Where are we located?
Grace Church is located at 360 Hopkins Road in Kernersville, NC.
Grace Church is located at 360 Hopkins Road in Kernersville, NC.
Grace hopes that you are warmly greeted and welcomed. If there is anything that can be done to be better at that, please let us know.
This Sunday marks a turn in the church calendar from Epiphany to Lent. Here's how you can mark the turn as well.
Grace Presbyterian Church longs to make the amazing grace of the good news of the gospel known. As we look at the brokenness around us, in our relationships, work, world, and even our own hearts, we oftentimes are left asking, Who will make this right…who can make me right? The good news is that though we are unable to fix, mend, and heal, God is both able and willing. GPC is not a place of people who have it together, but rather a place of those who are seeking God’s amazing grace.
Wherever you find yourself in this journey, we will walk with you as God transforms us together and magnifies his grace in and through us.
Pastor Randy Edwards
In the life of the church, this weekend marks a culmination and begins a turn. For many congregations, the season of Epiphany concludes this Sunday which is the last Sunday before the season of Lent. The readings of many congregations will include Matthew 17:1-9 which tells of the events of the Transfiguration — a mystical and powerful event in which Jesus’ glory is revealed to his disciples “…and he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light” (Matthew 18:2). During Jesus’ transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus, and in Luke’s account of the same event, Jesus spoke with them of his own exodus or “departure.”
The Transfiguration marks the turn in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. For, from this moment on, the tension in the gospels increases and Jesus confronts the unbelief and resistance of Israel’s leaders. As he presses on their lack of faithfulness, Jesus presses forward to Jerusalem and ultimately the work he came to finish on the cross and in his resurrection.
Following Epiphany, the church has historically marked the season prior to Easter with a 40 day fast called “Lent.” As if to mirror Jesus’ fast and temptation in the wilderness or his pressing to Jerusalem and the cross following his Transfiguration, many Christians begin the season by confessing (or “shreeving”) their sin on Shrove Tuesday and humbling themselves by being marked with ashes on Ash Wednesday. The GPC Lent Brochure is available for you, if you’d like to learn more or seek out some resources as to how you may want to mark the season.
At Grace Kernersville, we will be marking the season several ways.
Though marked with a somberness, I have come appreciate marking this season with Grace and with the community. I hope you can join us!
As I look at my calendar for the next week, I see that there are a number of opportunities to learn and grow as disciple of Jesus through the ministry of gifted speakers and ministers.
Firstly, Rev. Darin Stone who serves with Mission to North America’s Ministry to State will be preaching at Grace Kernersville this Sunday during the worship time. Darin and his family are a beloved part of Grace’s church life and have been a means through which the Lord has blessed Grace Kernersville. Ministry to State seeks to bring the light of Jesus Christ into government communities. There are many in public service who need encouragement in their walk with Christ, and there are those who are seeking and need to hear of the kindness of our Lord. If you get a chance reach out to Darin, ask him how you may pray for him and support his ministry.
Secondly, this weekend is the annual Forum of Faith and Culture hosted by First Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem, February 14-15. This years guest speaker is Dr. Bruce Hindmarsh, who is the James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. Dr. Houston’s theme this weekend is, Put Out Your Nets Into Deeper Water: An Invitation to Prayer. You may see the schedule HERE.
Lastly, Dr. James K.A. Smith will be speaking on Tuesday, February 18 at 12:30 in the Goodson Chapel at Duke Divinity School. His topic, Augustine and the Art of the Confessions draws from his recently released book on Augustine’s Confessions, On the Road with Saint Augustine, a book I highly recommend.
I hope you are taking time to allow the words of good news and wise counsel to find their place in your heart and to grow.
February 7-9 is Grace Kernersville’s annual mission weekend. This year’s theme is Mission 20/20. The missions committee has been hard at work planning, and there are lots of opportunities to participate and learn about all that God is doing.
Here’s what’s in store…
Friday, February 7, 6:30-8:30pm: Edu-Eating!
Join us as we have three guest speakers in three different rooms. Attendees will split into three groups and rotate through the rooms. Our guests will be Chuck & Jimmie Lynn Linkston (Australia, and Asheville), Daryl & Leah Burnett (Mozambique), and Gary & Ashley Helms (London, England). This is a family event! Following our moveable feast, we will meet in the sanctuary and enjoy dessert and making music.
