Why “All” Means All

Tim: This week’s topic is a twofer: Spirit and Community.
Shea: You can’t talk about one without the other.
Tim: Why is that?
Shea: The Spirit is how God is embodied in God’s people. When the Spirit arrives (as Jesus promised), she gives birth to the Body of Christ, and then remains to guide and sustain it.
Tim: So the Spirit is a “she”…
Shea: I perceive the Spirit as a “she.” Watch how she’s described and behaves in the texts. She births an ecstatically inclusive community called “the Church.” She nurtures it with extraordinary care. Under her influence, its members embrace and feed one another, defying social customs that divide and denigrate.. She’s got no use for any of that, just like she’s got no use for liars and bigots and phonies. That’s how Mamas do.
Tim: There’s also biblical precedence for conceiving the Spirit as feminine.
Shea: In the beginning, the Spirit of God—as the Spirit in creation that hovers over the waters of creation—is “Ruach” and is feminine. Throughout the Hebrew Bible, she has two distinctively female personas: “Shekinah,” or the divine presence, and “Chokmah,” or wisdom. That’s why everyone gets a seat at her table. The presence of God, the wisdom of God, the unconditional love and undiluted power of God—if all of God is present in the Spirit, then every human being’s welcome is assured. It can’t possibly go any other way.
Tim: How does Peter explain it at Pentecost?
Shea: “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh” (Acts 2:17). There’s no working around that. “All” means all. No walls or fences, no admission committees, no velvet ropes and bouncers, no VIP sections, none of that. Just the Spirit flowing in and out of everyone who says, “Count me in!”
Tim: What about those who say God decides who’s in and out, usually based on behavioral criteria: how you act, who you hang with, how you pray, how you identify, all of that.
Shea: That misses the whole point. Either it’s “all”—everybody—or it’s not. There’s no such thing as a selective “all.” If it’s not all, it’s less than all, nothing at all, and obviously substandard.
Tim: How do we fix that?
Shea: We embrace the promise of Pentecost. But we also realize how hard that can be, because we’re tribal by nature. We think in “us/them” patterns and for centuries the institutional church—not the real Church—has promoted “us/them” religion. It’s tried to overcorrect for the chaotic, all-inclusive move of the Spirit. But there’s a big problem with that. When you start telling the Spirit how to move and whom to accept, like a wise and loving parent, she’ll let you run it. But then she’ll also hold you accountable for thinking you can order her around. Yep, as I see it, the Spirit is the biggest, baddest Big Mama there ever was.

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

A few save-the-date opportunities to invite folks to be part of the Gather faith community experience:
  • Next Thursday, May 24: Our series turns its sights on worship–a perfect opportunity to try out our worship skills! We’ll pilot what a Gather worship service could look like and rejoice in the joy of our salvation!
  • We wrap up the Origins series on May 31 with a focus on Grace and Gratitude. This will be a story-telling session, as we hear from a number of folks about the ways God’s grace and their gratitude have made a difference in their lives.
  • Sunday, June 24: Gather will join the Lighthouse Church (4713 N. Broadway, Chicago) in a special worship service prior to joining thousands from other Chicagoland churches as we witness God’s love and radical welcome in the annual Gay Pride parade. Tee shirts and more info soon to come!

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.

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!