From Privacy to Presence

By August 4, 2021Weekly Update

Dear Gather Friends and Family,

The rapid privatization of spirituality intrigues me. In the last century, we’ve hurdled from regarding faith as a communal experience to “personal salvation” (which answers the annoying question “What’s in it for me?”) to a new approach in which religion seems best kept as a tightly guarded private affair.

And yet we don’t think twice about self-disclosing all sorts of private information: what makes us feel amused, anxious, amorous, angry, alienated, what we ate and drank last night (pics please!), where we were, who we were with, and so on. Many of us make big consumer choices based on what our purchases may suggest to complete strangers, sometimes vaunting our ability to access places and goods others only dream of. We hear a lot of talk about transparency, which never seems to be available where it’s needed most but always shows up when discretion may be the better choice. We’re inundated with TMI—so much posture in so many posts. But faith? Well, that’s private.

I once asked someone about their faith, and they pulled out the default “higher power” reply. Fair enough. Then I got real curious and asked, “How do you experience your ‘higher power’?” Which (you guessed it) summoned a list of practices: “I meditate. I pray. I spend time in nature. I recite daily affirmations.” All good. But when I asked, “How is this power present in your life?” it felt like I was prying because, well, that’s private.

The ancient Israelites and, later, their rabbis routinely spoke of God as “The Presence.” This was the God who self-identifies as the verb I Will Be, whose name is so awesome it’s never spoken aloud. Such a God sounds perfect for private-belief predilections. Yet the Exodus account goes the opposite way. Once the Israelites seal their love covenant with God, their faith launches a brashly public project of constructing a fancy moveable dwelling for their higher power—which borders on insanity, if you think about it, considering they’re out in the desert relying on daily manna drops to survive. Why would they take on such a task? Because they wanted to visibly demonstrate God was active and present in their life together.

At first, this week’s study chapters (Exodus 25-27) read like a tedious HGTV to-do list: make this out of this, use these fabrics and patterns, accent with these touches. What’s behind it all? A compulsion to attend to the Presence that binds them together. That’s what we’ll look at this Thursday at 7:30pm CDT. Make sure you’re with us!


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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.