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Where are we located?

Grace Church is located at 360 Hopkins Road in Kernersville, NC.

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Pastor's Blog: Grace Notes

Pastor's Blog: Grace Notes

This week’s sermon passage is from Isaiah 53, and it foretells of the coming of the Lord’s Suffering Servant. The Advent theme for the second Sunday is “love.”

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Welcome to Grace Presbyterian Church!

2012RandyEdwardsED2Grace 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

The Suffering Servant

GPC’s Advent theme this year is The Jesse Tree. Over the course of the past year, the older primary aged children have been participating in a class called, Rooted in Christ. In this class students have been learning how Jesus’ coming was foreshadowed in the Old Testament, and they have been making ornaments for a Jesse Tree which you may read more about HERE.

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This week’s sermon passage is from Isaiah 53, and it foretells of the coming of the Lord’s Suffering Servant. The Advent theme for the second Sunday is “love.” The candle we light in the Advent wreath acknowledges the love of God which is demonstrated in the coming of Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant.

Now, love is more than a feeling of affection. Though love often begins and continues with desire and affection, love is most often demonstrated rather than felt. We experience love in the lengths to which we go in order to love (oftentimes in the form of our own sacrifice) and in the lengths others go in order to keep loving us. You may read more about that kind of love HERE.

The amazing grace of the gospel is that God has gone to every length in order to save us. Being rooted and established in that love? Well, it’s apparently a power which can be ours if only as Isaiah says in Isaiah 53, we may see the significance of the ‘arm of the Lord’ and believe the message of His revelation.

What is Advent?

The word “advent” comes from the Latin word, adventus for “coming” and thus describes the first season in the church calendar year. It is observed as a season of preparation for what is the “Christ-Mass” — the service in which the coming of Emmanuel, God-with-us, is celebrated.

In today’s celebration Advent and Christmas are conflated into one season. Sadly, we miss an opportunity to prepare. Tish Harrison Warren, writes this weekend of the significance of Advent. The title in her article in the New York Times gets to the heart of it. “If you want to get into the spirit of Christmas, face the darkness.” You may read it here.

Many churches (and Grace is one), mark the season by lighting Advent wreath candles. The use of candles during the Advent season originated in Germany prior to the Reformation. Originally, there were only four Advent candles: three purple candles and one pink candle. The purple candles matched the purple paraments (the cloth that lays on the altar and the pulpit) and signified the coming King Jesus. (Purple is the color of royalty). The Pink candle is the third candle to be lit, and it is lit on Gaudate Sunday, (the third Sunday in Advent). “Gaudate” means “Rejoice!” in Latin, and is the first word for the traditional introit for that day which is taken from Philippians 4:4-5 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” The white candle or the Christ Candle was added later and obviously represents Christ and was to be lit during the twelve days of Christmas (Dec 25-Jan 5).

GPC follows a common practice of identifying each of the candles with a theme. The themes each week are: hope, love, joy, and peace. The sermon passages will pick up on those themes.

As you prepare for the celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ, you may want to look at these resources.
How December 25 Became Christmas.
Malcom Guite speaking on Advent.
Biola University’s Advent Devotional.

Could We But Stand Where Moses Stood

This Sunday we start the Christian year with the first Sunday of Advent. We will be marking the Sunday’s in Advent by lighting the candles of the Advent wreath. This tradition serves as a countdown to Christmas. The first candle in the Advent wreath is sometimes called the Hope Candle or the Prophecy Candle. “Hope” will serve as a theme of sorts during our worship service and sermon.

The experience of Israel in the Old Testament provides numerous stories in which the New Testament church understands her present circumstances. The two most common metaphors employed are that the church and the Christian are either sojourning in the wilderness as Israel did before entering the promised land or they are living in exile while awaiting the promised return. In either case the destination is the promised land where God’s people find their home and place in the midst of God’s creation and their hope fulfilled.

