Owning Our Strength

Shea: Who is the woman above us?
Tim: That’s Irene Pappas, the 20th-century Greek theater and cinema legend. It’s a shot from her most famous film in the States, Zorba the Greek (1964), in which she plays a young widow whose fate gets tangled up with a young man who meets with a tragic end. It’s the kind of role that would bury most actresses. The Widow (as she’s known) is a helpless victim. But Pappas invests her with a ferocity and pathos that turn a marginalized character into one of the most powerful women in 1960s film. And I bet you’re wondering where this is going, right?

Shea: Well, when you start talking movies …
Tim: Not to worry. I pulled the Pappas photo because I envision her when I read the story of Rizpah. She’s a character who intrigues me every which way.

Shea: We’re revisiting her story this Thursday night at Gather as part of our series on spiritual disciplines. The theme is courage, correct?
Tim: Yes and she personifies it in how she turns grief into triumph. I don’t want to give too much away. But suffice to say when state-sanctioned violence takes her sons, Rizpah refuses to let it slide. King David plays politics, placating longtime enemies, paying no mind to the human cost. But Rizpah, a relative nobody, courageously takes a knee and humiliates him.

Shea: Again, we’ve got a passage that feels ripped from the headlines.
Tim: We live in a time of cowardice and opportunism. We see things that don’t make sense, because folks who profess to have directly opposing values are content to play politics if they think it will get them what they wants. It’s a dangerous position to take. That’s why courage is becoming an increasingly vital spiritual discipline in these undisciplined times. We’ve got to have Rizpah courage to speak truth to power and refuse to bend. We’ve got to own our strength. As I picture Rizpah, in my mind’s eye she’s got that Pappas brand of fire and fury. She knows where she’s strong and she won’t be pushed aside. We need more of that in this day and age. It’s a story that resonates deeply.

Shea: And we have a fierce and courageous teacher to guide us this week.
Tim: We couldn’t ask for better. Our own Bishop Phyllis Pennese will lead the study this Thursday night. She’s been on the forefront of social justice for a long long time and is no stranger to struggle. We’re truly blessed to have her bring this lesson. It’s not something you want to miss!

Join us this Thursday at L!VE Café, 163 S. Oak Park Avenue in Oak Park. Doors open at 7:00p, the study begins at 7:30p. If you can’t be with us in person, join us via Facebook Live.

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

NEW SERIES BEGINS IN SEPTEMBER
What kinds of spiritual practices and habits work best for us? How do we keep our faith life fresh? What do we do when things we’ve always done feel like they’re not working? How do we stay plugged in to God’s work in us and our community? This fall we’ll look at spiritual disciplines as our means of survival in an increasingly chaotic world.
Join us every Thursday from September 6 through October 11, as we examine Spiritual Disciplines for Undisciplined Times.

UPCOMING GATHER OPPS
September 13 & 20 – Two dear friends of Gather will be bringing the Word while Pastor Tim is away on vacation. On September 13, Bishop Phyllis Pennese will continue with Spiritual Disciplines study with a look at Courage. The following week, Rev. Michelle Hughes, Interim Pastor of Pilgrim Congregational UCC, will lead the study on mindfulness. Both of these great pastors and teachers will feed your soul!  Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from them!
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Mark your calendars for October 27, when Pilgrim Congregational UCC will host an extraordinary concert featuring two amazing talents: Andrew Barnes Jamison (keys) and Darnell Ishmel (vocals). The concert begins at 7:30. It will be one of the highlights of the fall!

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.