Saturday, February 8, 1:30-4:00pm: Out of the Garden Project. GPC volunteers will be participating in food truck grocery distribution. Volunteers will meet at Allen Middle School at 1108 Glendale Dr, Greensboro. You must have signed up by Wednesday, February 6 in order to participate in this project.
3-Event Sunday, February 9
9:30am, Grow in Grace (Sunday School hour) — Brunch with guest speakers Glenn & Leah Ruth Blauser from JAARS.
10:30am, Morning Worship — Missionary Daryl Burnett will be preaching. Children’s worship and older primary ages will be with Sandra Hart. Special time of prayer for our speakers.
Noon, Sunday Lunch, please stay after worship and enjoy some table fellowship in the fellowship hall. The Missions Committee is providing sandwiches and chips.
This Sunday is February 2. In the U.S., we will mark the day in several ways. The first way for most of us is that Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday. It’s been fifty years since the Kansas City Chiefs have made an appearance. (No pressure, but this is a big day for some.) Concerning food consumption, Super Bowl Sunday is a feast day which ranks second only to Thanksgiving. The Football season which began in August finds its consummation in the Super Bowl.
This Sunday is also Groundhog Day. In years past, AMC, taking a cue from TNT, showed the Bill Murray film, Groundhog Day, over and over throughout the day. Ironic, eh? Word on the street is that Bill Murray is reprising his role as Phil Conners for a Jeep Super Bowl commercial. Talk about a consummation of American institutions. It seems so right. What else would you do when Groundhog Day falls on Super Bowl Sunday? You’ve just got to bring them together.
It all seems a little curious to me. Why does it feel right to bring memory and festival together? To me, it seems that the desire to celebrate is wrapped up in our humanity. We remember anniversaries, and we celebrate the fulfillment of seasons. We are a people who are compelled to mark time.
This Sunday is also a holiday in the life of many churches throughout the world. The holiday is Candlemas. Candlemas is the 40th day after Christmas Day and marks the day when Mary was declared ceremonially clean after having given birth. But more importantly, it was the day that Joseph and Mary paid the redemption tax of the first born. You can read about the events that day in Luke 2:22-40.
Aside from the offerings made by Mary and Joseph, the couple and baby are greeted by Simeon and Anna. Of their interaction with Simeon, Luke writes,
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
The consummation on this day is not the consummation of commerce and performance, but of promise and fulfillment. There are many ironies that come together in this moment. Is this the sudden coming of the Lord to his Temple of which Malachi wrote?
So much comes together in the gospel of grace.
Here is a meditation on the events of Candlemas which I wrote a couple of years ago. In it I try and mark some of these gospel ironies. It is a sonnet entitled, “Suddenly He Comes” and can be found in my collection of poems entitled, Walking with Jesus. Happy Candlemas!
Borne in arms to his house as a pilgrim
The Anointed who’ll bear our salvation;
Redeemer redeemed with two young pigeons
For the desire and wealth of the nations.
Suddenly, he comes to those who waited,
The refiner’s fire, promised fuller’s soap;
Simeon and Anna, made young again
Seeing Israel’s consolation and hope.
Lord, in the light of Candlemas I see
In the heart of my own mid-winter way
You gave your wealth, to become poor for me
That I might be young and long for the Day
When the sudden shaking of your revealing
Dashes the proud, but the poor and pierced, healing.
The church calendar has entered into what is called Ordinary Time. This first patch of Ordinary Time is a brief period between the seasons of Christmas/Epiphany and Lent/Easter. A way to think about the first half of the church calendar is that the first half directs our attention to Jesus Christ: his incarnation, his making himself known, his life as fully man, his ministry in Galilee and Judea, his temptation, sacrifice, resurrection, and ascension. The first half has a lot of preparation, remembrance, and celebration. But between Epiphany and Lent is this little patch of green in the latter part of winter in which there is not much green. Why is that?
This brief patch too, mirrors the life of Jesus Christ. After Jesus is presented at the Temple when Mary and Joseph pay the redemption tax for the first born (February 2), Luke writes in Luke 2:39-40, “And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him (ESV).” So you see this season marks an ordinariness in which people — even Jesus — went about their everyday lives doing what people do everyday. In fact we read nothing of Jesus’ life during this time except for his getting separated from his parents in Jerusalem as a young boy. We read next to nothing of the next 33 years of his life until his baptism. Why is that?
