by Rev. Lori Tapia, National Pastor of Hispanic Ministries -
Have you ever been so excited to be around a group of people? Maybe it was for worship, for a get together, or a barbeque. Do you remember the excitement as the time was getting closer and you were preparing to gather with this particular group of people? There is something special that happens when we gather with friends, family, and loved ones. When we gather, we bring ourselves into an environment that is about the sum of all those present, even when the gathering is around a not so joyful experience or with a group of people who are extremely different from you.
You see, the concept of gathering is one that Jesus understood well. He gathered his disciples in secluded spaces, around meals, to teach, to pray, to stand for injustice, to heal, and to forgive. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 18, the Disciples are questioning their status, position and power. However, Jesus teaches them that the children matter and theirs is the kingdom and warns against causing the little ones—those who believe in him—to stumble. He speaks of the parable of the lost sheep and the pastor’s love and willingness to leave the ninety-nine to seek one. Jesus gathers in this teaching moment with his disciples and expresses that “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them (v. 20).”
The power of gathering is not only for the feel good, loving moments of spending time with loved ones, but it is also vital for the collective anointing in the fight for justice and equality. We gather to march. We gather to pray. We gather around the Lord’s table to remember the work done on the cross and through the resurrection that binds us together as the body of Christ. The powerful setting that Jesus instituted with the disciples on the evening he was to be betrayed gives us a gathering place to share in the carrying of one another’s burdens. It is a place where the diverse tapestry of humanity can gather as one body, equally connected to the vine, and empowered through the Holy Spirit. The word gather is understood in this context “to convene, to bring together, to assemble;” yet the word gather is also used “to speak of the harvest.”
As the body of Christ, we are also reminded of the importance of coming together to gather the collective blessings from God, to reap in the glory of corporate worship, to love one another, and share in the joy and mercies of the Lord which are new every morning. To gather is to come together, yet to gather is to reap harvest. The Gospel is about relationships, which is strengthened when we gather. As you move through you day, may you meditate on being intentional as you gather with others in every walk of life, work, home, and community, so that you may be a beacon on light and hope through the love of Jesus.
Rev. Lori Tapia
National Pastor for Hispanic Ministries