In the 1700 and 1800’s many song and hymn writers employed the metaphor of sojourning in the wilderness. Songs such as “I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger,” “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks, “Farewell My Friends I’m Bound for Canaan,” and “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah” all speak to hardness of life for those in the wild beyond Canaan and hope of home and place and rest.

This Sunday we will sing a re-tuning of an Isaac Watts hymn entitled, “There is a land of pure delight. Here are Watts’ lyrics as Red Mountain Music makes use of them in their re-tuning of his him. You may listen to their version below.

There is a land of pure delight
Where saints, immortal reign
Infinite day excludes the night
And pleasures banish pain

There everlasting spring abides
And never withering flowers:
Death, like a narrow sea, divides
This heav’nly land from ours

Could we but climb where Moses stood
And view the landscape o’er
Not Jordan’s streams nor death’s cold flood
Should fright us from this shore

O could we make our doubts remove
Those gloomy thoughts that rise
And see the Canaan that we love
With unbeclouded eyes!

Could we but climb where Moses stood
And view the landscape o’er
Not Jordan’s streams nor death’s cold flood
Should fright us from this shore

You may listen to the song on Youtube HERE.

The Jesse Tree

The Jesse Tree is a Medieval image or motif created to tell the story of the Old Testament’s fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ. It is often found in illuminated Bible manuscripts  as well as in many cathedral stained glass windows.

What does the Jesse Tree signify?

As the people of God awaited their messiah, Israel knew that God’s special king would arise from the house and lineage of King David. God promised King David in 2 Samuel 7:7-13 that, “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” In spite of the division of the Kingdom of Israel under King David’s grandson, Rehoboam, the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel to Assyria, the exile of Judah at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, their return from exile under Cyrus, and the four hundred years of silence between the Old and New Testaments, the people of God continued to hope in God’s promises to David through Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah:

 “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1-2). In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land” (Jeremiah 33:15).

“And say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD” (Zechariah 6:12).

Jesse Tree Advent Art Project

Over the past year and continuing through 2020, GPC students participating in Rooted in Christ are making use of the Jesse Tree to learn how Jesus fulfills the prophecies of the Old Testament. They have been making and will continue to make Jesse Tree ornaments to serve as an Advent calendar of sorts. GPC-er, Asher McClain, has designed and has added his own pyrography to a tree which will display these ornaments. Please take a moment to look at their work and see if you are able to connect the ornament’s design with the Bible story it signifies.

IMG_3838We hope this project will make your preparation and celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ who is the Son of David, God With Us!

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Christ the King

This Sunday is Christ the King Sunday and marks the last Sunday of the church calendar year. Christ the King Sunday is the culmination of the Christian year and celebrates the church’s hope that Jesus Christ shall return again to establish his Kingdom forever. The hope of Christ’s second coming is a consummation of sorts. The courtship begins with the promises of the Old Testament which are veiled in poetic prophecies. The sincerity of those promises are pledged by the gift wrapped in Christmas’ swaddling cloths; that gift is Jesus. The promise of rescue which God accomplishes through Jesus Christ is realized during Holy Week and Easter Sunday. The resurrection inaugurates the betrothal of our salvation which Jesus has secured, and the promises of that salvation are applied by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Since then, the church continues to await her wedding day when the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, returns to take his bride, the church, to be with himself. And so, Christ the King Sunday speaks not only to a promised event and to an orthodox view (as the Creed says, “[I believe]…he ascended in heaven, from whence he shall come to judge the quick and dead“), but it speaks to the fulfillment of our deepest desire: to enjoy the full-peace, beauty, and goodness of the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This Sunday at GPC we will also begin a new sermon series entitled, The Jesse Tree, which will also serve as our Advent series. I will share more about the Jesse Tree next week. This Sunday we will be doing double-duty as we look at kingship and particularly at King David. The events recorded in 1 Samuel 16 and 17 show us that the kind of king we want is oftentimes not the kind of king we need. It is so important for us to recognize the differences. We want a mighty man, but we get a shepherd. We want our choice, but we need a man whom God choses. We want someone who will lead us in victory, but we get a man who is a go-between for us. We want a king who will straighten others out, but we get one who takes away our shame and disgrace.

