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 at Grace Kernersville, we will be looking at the Parable the Good Samaritan...
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
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!
At Grace Presbyterian’s Christmas Eve service, we heard of the the implicit connection which is drawn from the meaning of the name of Bethlehem (house of bread) and that Jesus is laid in a manger. In Jesus’ birth, Luke is showing us that the Desire of Nations spoken of in Haggai has in fact, come. In John’s gospel, Jesus makes the connection more explicit when he says in John 6:35-40,
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
I read this spoken word piece in which I re-imagined Jesus’ words and my own response in which you may listen to me read here. The text is below. Merry Christmas!
They asked him about the Bread of Heaven.
And so he told them:
“There’s no work that can earn it.
There’s no sin that can’t be overcome by it.
If you are in it you can’t resist it.
If you want it you won’t be denied it.
Moses didn’t give it.
He merely told them about it.
For it was the Father who gave them manna
And in a place they couldn’t make it.
And now, even as you hunger,
I am telling you that you are looking at it.
I am the bread come down from heaven.
The bread which nourishes,
Satisfies, sustains — upon which you can rely,
To which he testifies.
Don’t go spending your work and your toil on food that will spoil.
I am the bread.
The bread of all fulfilling,
The Cosmic Gospel-filling,
The fast-ending feast.
A table set for the least.
I have come to end the slow, hard, soul-famine
And give thrilling, life, joy, and peace.
And all fear ended.
I tell you, I am the bread of heaven.”
Now, are you hungry yet?
Do you want that filling?
Tired yet of that life you are killing yourself for
And your spouse and mother and father and friend?
He’s the bread come down from heaven.
The bread of God unleavened.
Pierced and scored in the furnace of affliction,
Bearing for us, God’s malediction.
Cursed for our benediction.
Given for you and your Cosmic Hunger-Thirsting.
Given for you–to you.
It’s him, I’m telling you.
He feeds, nourishes, satisfies, justifies, makes holy and does it solely.
The door is wide open. If to him you’ve been given,
Give in. He’s gonna win
‘Cause the Father has called you–the Spirit will draw you.
Believe in him.
Receive him. Look to him.
Are you hungry yet?
Afraid you’ve been left out of the feast?
Afraid you’re the least?
He said, “Whoever.”
That’s not you?
He said, “Whoever comes
I will never drum out of line — drive away.
Come while there’s time.”
“I am the bread of heaven,” he said.
“And it’s the will of him who sent me
That I should lose none of those he’s given me.
But I shall win for them a standing in eternity
One long, glorious Olympic victory.
Forever singing the anthem,
‘Worthy, worthy, is the Lamb that was slain!'”
Praise Jesus name.
His love-banner flying overhead in his house of wine.
The love we’ll proclaim and enjoy for all time.
Eternal banquet filling and life
And telling: we believed.
But with the angels shaking,
Stumped, a new breaking in a glorious humility
A person quake,
Shaking our heads, saying,
“Who would’ve believed, that he was the bread
Even for me?”
He said, “I am the bread of heaven.”
Do you hunger?
Do you wonder, “Will I ever be satisfied?”
Believe in the Son who is himself now alive
Even though crucified.
And even if you die or have died,
On that the last day you’ll be there
And full for time upon time
With the Bread of Heaven.
© Randall Edwards 2010.
This is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks
There are several changes to our normal routine this week at Grace Kernersville.
Firstly, please come and join Grace in a Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve at 7:00pm. The service is a service of nine lessons and carols and a brief message and is a great way to mark the day and celebrate together as we remember that darkness has not overcome the light and that the light of Jesus Christ still shines.
The church office will be closed December 24-26 and January 1. Please plan accordingly.
We expect the re-shingling of the roof to be compete on December 24, but please be aware that there may be equipment on site and use caution as needed.
There will be no Adult Sunday school on December 29. We resume our regular Sunday school schedule on January 5, 2020 which will also serve as a family Sunday school morning to gather to learn about Epiphany.
Have a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year!
The second Sunday of Advent brought our attention to the Promised Land which serves as both a promised home but also a metaphor for the church of the eternal home of God’s people. I write more about this in an earlier post entitled, Could We But Stand Where Moses Stood. Here, GPC artist, Adah Freeman has taken as her inspiration the image of the cluster of grapes brought back from the Valley of Eshcol in Numbers 13. As we move through Advent, we are to consider the longing for the place and reception of home, of abiding, of place, and most importantly, the abiding presence of God.
