Embracing the Whole of Humanity

Shea: This week we’re looking at chapters five and six of Mark’s Gospel and I don’t know how else to say it except Jesus is crushing it.
Tim: The next two weeks give us some of the most famous miracles—feeding thousands of people (not once, but twice), curing a woman who’s been sick for 12 years, reviving a religious leader’s daughter and healing a pagan woman’s daughter, walking on water, and an exorcism that ends with 2000 drowned pigs. It’s all spectacular!
Shea: The earlier issues of clean and unclean, touchable and untouchable, who’s a sinner and who’s not, whether or not Jesus is crazy or possessed—none of the accusations hurled at him are sticking.
Tim: What’s more, we see a new pattern emerge with Jesus and his followers sailing back and forth across Lake Galilee. Mark’s writer cleverly uses geography to bolster the Gospels’ theme: the kingdom of God belongs to everyone.
Shea: When he’s on the west side of the lake, he’s talking to Jewish folks. But when he sails to the eastern shore he’s with Gentiles, folks who don’t worship the God of Israel, who don’t keep the Sabbath, who don’t obey all the clean and unclean rules that have occupied so much of the story up till now.
Tim: Yet the author is very careful to show us that what happens on the “Jewish” side of the lake also happens in the “Gentile” region. The mirroring is brilliant and the message is unmistakable.
Shea: Embracing the whole of humanity is Jesus’s mission. It’s central to God’s reign. And if we look at what he’s doing, the repentance Jesus calls for when he announces the kingdom of God is not a call for exclusivity, rigidity, piety, and other “religious” compulsions that cause so much pain. Jesus’s call is actually the opposite: to become more inclusive, more open-minded, more welcoming, and completely unconcerned about borders and boundaries, labels and locations.
Tim: How timely this lesson is right now! Jesus meets people in all kinds of trouble on both sides of the lake. On both sides, desperate parents whose children are endangered seek him out and Jesus is so moved by their faith he changes his policy to see the families are cared for. That alone should give us pause.
Shea: He also upsets an entire village when helping a deeply troubled man literally puts their pork-based economy under water. Something else we should think about, given our current proclivity to place financial gain over and above care for the neediest among us.
Tim: No amount of discomfort or disapproval can stop Jesus. In his mind, boundaries are for crossing, freedom is for taking, and the good news of the kingdom is for all people. And if we’re going to follow Jesus…
Shea: The road always takes us home, doesn’t it? “All” means ALL. Thursday night is going to be rich!

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

Summer is the perfect time for a “walking tour” of Mark’s Gospel. The oldest and shortest of the Gospels, Mark is full of amazing details that capture the life and ministry of Jesus in fascinating ways. Mark’s Jesus is a man on a mission without much patience for folks who can’t keep up. He says exactly what’s on his mind. And the writer tells the Jesus story in an action-packed style overflowing with mysterious touches. Why is there no Christmas chapter? Why is Jesus so tough on the disciples? Why can’t they see who he really is? Why are the women afraid to tell the news of the Risen Christ? And what’s up with that naked man in Gethsemane (among other peculiarities)?
Join us every Thursday from June 7-August 30, as we spend the summer touring Mark’s Gospel. It will be a trip well worth taking!

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.