It’s Got to Be Real

Tim: Last week you led us through a very powerful study that paired the work of the Holy Spirit with the life of the community. That makes the discussion of worship this week a natural move.
Shea: It sure does. Worship has to rest at the heart of the community. Its primary purpose is to bring the Spirit and people together. That’s what makes worship transformative.
Tim: It’s an experience without equal. And virtually all the public rituals we enjoy—concerts, plays and movies, political rallies, even birthday parties—employ elements that originated in worship settings. Music, recitations, movement, adoration, symbolism… I could go on and on about how much of our lives are rooted in worship. Everything starts there.
Shea: Really? That’s quite a claim.
Tim: Think about it. We built temples long before theaters and coliseums. Our compulsion to gather arose from a shared longing to declare the greatness of God and entreat God’s care. So worship is a primal drive, even though we still aren’t very good at getting it right.
Shea: We’re definitely challenged in that arena. Why do you think that is?
Tim: We keep getting hung up on what’s “acceptable.” And—surprise, surprise—it always works out that our brand of worship is what God likes most. Remember: scripture tells us humanity’s first descent into violence wasn’t about money or sex. Why did Cain murder Abel? Worship.
Shea: And we’ve been killing each other over worship ever since.
Tim: Literally and spiritually. I meet people all the time who are the casualties of self-appointed “worship cops” who patrol whose worship is or isn’t acceptable. Of course they’ve got all kinds of excuses to back up their theories. What they don’t have is an understanding that real worship comes from the heart and that’s what makes it acceptable.
Shea: Jesus called it “spirit and truth.”
Tim: Exactly! If you aren’t spiritually alert and self-honest, your worship won’t be real. Over and over, the Bible insists realness is what God wants. The fault in Cain’s worship wasn’t the sacrifice; it was the pretense behind his offering. His assumption it was better than Abel’s made it deficient. Pride and self-centeredness corrupted his worship.
Shea: So how do we avoid that as Gather forges its worship culture?
Tim: We have to reclaim the reality of worship: its boldness, its Spirit-led power, its responsiveness to God’s movement in our lives, its relevance to our own truth. We do that by following David’s example. When Israel’s enemies stole the Ark, David said, “We’ve got to get it back.” I pray that’s what will happen with Gather. I pray we’ll keep it real and stay committed to bringing true worship back home for folks who’ve lost touch with God and the experience of God. That’s what we’ll be talking about this Thursday, in our very first worship experience. It’s not something you want to miss!

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 31: 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!