Take a moment and see what your imagination reads of the painting. How might you bridge from Numbers 13, grapes, the promised land to the coming of the Christ Child? You may read my take in the poem below.
When we returned from the land of flowing
Milk and honey — full and green and growing,
We carried the abundance, the grapes bursting
With the fruit-full promise: no more thirsting.
But then doubt set in, underneath a mumbling
That bubbled up to a fount of grumbling
The people, giants; their cities tow’ring
And a land full of enemies devouring.
Have we come this far only to die?
To be squashed? Skins left out under the sky?
How will the death of a generation
Bear the fruit: a promised, holy nation?
What pressing and crushing will remove our sin?
What life trod and poured, that we enter in?
© Randall Edwards 2019. This sonnet is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thank you. artwork: © Adah Freeman 2019, “Grapes” acrylic on canvas.
GPC’s Advent art project, The Jesse Tree, is being installed. New pieces are on display each Sunday. One of those pieces is a plywood sculpture of the Jesse Tree which I’ll be writing more about later. The other pieces are a combination of abstract art and poetry.
Why Abstract Art?
Representational art is often viewed as being inherently more worthy than abstract art. The seemingly inherit chaos of the art is viewed in some circles as refuting the idea of transcendent truth. This is false. All art abstracts at some level. The artists eye and imagination always works to communicate and focus. Every artist embellishes, adds qualities, or makes use of symbolism. Abstract art, however, does this with an abandon. The artist hands-over the painting’s meaning to the viewer, and in so doing, the viewer’s imagination becomes as important as the artist’s imagination in order to give the painting meaning.
How Do You Read Abstract Art?
There are several cues one may use to help read abstract art. Many abstract paintings have titles. The titles give you some clue as to the artist’s intent. Next, look at the colors and lines. How has the artist used line, color, and flow to communicate? Secondly, look at the larger context used. Is there a theme to the series? What sorts of references may the artist have been drawing from or which you are aware that may help you discern a meaning? Lastly, talk and share with others your ideas. Abstract art is about engaging the imagination and discovering meaning.
Each piece of art in this portion of the Jesse Tree project is accompanied by an ekphrastic poem. Ekphrastic poems are poems which are written in response to a specific piece of artwork. In ekphrastic poetry we are offered a view into the poet’s imagination as they dialogue with the artist’s work.
Here’s the first piece in the series. It corresponds to 1 Samuel 17 and the story of David and Goliath. The painting is titled, “Slingshot.” How do you read the colors? The lines? How can you derive a story from the painting about David’s struggle with Goliath? Because this is part of the Jesse Tree project, how does this relate to Jesus? How might who Jesus is and what he has done be brought to bear in the artwork’s meaning?
Here’s my attempt to read the painting in poetry. This poem too, is entitled, “Slingshot.”
Once the world was shining-new, golden-bright,
Untouched by shade or stain but brilliant-white;
Then an enemy came
To steal by dark deeds, claim.
The menacing darkness blurred, broke, and scarred—
Tore with violence, crossed, mangled, marred
The field of shimm’ring gold
Whence all was lost or sold.
The darkness continued to blur and streak,
Sent giants: Despair, Dementor, Defeat
Who laughed at our fear, scoffed,
Defied our Lord, and mocked.
But God’s Shepherd descended in between,
Went outside the camp where he was last seen—
For our glory-sealing,
Bearing stripes for healing.
He flung himself at death, and slew the Night
And with his arms he slings us up in life.
© Randall Edwards 2019. This sonnet is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thank you.
From the GriefShare website: “GriefShare is a friendly, caring group of people who will walk alongside you through one of life’s most difficult experiences. You don’t have to go through the grieving process alone.”
GRIEFSHARE is a 13 week group seminar focused on helping people learn how to understand their grief from the loss of a loved one or friend. A group will be begin meeting on Monday, January 13, 2020 at the church building. Weekly sessions will continue on Monday evenings from 6:30-8:30 PM. The last meeting will be Monday, April 6, 2020. If you think you may be interested in participating in this opportunity, or have questions about GriefShare, please contact Carolyn or Dick Clatfelter.
See more HERE.