“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here together today to get through this thing called life.” Yes, when I think of the word “gather,” my mind immediately goes to Prince and the song Let’s Go Crazy.
I can still do the choreography from the fashion show back in the ’80s when everything was choreographed, all hair was huge, and shoulders were most powerful if padded. The dance moves included jumping down a flight of stairs in fog.
If you would have told me then that in 2021, gather would be my word of the year, I would have laughed (especially if you also told me I would be inviting others into the yearlong journey via a tiny computer held in my hand that connected me to the world and Chick-Fil-A). And yet, there’s something so intriguing about walking through twelve different meanings of gather and allowing those meanings to give fresh purpose to a word that seems commonplace and maybe even predictable. I’ll be sharing scripture and stories and encouragement right here, as long as this tiny computer and the internet offer their support. Words of the year have always been more of a backdrop for me, so I ask forgiveness in advance if things get wombly or stumbly along the way.
I’m beginning the journey with the meaning “assemble.”
This sign hangs on the wall in my office, a gift from the Jamaican Christian School for the Deaf and my best friend. She painted a new sign for them years ago, and they said she could bring this one home. She knew how much Miss Mary and the students mean to me there, and how much I learned about language and real community and what it means to really use our voices with every visit. It’s this sign that is raised high like a banner when the students need to gather. It’s this sign their eyes are trained to see no matter where they are on campus. It’s this sign that promises comfort, safety, provision. It’s this sign that says, “let’s gather here—because we are better together.” The students may not hear a voice, but they hear the clarion call.
Assemble means to bring together, to fit together, to congregate. And congregate means to unite together, like a flock of birds. I think about the Lord raising His banner high. “Gather here, love. Gather here.” Gathering us from every land, every tribe, every nation, every language. His banner promises comfort, safety, provision. It says, “gather here – for we are better here.”
I want us to be that gathering place for others. I want there to be a banner over our heads that says, “Assemble here, for there is comfort, safety, provision.” And so, that’s my prayer this month as I walk this road—for you and for me. Here’s to the journey. We’re in this together, and I am for you.
I’ll be sharing stories and interviews with women from scripture and from the book One Woman Can Change the World and from neighborhoods near you and me over on Instagram as we take the journey of gathering. I’d love to see you there!