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.
This Sunday marks the first Sunday of Advent. As we recognize the season, and prepare to celebrate the birth of the Son of David, Jesus. Grace Gallery will be installing artwork and poetry each week in our foyer’s gallery space. I am very excited about these artists and their endeavors. We will have pen and ink, pencil and graphite, acrylic on canvas, fiber arts, and who knows what else. I am excited to see what they have made.
The show is titled, O Come, O Come Emmanuel. It draws is inspiration from the Great O Antiphons from which the Advent carol by the same name also does. The O Antiphons are 8th Century texts written by and English monastic as a means to walk the last seven days before Christmas Eve. In each of the Antiphons you find an Old Testament prophecy referring to the coming of one who would set all things right.
The following artists are participating in crafting something, visual, written, or interpretive. They are: Hannah Lis, Sierra Smith, Sarah Stone, Jennifer Edwards, Timothy Bay, Phoebe Dell’Arena, Sophie-Earle McCraw, and Adah Freeman. Each artists has taken up one of the Antiphon themes and is responding to poems on the Antiphons which I have previously written. This dialogue between word and visual art is called ekphrasis which means to “draw out” or “tell out.” In addition, I have recruited my father-in-law, Ed Pilkington, who taught Theater and Speech at Applachian State for many years, to read the poems for us which you’ll be able to access online.
I can’t wait to see this all together, and I am so grateful to them for their hard work and beautiful art. I know you will be too.
November 22 marks the last Sunday of the church calendar and is the Feast of Christ the King. As it falls with Thanksgiving, the significance Christ the King Sunday is sometimes missed. Christ the King is the culmination of the church year. We have followed the life of Christ Advent to Pentecost, and we live the life of the church the second half of the year as we await in eager expectation for the return of the King of kings. Christ the King Sunday reminds us of that one hope we share.
With Thanksgiving we often sing (and we will this Sunday) “Come! Ye Thankful People, Come”. This hymn dovetails nicely with Christ the King Sunday, because it speaks of Lord’s harvest at the end of all things. Here are the lyrics from Henry Alford’s hymn.
Come, ye thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in,
ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide
for our wants to be supplied;
come to God's own temple, come,
raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God's own field,
fruit as praise to God we yield;
wheat and tares together sown
are to joy or sorrow grown;
first the blade and then the ear,
then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we
wholesome grain and pure may be.
For the Lord our God shall come,
and shall take the harvest home;
from the field shall in that day
all offenses purge away,
giving angels charge at last
in the fire the tares to cast;
but the fruitful ears to store
in the garner evermore.
Even so, Lord, quickly come,
bring thy final harvest home;
gather thou thy people in,
free from sorrow, free from sin,
there, forever purified,
in thy presence to abide;
come, with all thine angels, come,
raise the glorious harvest home.
This morning the Men prayed as we do each Friday morning. We have been reading through and praying through John’s gospel. Today we read John 10 about the Good Shepherd, the great theme of the Scriptures taken up by David, expounded on by the prophets, and fulfilled in Jesus. In a week of so much that is flying around, it is a great comfort to me. I hope it is to you as well.
Below is a sonnet written as a meditation on the Good Shepherd. It helped me to write it, I hope it will be a help to you.
By mid-morning, my circumstance it seems Has closed the door to friendship, joy, and rest And locked out of love, my loneliness leaves Me as a sheep lost, alone, dispossessed.
Without a shepherd or a sheepfold I Am left the afternoon to wander this waste, Make due only with life under the sky Live for myself, give no mercy, dis-graced.
Though evening comes, you leave all and seek The one sheep who wandered that morn away; Would you for me leave ninety-nine to keep And carry me home before the end of the day?
Leading through the door, lying down in the breach, Giving your life, I rest, breathe heavy, and sleep.
Pastor Darin Stone is Mission to North America‘s chaplain serving North Carolina’s Ministry to State. On Monday, November 2, Pastor Stone will be leading a prayer meeting at Grace Kernersville for our nation, our state, our elected officials, and the church in our time from 6:30-7:30pm. The service is open to the public but space is limited to 50 persons. Please register via Church Center HERE.
Pastor Stone preach at Grace in June. His sermon blessed our congregation, and I know it will still bless you. Click on the “chapter” marker in the video below to view his sermon.
Over the past two years, the older primary aged children have been working on an Advent Christmas project. They have been making Jesse Tree ornaments for their own Jesse Trees.
