nomadic in more ways than we recognize: constantly moving, mapping our days, running and rushing. There’s a lot to learn from the newly freed people of Israel. Join us this Thursday at 7:30p CDT as we continue our series, “Exodus: The Greatest Coming Out Story Ever Told.”

 

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82424012625
Meeting ID: 824 2401 2625
Or dial 1-312-626-6799 using the same meeting ID.

 

I look forward to seeing everyone this week!

 

Peace,
Pastor Tim

We need your help!

As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!

Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea

As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.

MEMORY AND MOVEMENT

Dear Gather Family and Friends,

 

This week’s Exodus study features a drumbeat as the Israelites are repeatedly instructed to keep the memory of their struggle as a “sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead so that you will often discuss the Lord’s Instruction, for the Lord brought you out of Egypt with great power” (Ex. 13:9). Never lose touch with your past; keep it top of mind, God tells the soon-to-be-liberated Israelites. It is the story that will shape their future as nation, as a faith community, and ultimately become the ground on which our own Christian faith is built.

Israel’s liberation amounts to more than crossing a reedy sea with miraculous waterwalls on both sides. The story of a humiliated, enslaved people proving so important to God proves how faithfully—and predictably—our God stands with the oppressed, marginalized, and outcast. This has been true again and again. A sign on your hand, a reminder on your forehead. Don’t forget it. It will keep you moving.

This message is especially timely, coming between last Saturday’s Juneteenth holiday and this weekend’s 52nd anniversary of Stonewall. Both represent a parting of waters to open the way toward greater equality and justice. But Exodus reminds us the past must never become a fading history lesson. It’s vital to keep our struggles alive in memory, constantly reminding ourselves that freedom is a moving target. Movements push us forward, propelled by injustices and atrocities of the past.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” Dr. King famously said, paraphrasing the 19th-century abolitionist preacher Theodore Parker. That we still draw strength from this truth tells us how long and arduous the quest for freedom really is. If we are wise, we will make room for remembering to keep us headed in the right direction. Gratefully, two occasions for remembering happen this week at Gather.

Join us tonight at 7:30pm CDT for the next chapter in our study series, “Exodus: The Greatest Coming Out Story Ever Told”.

 

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82424012625
Meeting ID: 824 2401 2625
Or dial 1-312-626-6799 using the same meeting ID.

 

Then on this coming Sunday at 5pm CDT, make sure you’re with us for our annual Pride service. Our own Janice Beard will bring a dynamic message and the music will celebrate the genius of Stevie Wonder. You’ll find us via our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCldChQ-w8vS1vkbSDyyxLOQ.

We’re thrilled to have these opportunities to be together and hope you’ll take part in them!

 

In freedom, with love,
Pastor Tim

We need your help!

As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!

Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea

As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.

EXODUS ADVENTURE

Dear Gather Family,

As our Exodus adventure unfolds, we see how incredible events that defy “natural order” reveal a higher purpose. The flaming bush that doesn’t burn out attests to a God who does not destroy what God creates. And now, in this week’s discussion, we get the first nine plagues that begin rather comically as a showdown. Then, as the attacks intensify, Pharaoh’s magicians lose their mojo. The conflict is not, as first seems, between religious or even political ideologies. It is a battle of wills: Pharaoh’s willfulness and God’s uncontestable intention. In between rests a community of people drawn into harder labor with steadily reduced rights and dwindling power to embrace their identities as children of Israel (which means, “wrestle with God”) and Hebrews (“outsiders”).

The problem is bigger than enslavement. As divinely directed, Moses insists God’s people must be at liberty to leave Egypt, where they can worship God according to their own convictions. The prophet is very clear: this move is for everyone in the community. No one is left behind. No one is rejected. Not even the livestock are allowed to remain in captivity. If you’re an outsider—a wrestler with God—it is per divine edict that you’re free to worship God safely and with meaning. (In chapter 12, we’ll learn the Exodus also included a “diverse crowd” that extended beyond the Israelite slaves. So, as always happens, freedom drew others into community.)

The plagues portend something far more dangerous than ecological disasters. Any time people oppress a band of scrappy outsiders, the strategy inevitably backfires. The border patrol inevitably hems itself in. “How long will this man trap us?” Pharaoh’s leaders ask (Ex. 10:7). It is from this example we learn the right side of history always supports crossing boundaries, opening space, and embracing freedom for all. The right side of history is always transgressive in powerful, world-altering ways.

Make sure you join us this Thursday at 7:30 CDT as we look at confrontations with Pharaoh through the lens of God’s overarching intention: freedom and worship in inclusive, diverse community.

 

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82424012625
Meeting ID: 824 2401 2625
Or dial 1-312-626-6799 using the same meeting ID.

Peace and blessings,
Pastor Tim

We need your help!

As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!

Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea

As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.

