Curtain Call

Shea: Lots of high drama in last week’s study from Mark 11. We had Jesus’s triumphal entry in Jerusalem, the cursing of the fig tree and the cleansing of the temple. After all of that, what do you do for an encore?
Tim: Mark’s brilliance as a writer shines brightest in chapter 12, because he brings back all the villains and gives them a curtain call. Everybody gets a final go at Jesus. What’s fascinating is how Mark does what a Broadway composer would do: he gives them theme songs that reveal what’s really on their minds.

Shea: Okay, I’ll bite. What do you mean?
Tim: The Pharisees and Herodians have been teamed up against Jesus since chapter 3 and, go figure, their last inquiry is all about politics (kind of funny when you think about it). The Sadducees haven’t even appeared in Mark until now. But they show up and, being the intellectual crowd, they ask a convoluted theological question that falls flat. Finally here come the lawyers to take their closing shot. They think they’ve got the ultimate brain-bender for this country rabbi who’s been causing so much trouble. Of course, it’s a legal question: What is the greatest commandment?

Shea: Isn’t it a little late in the Gospel for that?
Tim: So it would seem. The other Gospels weave it into lengthier discourse as part of the fabric of Jesus’s teaching. In Mark’s Gospel, the Great Commandment—love God entirely and your neighbor as yourself—is the very last lesson Rabbi Jesus teaches. Mark writes, “After that, no one dared to ask him any more questions” (Mark 12:34).

Shea: So this week we’re looking at final confrontations with the religionists.
Tim: Exactly. And Mark’s writer isn’t going to let them have the last word.

Shea: That’s why the final lesson is love God, love neighbor, love self.
Tim: What else could it be? But there’s a lovely touch in how Mark records this final interaction, one of those moments when your jaw drops at how elegant this book can be despite it’s rough-and-tumble style.

Shea: Feel like sharing what it is?
Tim: That’s what Thursday is for! See you then!!

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!

COMING SOON!

August 24-25 the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries Mid-West Regional Conference and Workshops will be held at Pillar of Love Fellowship United Church of Christ. On Sunday, August 26, Gather will join churches from across the Midwest to celebrate Pillar’s 15th Anniversary, with our own praise and worship team helping lead the service and Bishop Yvette Flunder delivering the sermon. This is not something you want to miss. Make sure you mark these dates! (See poster below; note we will be in our regular Thursday night mode on August 23 and join the Fellowship on the 24th.)

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.