Category Archives: Announcements

The Third Station: The Kiss

The third piece for the Lenten exhibit, The Stations of the Cross is based on Matthew 26:47-50 which tells of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus and is entitled, “The Kiss.” Artist Keaton Sapp offers an extraordinary image which starkly depicts the moment with its strong contrast of light and dark…intimacy and betrayal. Matthew 26:47-50 reads,

While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him.
Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.

The betrayal of Jesus in the Garden brings to full circle the story begun in Genesis 3. In Genesis, a serpent deceives with the promise of blessing: “You will be like God.” Instead what follows is cursing.  In Matthew 26 the betrayer comes blessing (a kiss) and sets in motion the second Adam’s curse by the crucifixion.

In no time during Jesus’ last hours, does he seem carried along by circumstances into an unknown future. “Friend,” he says, “do what you came to do.” Jesus is, in some great measure, in command of all that is taking place. The evil he will undergo, is an evil he has volunteered for, is one to which he has submitted himself.

Now, we all have experienced betrayal. The violation of person, being taken advantage of, being presumed upon, or being lied to are things common to us all. My initial reaction to Judas’s betrayal is one of anger. “How dare he!” It seems all to easy. We live in an age of outrage and self-justified anger. And though anger rightly acknowledges an understood trespass, I wonder if we avoid the reality of the the profound sadness of Jesus’ betrayal. Jesus says, “Friend…” How deep that must have cut. After three years of living with and walking beside Jesus — after three years of witnessing miracles and listening to his teaching, Judas is willing to turn Jesus in and for thirty pieces of silver.

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Lent 2020

February 26 is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning the forty day, season of Lent. If you count the days you’ll reckon that there are actually 46 days until Easter. The reason is that though is a season of repentance, preparation, service, and humility, nevertheless we are living life after the resurrection. The Lord’s Day, Sunday, is appropriately recognized as a day of rejoicing.

As you enter the season, there are several online resources you may want to make use of.

Biola University’s 2020 Lent Project is a daily devotional hosted online and sponsored by the Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts. You may sign up via email or visit the devotional website HERE.

Malcolm Guite will be posting daily on his website his own an other’s poetry and thoughts which are found in more detail in his Lent devotional, Word in the Wilderness. You may access his blog HERE.

PCA Pastor, Craig Higgins’ resource, “On Keeping Holy Lent” may be found HERE.

LenTree is an online devotional which offers one poem a day by George Herbert. You may find LenTree HERE.

You may access Grace Kernersville’s pamphlet on Lent, “Know My Heart” in the church foyer brochure rack on online here: GPC Lent Brochure.

Julie Canlis has a great talk, Lent to the Rescue, which you may view on YouTube HERE. And you may access a more detailed series she did for her church HERE.

In addition, Grace Kernersville will be blessed to have the work of artist Keaton Sapp hanging in our foyer as a part of a Lent art project. Keaton will be installing artwork each week as a part of his exhibit, Stations of the Cross. This installation will continue to Easter and will serve as a Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. We’ll be posting his artwork and commenting on the pieces each week on my blog, Backward Mutters of Dissevering Power HERE.

The Turn

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.

  • Firstly, in many of the houses that will fast through the Lent season, Shrove Tuesday is a day in which larders and pantries are emptied of their holiday leftovers — sugar, flour, butter, eggs, etc…. It must’ve seemed that the best way to do this expediently was to make pancakes. Some people call the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. For many it has become Pancake Tuesday. Grace will be hosting its own Pancake Tuesday dinner at 6:00pm in the Fellowship Hall on February 25. I hope you can join us.
  • Another way in which Grace members will be marking the season is through a weekly Tuesday book study at Noon at the Paddison Memorial Library in Kernersville OR a Wednesday evening potluck book study at 6:00pm in the Fellowship Hall on C.S. Lewis’ book, The Last Battle, which is the last book in his Chronicles of Narnia series. The Wednesday night study begins on February 26 and the Tuesday Noon study begins on March 3. Speak with Pastor Randy if you have questions. We’ll be reading three chapters a week, and we will begin with discussing the first three chapters.
  • Lastly, artist, Keaton Sapp will be installing an art exhibit through the season of Lent entitled, The Stations of the Cross. Beginning with the first Sunday of Lent and continuing each week through Easter Sunday, Keaton will be installing art work which will take us through the final day of Jesus’ earthly ministry. This exhibit will be completely installed on Easter Sunday. The exhibit will be used on Holy Thursday and Good Friday as a Stations of the Cross exhibit by which you may come, view the artwork, reflect on the accompanying scriptures, and remember what Jesus endured for us.

Though marked with a somberness, I have come appreciate marking this season with Grace and with the community. I hope you can join us!

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Words Can Grow

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.

Mission 20/20: Can you see what God is doing?

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.

 

Well, it’s Groundhog Day…again.

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?

  • Jesus, the holy, is borne to Jerusalem in his mother’s arms where one day he will bear a cross and our sins in his arms to Calvary.
  • Jesus, the Son of God, — the desire of nations — is redeemed with the poorest of offerings (two pigeons). One day, many days later, Jesus will be stripped to nothing, and he will redeem his people in the richest of loves with the greatest of sacrifices.

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.

Ordinary Time

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.

  • Lord’s Supper. On the last Sunday of each month, Grace Kernersville receives the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Grace welcomes all Christians who both profess faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation and who are baptized members in good standing of congregations that proclaim the gospel to participate and receive the Lord’s Supper with us.
  • Congregational Meeting. This Sunday following the worship service, Grace will hold its 2019 Year End Congregational Meeting and financial update and review. All are welcome to stay for the meeting. Please stay following the meeting for a sandwich lunch in the Fellowship Hall.
  • Mission 20/20: Grace Kernersville’s annual Missions Conference will be February 7-9.

Stories that Grow

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.

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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)

Sowing Words

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.

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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.
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