CALL AND RESPONSE

Dear Gatherers,

Our Exodus journey continues with another pivotal event: Moses’s burning bush encounter with God. (Click here to read this week’s passage.) In the popular imagination, this is one of those amazing moments when there can be no mistaking what’s going on. We call these occurrences “theophanies,” where the divine presence is manifested so vividly no questions are necessary. Who else can it be, but God? What else could one do, but say yes? How else could one feel other than totally sure? For goodness sakes, this is a flaming bush that doesn’t burn up, in a voice that comes from nowhere, and knows everything about Moses, his people, and their situation. “I’ve seen… I’ve heard… I know,” the voice says (Ex. 3:7). Not much to question there.

Except Moses has lots of questions and plenty of doubts, not only in the viability of God’s strategy, but also in his own ability to pull it off. If Moses struggles, we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves if we’re taken aback when the Spirit speaks to us, reminds us who we are, what we need to do, and why we’re essential to God’s work in the world.

The call to stand for all that is just and against anything that smacks of injustice is every bit as real for us as it was for Moses. And if we suppose a burning bush and voice from on high would give us the necessary oomph to do this work, let’s look more closely at Exodus 3 and 4. Soon enough, Moses will become the prophetic mediator, increasingly overshadowed by the bright lights of divine revelation and guidance (as happens to most prophets). Right here, on this mountain, where God is speaking and God’s relentless nature is revealed in a fire that refuses to burn out, Moses is remarkably human—so like us it’s uncanny.

This Thursday, we’ll revisit the burning bush with new eyes and ears. Hopefully a closer look at Moses will raise new questions about ourselves. When God’s Spirit calls, how do we respond? How often do we reject the idea God would ever call on us, given our uncertainties and inadequacies and the size of the task before us? How quickly do we fall into the same groove that Moses falls into: You need somebody else. Nobody’s going to care what I say. I’m not equipped for this. How easily we forget about Moses! How easily we discount God’s faith in us and undervalue faith we need in ourselves!

Don’t miss our next chapter in Exodus: The Greatest Coming Out Story Ever Told! We meet this Thursday at 7:30p CDT. See you then!

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82424012625
Meeting ID: 824 2401 2625
Or dial 1-312-626-6799 using the same meeting ID.

Peace and blessings,
Pastor Tim

We need your help!

As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!

Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea

As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.

A SUMMER UNLIKE ANY

Dear Gather Family and Friends,

A summer unlike any we’ve ever known is opening its arms to us. After 15 long months of isolation and hyper-vigilance, we’re experiencing the first tastes of freedom. It’s time to get out and about! No doubt, many of us suspect this experience of captivity and fear has probably altered us in ways we can’t understand yet. Over time, we’ll get there. But for right now, being free matters most. The Hebrew slaves of Egypt must have felt the same way. When time came to pick up and move out, they had nothing left to lose and everything to gain from trusting their divinely appointed leader, Moses.

Especially for those of us whose vision of the biblical account is marred by Charlton Heston mixing it up with Yul Brynner in The Ten Commandments, it’s easy to assume the slaves’ deliverance is purely a God thing. And as liberation Christians we’re right to imagine divine concern for Israel automatically places God on the side of the impoverished and oppressed. But the authors of Exodus emphatically tell us history’s most famous freedom ride begins not with godly wrath, but rather with the protests of the enslaved. “The Israelites were still groaning because of their hard work. They cried out, and their cry to be rescued from the hard work rose up to God,” we read in Exodus 2:23.

The first big lesson of Exodus isn’t “hang around passively and God will intervene.” It’s closer to, “Raise your voice! Make some noise!” And it’s in that spirit that we’ll launch our summer-long travels with Moses and the Israelites. Each week will burst with intriguing moments (most of which never made it into the movie) and more than a few surprises. Plan now to be with us each Thursday at 7:30pm CDT for a wonderful time of learning and sharing together.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82424012625
Meeting ID: 824 2401 2625
Or dial 1-312-626-6799 using the same meeting ID.

I’m really excited about this series and can’t wait to share it with you!

Peace and blessings,
Pastor Tim

We need your help!

As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!

Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea

As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.

TIME FOR A RUMMAGE SALE

Dear Gather Family and Friends,

In her 2008 book The Great Emergence, the late (also great) Phyllis Tickle described the Church’s “500-Year Rummage Sale,” proposing that every five centuries or so the Church enters a period of housekeeping, deciding what should be kept and what should be discarded. History bears her out, too, with the last rummage sale happening 500 years ago with the Protestant Reformation.

Now we’re on the verge of another reformation, and for those who insist things must remain as they have been, the idea can be very frightening because they are observing their preferred way of thinking in its last days. For the rest of us, however, that’s not such a bad thing because the whole Pentecostal concept of a radically cross-cultural, liberating gospel is—has always been—a last days theology. Peter’s Acts 2 sermon nails this: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit on all flesh” (italics mine).