It is good for us to remember that just because we don’t think anything of significance is taking place that nothing is in fact, taking place. Growing and dying continues. Though these normal, everyday, days are not marked with great parties or feasts, it doesn’t mean that God is not at work. He is always at work.
Secondly, it is comforting for us to remember that Jesus is not only a savior of the extraordinary. He is savior and present in the every day. He had to learn to tie his shoes, wash dishes, clean up after work. He spoke casually with neighbors and endured the waiting until the time was right. His being able to help those who are being tempted includes not only the big temptations but also the small irritations or long-suffering of waiting. That helps me. I pray it helps you too.
Here are couple of reminders about upcoming events in the life of Grace Kernersville.
This Sunday at Grace Kernersville, we will be looking at the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Parables are stories that get inside us, and as we reflect upon them and seek to apply them, they grow. On its face, the parable seems to be a story in which Jesus’ questions ensnares a lawyer in the his own examination. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” and “Who is my neighbor?” In addition, of all of Jesus’ parables, the Parable of the Good Samaritan (aside from the Prodigal Son) is likely the most familiar of all. On the one hand, ones familiarity with the parable makes it harder to listen to. On the other hand, that same familiarity continues to tangle us up in Jesus’ questions, and in our sheepish guilt, we respond to the parable, “desiring to justify” one’s self. All that being said, let’s listen and let the parables work. The end result for those who lean in is such good news.
During the worship service on Sunday, Rooted in Christ will be offered for 3rd through 6th graders. Rooted in Christ is a monthly gathering in which students are learning about how the coming of Jesus Christ was foretold in the Old Testament, and they are making Jesse Tree ornaments which they will keep for themselves and for the church. Here’s what some of those ornaments looked like this past Advent and Christmas.
Lastly, the Kernersville Christian Minister’s Fellowship is participating in a Martin Luther King Jr Day celebration service hosted by Main Street UMC at 5pm on Sunday, January 19. Grace Kernersville will be taking Sunday Night Fellowship off so that people may attend the service. You may read more HERE
Artwork by Maximilien Luce (1858–1941), Le bon samaritain, oil on canvas, signed ‘Luce’ (lower right); signed again and dated ‘Luce 1896’ (on the stretcher)
This Sunday at Grace, we will begin a new series which will take us through Ordinary Time and Lent and up to Easter. As we move through late winter and spring, we return to the gospels as we have over the past several years. This year our focus will be on the parables found in the middle of Luke’s gospel. To get us started we will be looking at Luke 8 and the Parable of the Sower and the Seed. Though outside of the section we will be focussing on, it provides a good introduction to the parables and serves as a bridge from Epiphany to Ordinary Time.
The Parable of the Sower includes some statements which for some may be troubling. In Luke 8:9,10 we read, “And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’” The troubling part is that the parables’ purpose seems to be to obscure and hide the plain declaration of the coming of the Kingdom of God and its King. However, the irony is that every person who reads, hears, or is told about Luke 8 is invited into the inner circle of the twelve disciples in order to hear its meaning — if only we will listen.
Over the next two months, let’s lean in and listen to the stories which Jesus tells. Let us listen carefully to his words and let them, like seeds, find a place in our heart so that they may grow and bear fruit.
And speaking of fruit, another endeavor which I hope will bear fruit begins.
Friday evening kicks off a project led by the Almond Tree Artist Collective. Former GPC worship leader, Michael Kuehn, is leading an endeavor for artists and makers who would like to have a focussed project in which to work towards and/or collaborate over the next year based on Psalm 139. You can hear all about it on Friday night at 6:30pm at the church building where you’re invited to learn more about the project. If you have questions, please reach out to me or Michael Kuehn. More info is provided via the link to the Facebook event page above.
Lastly, lots of gatherings and opportunities begin over the next week too. Don’t forget…
GriefShare begins Monday, Jan 13 at 6:30. You may read more HERE.
Ladies Bible Studies are getting underway next week. See the opportunities below.
I hope this New Year finds you well!
At Grace Kernersville, we continue to celebrate the season of Christmastide, but we will also be entering into the season of Epiphany (which is January 6). GPC’s Sunday school hour on January 5th will be given to acknowledging Epiphany and learning more about the holiday and season. In addition, this Sunday’s Sunday school is a family-wide event, and we will have activities for young and old.
