JOY AND JUSTICE
October has been a tumultuous month. The political landscape at home and abroad grows increasingly unstable. The environment groans beneath the imposition of personal carelessness and corporate callousness. California is on fire. In our hometown, untenable working conditions have pushed Chicago teachers out of the classroom and onto the picket lines. We’re allegedly experiencing one of the greatest economic booms in our history. Still, there doesn’t seem to be enough to go around.
News flash: there will never be enough. Why? There will always be people whose lust for wealth, power, and privilege emboldens them to grab more than their share. Until we get over our greed, neglect and poverty will always be with us. Even Jesus admits this in Mark 14:7: “The poor you will always have with you,” he says, adding, “you can help them whenever you want.”
Help them whenever you want—which means if folks aren’t helped, it’s because we don’t want to. That last bit needs stressing. At present, in capitalist white America, a strain of “conservative” and “prosperity” gospelers try to twist Jesus’s words to justify toadying up to power while ignoring its abuse of the poor, marginalized, and homeless. They forget two of Christianity’s basic premises: welcome and care for the other and resisting the injustices of Empire.
Simply because poverty is constant doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. Because everyone goes through hardship doesn’t mean we have to surrender to forces that cause it. Because some don’t know how to control their tongues doesn’t mean we’re not obliged to watch our words. And because someone comes into our community with a fat bank account, big house, and fancy car doesn’t entitle them to more admiration or trust than the individual who has little to nothing. These are the teachings in the Letter of James, bounded in the wisdom that, despite all the injustice and suffering we experience and witness, we hold on to joy… We reach for joy.
At Gather, we’re spending this autumn looking at those two sides of life: joy and justice. This Thursday we wrap our study of James. Next month we’ll pair our Sunday worship experience (November 10)—gratitude and grace—with a look at Ruth, Esther, and Judith, whose passion for justice rewarded them as the only women with biblical books bearing their names. Then we’ll spend December with Franciscan friar and author Richard Rohr, whose lovely devotional, Preparing for Christmas, will guide us through Advent. We will find joy in all these places and with that we’ll find strength to navigate the times. Don’t miss this opportunity to be part of Gather’s family!
Join us this Thursday at 7:30p as we conclude our series “Words & Music”—a look at worship from the Early Church to today. We meet in person at Pilgrim Congregational Church, 460 Lake Street, in Oak Park. Or you can join online via FB 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
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.