What will help us grow in our faith is to see the kind of king Jesus Christ is. Over and over again God shows us that his ways are not our ways. We will always be quick to co-opt the Kingdom of God in order to enrich or advance our own kingdom. It never works. Those who do so are constantly disappointed and mystified. Eventually, they lose interest and move to more profitable deities. We however, must be ready to receive him when he comes to us. We must be ready to humble ourselves. In fact, Jesus tells us in the parable, that he does and has come to us and often in many little ways, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me'” (Matthew 25:35-36). As we await his final coming, let us not miss the many ways he comes to us daily.

Happy Christ the King Sunday! It is a festival day for us to feast on God’s grace. Enjoy feasting on his promises and our hope.

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artwork: The Jesse Tree in the Lambeth Psalter, unknown English miniaturist, c.1140s

Grace in Ordinary: Daily Gratitude

This Sunday marks the end of what the church calendar calls Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time falls during two seasons in the calendar year. It first comes for several weeks in winter after Christmas and Epiphany and then comes again several months later to mark the season after Pentecost.

Ordinary Time is a season in which it seems nothing is happening. There are a few special days which come, but there are no special seasons or holidays such as Christmas, Epiphany, or Easter. I tell the children that when they see the green banners (aka paraments) in the church, they should remember that “green means grow.” By this time in ordinary time, the green is tiring, and the daily, weekly, monthly work of doing what the Lord and Christ has commanded as we await Jesus’ second coming, seems unending.

Experiencing the fullness of the gospel in the Ordinary may sometimes feel difficult. We like verbs or descriptors that are action words that speak of the special, radical, extreme, and powerful. Words or actions which speak of the every day such as duty, discipline, making your bed seem to wear us down. Ordinary just seems so ordinary, and who wants that?

A couple of those words which are ordinary words but which get pulled down into the mundane and unexciting of the life of waiting are “gratitude” and “thanksgiving.” Depending on when you hear the word it may be that you either ought to be more grateful or should be ashamed that you aren’t. And so we muster up the strength, rally our sluggish wills and write the note, send the text, or say the words, “Thank you.” Those moments seem a far cry from the flying high, powerful experience of the extraordinary.

The question we’re confronted with in Ordinary Time is, “Can I get to gratitude from where I am right now? In the wreckage of life, in the tediousness of details, and the pang of waiting, is there any way into gratitude which is full and humbling and joyful?” Psalm 75 gives us map, and we will be looking at the map this Sunday. I hope you can join us.

What’s Getting Started @GraceKville

As the school year get’s underway, there are a number of opportunities to get involved. Here is are a few events that are starting up @GraceKville in the next few weeks.

POTLUCKS IN THE PAVILION continue September 8 and October 27 rain or shine from 6:00-7:30pm in the church pavilion. Please bring a main dish and a dessert or side…and a dessert.

GPC WOMEN’S MINISTRY continues with morning and evening Bible studies on September 18th.

  • The morning women’s study will be working through, In His Image by Jen Wilkin on from 9:30am-11:30am at the home of Janie Hughes. The evening study will be reading Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin from 7:00-8:30pm at the home of Carla Collins.
  • Also, GPC women will be attending the PCA Women’s Conference, Hinged, in Charlotte on Friday, January 31 and Saturday, February 1. You may choose how many days you want to be involved, and it is open to ladies 13+. Registration starts September 1, and the women’s ministry will be registering as a group to take full advantage of the discount and ensure a place. Check out the website and feel free to speak to Randi Bechtold, Melanie Stone, Janie Hughes or Carla Collins with any questions. Please let them know you would like to attend by September 1.

