Present and Trustworthy
SHEA: We’re starting our new series and we have an amazing conversation partner.
TIM: We sure do! We’ll be spending Lent with the legendary 20th-century theologian, pastor, activist, and mystic, Howard Thurman. And when you’re in his company, you can expect to see things in fresh, provocative ways.
SHEA: Thurman has had a profound influence on modern Christianity, especially seminarians and pastors—and we’re two of them!
TIM: What makes his prominence especially sweet is how few people who knew him as a young person would have predicted the stature he achieved.
SHEA: He was born in meager circumstances in Florida, but raised by strong parents and grandparents—
TIM: Oh yes. You can’t go too far in his writing or theology without bumping them. They were all deeply committed Christians and magnificent theologians in their own right.
SHEA: Then, as Thurman went on to lead one of the nation’s first interdenominational integrated churches just after World War II and hold positions at Howard and Boston University, the knowledge his parents and grandmother instilled in him became foundational to work.
TIM: He also met and learned from Mahatma Gandhi, which led to his formulation of radical nonviolence as the fulfillment of Jesus’s ideal of God’s kingdom.
SHEA: And he became a major contributor to Martin Luther King Jr.’s message.
TIM: It’s no stretch to say Thurman pastored King. Time after time when he needed strength and clarity Dr. King went back to Dr. Thurman.
SHEA: So why are we embarking on this year’s Lenten journey with Howard Thurman?
TIM: Well, the wisdom and spirituality that we attribute to Thurman is timeless. But it’s especially powerful during periods when we’re drawn to introspective practices. His voice resonates in meditative and reflective moments, when we’re examining our own lives and beliefs. And his message most definitely found its roots in scripture.
SHEA: We’re beginning our desert walk in Jeremiah 17, which (appropriately) paints a picture between those whose lives are barren and those who thrive. Jeremiah sees trust in God as the determining factor.
TIM: Thurman expands on that by describing what we might call the “hereness” of God. He reminds us the active presence of God goes beyond “nearness” or a kind of vague awareness that God is working in the world. For Thurman, to say “God is here” is to confess God is trustworthy and present in every aspect of our lives. This divine “hereness” is the bedrock of our faith.
SHEA: If we’re walking through Lent’s desert with Howard Thurman, we’re going to have the pleasure—and intense challenge—of finding God in unlikely places, at moments when it feels like God is everywhere and other times when it seems like God is nowhere.
TIM: I pray this will be a life-changing Lent for us all.
Join us each Thursday night in Lent as we travel with Howard Thurman. To make the most of your experience, we recommend picking up 40-Day Journey With Howard Thurman (Augsburg Press, available at amazon and other online book retailers). We meet every Thursday at 7:30pm, in the Resource Room of Pilgrim Congregational Church, 460 Lake Street, Oak Park.
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.