God’s Vision and Our Vanity

Shea: We’ve come a long way in our study of Mark’s Gospel, from the exciting early days of the Jesus Movement when miracles were happening all the time with the only complaints coming from the religious establishment.
Tim: Of course, we know what’s going on there.

Shea: Jesus is a real threat to them, not only in terms of his popularity. But his theology—his kingdom of God idea—poses a big problem, because God’s kingdom is beyond their control.
Tim: It’s mustard seed logic. The movement is going to take root in unlikely places, spread wherever it wants to go, and in the process it’s upsetting all the order the Pharisees and priests and scribes have worked so hard to create. All their vain attempts at piety and purity are going sideways.

Shea: For starters, Jesus is including everyone: Jews, Gentiles, men, women, adults, children, all religions, clean, unclean—the list goes on and on. What’s more the cancer of Roman imperialism is being contested. Longstanding rules and taboos are getting debunked. Now with Jesus heading for Jerusalem, Mark is building up to the big showdown. And it will not be pretty.
Tim: No, it won’t. So far, Jesus has been able to control the violence. Violent people have found freedom. Violent diseases have been cured. Violent storms have been calmed. Now Jesus informs his followers he will confront a violence so deadly it will put him in the grave. Temporarily, he says. But it will look like death and evil get the upper hand.

Shea: It’s hard for people to understand this, because resurrection is an abstract concept for them. It’s will be tough.
Tim: With the ministry literally going south there are a whole lot of tough questions to struggle with. I like your point last week about the blind man who doesn’t see clearly at first. Very little of what’s going on is clear anymore and the disciples do what many do when they don’t know what’s going on: they jockey for position. They’re looking for security and they can’t find it.

Shea: They say vanity is rooted in insecurity…
Tim: That’s why Jesus starts talking about children. “God’s kingdom belongs to people who are like children,” he says. Young people know how to tap into God’s vision. Experiencing everything for the first time disables their vain impulses. They have the kind of clarity Jesus wants his followers to have—a kind we need, particularly now, when clarity is in very short supply.

Shea: Hopefully we’ll get some this week.
Tim: First we’ll pray, then we’ll prepare, and finally we’ll see!

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!

Sunday, August 19: Gather will gather at Scoville Park to join our neighbors at a free concert. These concerts are always a joy and are designed to be family friendly events. So don’t miss this opportunity to mix and mingle with the fine folks of Oak Park. The concert begins at 5:30
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August 23-25 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.)

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.