SUNDAY NIGHT FELLOWSHIP begins September 15 from 6:00-7:30pm. Home Fellowship Groups are available for adults as well as programs for Primary ages through High School at the church building.

HIGH SCHOOL MORNING BIBLE STUDY begins Thursday, September 12 at 7:30pm. We will be looking at the parables of Jesus from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. If you need a ride to school, please let Pastor Randy know.

Pastor Randy will be leading LUNCH WITH LEWIS for six weeks at the Paddison Memorial Library on Tuesdays from noon to 1pm beginning September 10. We will be reading and discussing the fourth book in Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series entitled, The Horse and His Boy. Copies of the book are on reserve and may be checked out at the library. In addition, a group is gathering to attend the play, LEWIS AND TOLKIEN which is about their last conversation together. Lewis and Tolkien is coming to the Odeon Theater at the Greensboro Coliseum September 26-29. Pastor Randy would like to get a group together to attend a matinee on Saturday the 28 at 4pm at the discounted rate of $25 per ticket. Please let Pastor Randy know if you are interested by September 6.

GRACE HOUSE PRESCHOOL Fall Consignment Sale will be September 26, 27, and 28. See the GHPS website for how you may help and/or consign.

Twice Loved

1 John 4:16 tells us, “God is love.” A part of what this means is that at the heart of all things is love. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit relate in love, and the Bible is the story of how God invites us into that love. This is good news.

GPC’s summer vacation Bible school is scheduled for July 8 – 11, 2019 from 6:15 to 7:45pm at Grace Kernersville. This summer’s theme, Twice Loved, is drawn from Matthew 6:19-21 which reads,

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

VBS activities are offered for 2 year olds through 5th grade. The program will run from 6:15 – 7:45 pm. An optional dinner will be served from 5:45 – 6:05pm. You may register below. Please call Lori at the church office if you have questions.

The Annunciation

Today Christians around the world celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation in which the church remembers the moment in Luke 1:26-38 when Gabriel appears to Mary and announces that she is chosen to bear and deliver the Christ child, Jesus.

The Feast of the Annunciation is also nine months before Christmas — a connection lost on most, and is itself the reason December 25 was selected by the church and not an attempt to commandeer Sol Invictus or any other solstice celebration. Read more on how Christmas came to be December 25 from the Biblical Archeology Review.

The painting of the Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner is a favorite depiction. It is a striking portrayal. A young woman in her bed chamber interrupted in the midst of her prayers it seems. A banner hangs for privacy, yet its striking red and horizontal line coupled with the vertical angel and Mary’s own verticality draw a connection to a cross. The blue robe to the left is the traditional color in which Mary is depicted and which she has yet to take up. Mary Elizabeth Podles has a helpful article in Touchstone Magazine. but I think it is behind a paywall. The model for the painting was a Swedish-American opera singer named Jessie Olsson whom Tanner married a year later.

Two years ago, GPC worship leader, Michael Kuehn, wrote a song about the moment as a part of greater project called, Where Are You.

March 25 also marks another anniversary though fantastical and literary. For the Lord of the Rings crowd, this day marks the day when the Great Ring was destroyed in the fires of Mt Doom and Sauron was defeated.

Ashes to Eternity

Beginning today, Ash Wednesday, GPC will be installing its Lenten art exhibit, Ashes to Eternity. The artwork on display is a collection of  pyrography by Asher McClain, poetry by Pastor Randall Edwards, and abstract weavings by Jennifer Edwards. Each week and each Sunday and special day from Lent to Easter, additional pieces will be installed in order to visually mark our progress into the celebration of the resurrection. The themes which the artists have focused on are: ash, baptism, wilderness, temptation, pilgrimage, palm, love, rent, and resurrection.

If you would like to view or download the exhibit’s brochure which includes pictures of the artwork, poems, and descriptions, you may do so HERE.