The Jesse Tree is a medieval motif which potrays the prophetic promise that from the stump of Jesse and new shoot would grow. The Jesse Tree depicts the descendants and sometimes even ancestors of Jesse to recognize their fulfillment in the true Son of David, Jesus.
Here is an example of a Jesse Tree taken from a 12th Century codex held in the library of the Lambeth Palace.
The Jesse Tree Ornament Project is coupled with Rooted in Christ so that students hear and see the single story of the gospel. The ornaments themselves are hung each day in Advent in much the way an Advent Calendar works. Each ornament signifies a specific Old Testament event, theme, or person which points to the coming of Messiah, the Christ.
Because we were unable to continue our project through the pandemic, children will be meeting each week instead of monthly as before. This will allow the children to catch up and finish their ornaments by Christmas.
For those unable to attend on Sunday morning, both the teaching time and the instruction on how to make the ornament will be videoed and posted online each week. You may pick up a packet from the church office the week prior to that week’s lesson, just let Pinkney Greene or Jennifer Edwards know that you are wanting one.
Here is this week’s lesson and the instructions for making the Moses and Ten Commandments Jesse Tree Ornament.
A link for this week’s lesson and questions may be found HERE.
A link for instructions on how to make a Jesse Tree ornament may be found HERE.
Grace is currently planning to resume indoor worship on Sunday, October 18 at 11:00am. At this time, we plan to limit space to 50, and we ask that you wear a mask and practice social distancing in the same manner as we have been practicing so far. Please sign up before hand via the Church Center App HERE.
In addition to the indoor service, Grace will offer Rooted in Christ for children grades K-6 in the Fellowship Hall. You may read more about this opportunity in This Week at Grace Kernersville.
Sunday School at 10 will continue as a hybrid class in which we will offer as both in-person and through Zoom.
The 11am service will be live-streamed and we will continue to offer the Lord’s Supper each week as we have the picnic shelter.
By October 18, it will have been 31 weeks. By most counts only five weeks shy of full term for many humans. This will be a big step and full of emotion for me personally. Let’s continue praying for one another for strength, protection, and wisdom.
The annual Will King Hughes Memorial Blood Drive will be hosted by Grace Kernersville on October 3 from 9:00am to 1:15pm.
You may schedule your appointment HERE or by going to redcrossblood.org. Enter the zip code 27284 and scroll down to Grace Presbyterian. We hope to see you there. Remember, you are giving the gift of life for those in need of transfusions or blood products.
You can read more about Will at the Will King Foundation website HERE.
If you’ve driven up Hopkins Road this weekend, you may have noticed a change as you’ve come to the church building. Grace has a new street sign! This has been close to a five year process, and I am very pleased with the outcome
The new church logo design captures the church facade, the peak roof, the copula, and the cross. Many visitors make comments about the building. They note how the building looks welcoming and inviting. People note how the sanctuary is central to the building’s design. No one, be they children or youth, are far from what is central: worship.
The church has been described as looking like and airplane or boat, and it is true that we are a vessel in which we travel from judgment into joy. We are a lighthouse to the community which the copula pictures for those who drive by along Hopkins each evening as light shines through the copula’s oculus. Lastly, the cross is at the center and is exalted to the highest place. Grace is and Grace desires to be all about the cross.
Prominent on our sign is the word, “Grace.” Grace is all about grace! Our mission statement reads: “Grace Presbyterian Church longs to see the grace of God magnified as He transforms us into: a community that worships, witnesses, and walks in love.” Grace is central; the grace of God is magnified.
In addition we also chose “Kernersville.” This is not to the exclusion of those who don’t live in Kernersville, but sets us apart from all the other “Grace” churches in our area. In addition, our church website and social media accounts identify us as Grace Kernersville. When I identify which Grace church we are, I usually find myself saying: Grace in Kernersville. We are about Grace, and we are in Kernersville. We are here to stay with Kernersville. Incarnational ministry is in our DNA. That Jesus Christ came to dwell among us is a truth reflected in how and why we do the ministry which we do.
Through the month of September Grace Kernersville will be transition its Church Data Management software to Planning Center. Planning Center will allow us to more efficiently track and maintain membership information, plan worship services, process online giving, sign up for events, and manage ministry teams and groups within our congregation.
In addition, an online Directory is available. Over the next week, the leadership will be contacting the congregation about how to login and download the smartphone app, Church Center. You may view Grace Kernersville’s Church Center Site HERE.