A way to think about these two seasons and their relationship with one another is to imagine the difference between Christmas as a day and the practice of giving and opening presents on Christmas. Epiphany is the day in which the church remembers opening the gift of Christmas. The magi give gifts upon visiting the Christ-child, and the church gets to open the present of the coming of Jesus Christ. “Epiphany” itself means “manifestation”. In other words, Epiphany is like a revelation. As the church celebrates Epiphany, we recall those events when Jesus first manifest himself as the Christ — whether with the wise-men who sought the “King of the Jews” or in his baptism when the Voice spoke from heaven or when he performed his first miracle in Cana of Galilee.
This Sunday is also the first Sunday or Lord’s Day of 2020 and that means that we start over in our annual running through the Heidelberg Catechism during the worship service. You may learn more about the Heidelberg Catechism HERE.
The Heidelberg Catechism is divided into three parts: our estate of sin and misery, the means by whom we are delivered from sin and misery, and how we may live in gratitude for this deliverance. In addition, the Heidelberg explains the content of our Christian faith by helping us understand what the Apostle’s Creed teaches, how we obey God by living obediently according to the moral law, and what we mean when we pray the Lord’s Prayer.
Here are a couple of reasons why I like the Heidelberg Catechism.
This Sunday’s first question and answer is one of the most appreciated in the entire Catechism as well as among all Protestant catechisms. It asks and answers:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.
That’s not a bad way to start the new year. You may access the version of the Heidelberg Catechism which Grace Kernersville uses HERE.
And finally, the artwork which accompanies the post is by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882), the brother of poet, Christina Rossetti. The painting is titled, St. John Comforting the Virgin at the Foot of the Cross. In Rossetti’s depiction of the event, I imagine that Jesus has just spoken his last words to Mary, “Woman, behold your son.” This beholding is not merely directing Mary to the Apostle John who would take her into his home, but it mirrors his words to her at the beginning of John’s gospel. In John 2 Jesus is asked to come to the aid of those throwing the wedding feast because the wine has run out. Jesus speaks to her saying, “Woman, was has this to do with me? My time has not yet come.” Several years ago I attempted to capture this interaction and its connection with John 19:25-26 via a sonnet.
Finding us outside as we waited on
Our master who brought us to the wedding,
His mother, not asking, telling her son
The shameful news the bridegroom was dreading.
“The wine has runout,” in question she eyed
Looking for what he might say and do.
“Woman, what’s that to me? My time’s not arrived.”
To the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
It’s been three years since he turned water to wine;
We stand at the foot of his crushing shame
Twisted round a stake like vintner’s vine
Is her son who saved a bridegroom’s good name.
“Why?” pours from her eyes in sobs overcome,
The wine saved for last, “Woman, behold your son.”
© Randall Edwards 2017
We will be looking at John 2:1-11 as a part of our recognition of Epiphany. I hope to see you Sunday. Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Have you considered attempting to read through the Bible in a year? In years past Grace Kernersville has used Scottish pastor and missionary, Robert Murray McCheyne’s reading plan. You can read more about it’s beginning HERE.
Also, the ESV Bible app is another good place to find a reading plan which you may access via their smartphone/tablet app or via their website HERE.
Or maybe you’d like to sit and listen to someone read the Scriptures and possibly gather others to listen with you. A program and app entitled, The Public Reading of Scripture is available HERE.
These are just a few ideas. If you have others, let us know! Happy New Year!
Before I get to this weekend’s service, I’d like to remind all that GPC’s Sunday school hour is off until January 5, 2020 when we will have a Family Sunday school hour on the topic of Epiphany. January 5 is the 12th day of Christmas, and January 6 is Epiphany. I hope to see you at 10:30am for worship and the Lord’s Supper on December 29th.
On the subject of the 12 Days of Christmas, you may enjoy listing to how the twelve days of Christmas were celebrated in this region in previous years by listing to Paul Brown’s episode on Across the Blue Ridge, entitled, “Breaking Up Christmas.”
This Sunday, we begin a three week series for the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany entitled, We Beheld His Glory. On Sunday the 29th, we will be looking at Matthew 2:13-23. Traditionally on December 28 the church remembers Herod’s killing of the children in the region of Bethlehem which leads to the flight of Mary and Joseph to Egypt. We will be looking more closely at Joseph and how his life mirrors another Joseph whose actions led to deliverance.
My favorite depiction of the flight to Egypt is painted by Henry Osawa Tanner. You may enjoy reading this article about Tanner and his painting HERE.
It’s still Christmas!