Many conflate “last days” with “end of time.” Others leap to the Second Coming. But the prophetic idea is closer to Tickle’s rummage sale. A new era is dawning—“the end of the age” is how Jesus put it—when the Holy Spirit shakes everything up. We saw this with the original Pentecost, with the great East-West schism of 1054, and with Luther’s reforms of 1517, when Bibles became printed in every language and people articulated their faith in new ways. Now, 500 years later, we’re seeing the emergence of a new dialect that accentuates unconditional love and open invitation, the ushering in of ecstatically inclusive communities where no one is denied or denigrated. We are witnessing a Third Pentecost.

Pentecost then, now, and in the next move of the Spirit—these are thrilling ideas connected by one core principle: all means all. We’ll spend our next time together looking at what this Third Pentecost is really about and how we participate in it. Our final installment in our Hearts on Fire series happens this Thursday at 7:30pm CDT. We look forward to being together for this great discussion!

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85086032936

Meeting ID: 850 8603 2936
One tap mobile
+13126266799,,85086032936# US (Chicago)

 

See you on Thursday!

Blessings,
Pastor Tim

We need your help!

As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!

Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea

As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.

A Movement is (Re)Born

Dear Gather Friends and Family,

Under a blue street sign that bears the name “Azusa,” in a boisterous LA neighborhood just northeast of downtown, a smaller square brown sign reads, “AZUSA ST. MISSION. Site of the Azusa St. Revival from 1906-1931. Cradle of the Worldwide Pentecostal Movement.” Like Peter and the other disciples in the Upper Room, Azusa marks a fresh outpouring of the Spirit that says, “This is that” which Joel spoke of. What birthed the Early Church movement in first century Jerusalem is what ushered in the rebirth of Pentecostalism in 20th century America.

 

There was a longing in the US for this movement to be one that would bring together the social and the spiritual, so that the injustices of racism and gender oppression would be overcome through the power of the Holy Spirit in this “New Jerusalem.” After a few short years, the movement stalled. However, from Azusa Street, Pentecostalism has spread and continues to spread worldwide. It is the fastest growing part of Christianity globally, especially, in the Global South. It seems the Spirit continues to speak, to move, and to create fresh moments of being reborn.

 

But there are important lessons to be learned along the way. The success stories are many, along with many cautionary tales of how trying to “catch lightning in a bottle” and attempting to harness the unpredictable—ungovernable—power of the Holy Spirit can become a self-defeating project. And all of this is important for those of us who are convinced the Spirit is moving in fresh ways, taking our faith into new and uncharted waters. What can we learn from our past to equip us to meet the demands God is placing on us in our own time?

 

Join our study Thursday night at 7:30p CDT as we trace the Pentecostal movement in the US from the spirituals of the enslaved, to the revivals of the Great Awakenings, and finally to Azusa Street. The Spirit is marked by movement; it is her modus operandi. May we feel and be moved by her presence!

 

Peace and blessings,

Shea Watts

Virtual Pastor

Join Zoom Study here:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85086032936
Meeting ID: 850 8603 2936
Or dial 1-312-626-6799 using the same meeting ID.

PS: And plan now to join us for our three-year anniversary celebration and Pentecost worship experience this Sunday at 5p CDT on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCldChQ-w8vS1vkbSDyyxLOQ.

We need your help!

As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!

Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea

As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.

WHAT IS THIS?

Dear Gatherers,

As with Christmas and Easter, once a year Christians celebrate a signal event in our history: the descent of the Holy Spirit recounted in Acts 2. And just as we recall with awe the angelic announcement of a coming savior or the death-defying triumph of an empty tomb, we return to an overcrowded attic in Jerusalem to marvel at a supernatural demonstration unlike anything ever seen. Roaring winds, dancing flames, people speaking languages they’ve never known, a layman preaching one of the most influential sermons on record—all of this occurring to a motley crew of peasants with hick accents and country ways. It’s really an extraordinary and beautiful thing!

But we can become so inured to the details in this story we lose touch with its essence. The first Pentecost is, above all else, a tale of empowerment. It shows us what happens when a tiny community of faith insurgents dares to trust God’s promises. Peter didn’t show up for service in the Upper Room with a sermon on his iPad. He hadn’t done the exegesis and research needed to contextualize Joel’s vision of a great spiritual outpouring on all people (starting with a ragtag bunch of Galileans). They hadn’t worked out all the liturgical details. They were there together, waiting, watching, looking for something they’d never encountered before. Long before that day, Peter and his friends had been living for the moment when the Spirit would break through bad religion and political oppression and social constraints. When it happened, they knew exactly what was going on.

“This is that which the prophet Joel was talking about!” Peter told them. And what is the “this” in his proclamation? What does “this” mean? What does “this” do? What is the power behind the special effects? We’ll dig into some very rich and rewarding ground with Part Two of our “Hearts on Fire” series, as we revisit the first Pentecost. We gather this Thursday at 7:30 CDT and look forward to seeing you!

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85086032936
Meeting ID: 850 8603 2936
Or dial 1-312-626-6799 using the same meeting ID.

Peace and blessings,
Pastor Tim

We need your help!

As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!

Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea

As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.