“Lord, Lord, open unto me!” – Howard Thurman
Shea: Too often, I expect to encounter God in larger-than-life experiences.
Tim: Oh yea, those colossal moments where the impossible breaks into our lives. The scriptures are full of them. You know, those earth-wide-flood-ladders-to-heaven-burning-bush-sea-splitting-sun-standing-still type moments.
Shea: Yep. I look for moving mountains or listen for an audible voice to resound from heaven. We read about these fantastical events and expect to encounter God in these types of ways. But I wonder if in doing so we miss the continual ways we are already encountering the divine in daily life? I think we need to recalibrate how we talk and think about this, which can retune our expectations.
Tim: Recalibrating our expectations—say more.
Shea: Gladly. One of the things that I love about Howard Thurman’s work is how he sees the divine in nature and, as a result, in every day encounters—a sunrise, an old oak tree, the mountains standing tall in the distant landscape. These encounters we too often take for granted or dismiss as mundane. They don’t meet our lofty expectations, so we dismiss them as ordinary.
Tim: Perhaps we become too accustomed to the beauty around us? How do we recapture that sense of wonder?
Shea: I think it begins with the seemingly small things we do frequently. Take prayer, for example. For many of us, prayer can become routinized in a way that diminishes the magnitude of the act! Perhaps we think it’s a one-way echo chamber instead of a dynamic conversation that radically reimagines and reshapes life itself. There is no such thing as “ordinary.” Everything is alive with the animating life of God.
Tim: Prayer as a revolutionary act?
Shea: Yes! In prayer, we are opened up. Here, in this postured place, we become aware of God’s presence in us like waves in the sea. The Spirit hovers over those waters and ebbs and flows like the tide. All of a sudden, we become aware that God is always already with us. In search of the divine encounter, what we find is an awakening to the divine reality that we live in dynamic relationship with God. It’s not just communication, but communion.
Tim: Amen. May we repeat the wise mystic’s prayer: “Lord, open unto me!”
Join us each Thursday in Lent as we delve more deeply into our spiritual lives with the help of the great 20th century pastor, activist, and mystic Howard Thurman. We meet each week at 7:30pm in the Resource Room of Pilgrim Congregational Church, 460 Lake Street, Oak Park or online at FB Live. See you this week!
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.