Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

I hope you’ve already been encouraged and challenged by our Peacemakers series. This past Sunday we heard from Dave Brubaker, a leader in helping churches and organizations work through their differences and pursue peace together. You can listen or watch Dave’s message, Dealing with Difference in the Body of Christ (2 of 4), at our website, or at the Grantham Church Podcast via iTunes. You can also view his slides from the 9:00 Learning Community under Worship Resources. Dave offered practical steps in navigating disagreements we encounter in our relationships. Helpful stuff!

In the worship service we watched a video of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at Eastern Mennonite University. This is the first of three ministries that our Peace Sunday Offering will help support this year. You will be introduced to the second ministry this Sunday during the offering. Next week I’ll be sharing the last of the three in a summary of how our ingathering offering will help further peacemaking near us and around the world. This summary will help you come prepared for how God is calling you to give on Peace Sunday, January 27.

This Sunday we have another guest speaker with us! Osheta Moore, Outreach and Teaching Pastor at Woodland Hills Church, and author of Shalom Sistas (Herald Press), will be sharing in the 9:00 am Learning Community (Not Your Typical Peacemaker), and then again at 10:30 am in the Worship Service. In a message entitled, We Will Tell Better Stories, Osheta will challenge us to use the internet and social media for peacemaking and furthering the Kingdom of God. How do keep from adding to the noise? How do we rise above the vitriol and the outrage? Osheta intends to reveal steps that move us forward.

Once again, let me encourage you to be intentional in how you’re applying this series to your personal life and your relationships. Some of our sermon-based small groups are already meeting this month and using the discussion questions (provided with each sermon at the website) to dive deeper. That’s a good way to respond, but you can also find other ways to engage with the content. You could meet with a trusted friend or a group of friends for conversation over coffee, talk to your spouse and/or family members about what you’re thinking, pray about it, reflect and meditate on relevant Scriptures while listening to this moving song, meet with a member of our pastoral staff, follow up with deeper study/research/reflection, etc.

Remember, God is always speaking. If we want to experience the fullness of his life, we must listen and respond in obedience, aligning ourselves with his good and perfect will for our lives. I hope you’ll join me in drawing closer to Christ in our Peacemakers series, so that we can be used to bring more of heaven to earth. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to grow into the people God’s called us to be.

May God bless you this week as you live into being peacemakers in an age of outrage.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S.  As you know, this past weekend we saw some wintry weather, and it’s very possible that we may see a more intense storm this coming weekend. Please stay tuned to your email, our website, and social media for an announcement related to the worship service on Sunday. If we have to cancel the morning, the office will be letting you know as soon as we’re able to make that call, likely on Saturday afternoon/evening. Also, if we have to cancel the service, we will find a way to get the content for the Learning Community and the sermon to you so that we can all benefit from Osheta’s ministry.

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

We’ve entered another year at Grantham Church! This is the third year in a row that we’ve started the new year off with a peace focus, designating the last Sunday of January as our annual Peace Sunday. The first year we sought to heighten our awareness for racial reconciliation in our society. Last year we reflected on the inherent worth of every individual, particularly the most vulnerable among us. For January 2019, our Peace & Social Justice Commission has helped to plan what we hope to be a very practical series on being people of peace in our everyday lives.

Peacemakers: Living Peacefully in an Age of Outrage (4-week series) began this past Sunday at 9:00 am with our own Eric Seibert leading a combined Learning Community in a discussion that invited us to consider alternatives to physical violence. In our 10:30 am worship service, I delivered the first sermon in the series, a message entitled, Beyond Sticks & Stones: The Power of Words. I challenged us to tame our tongue by letting God deal with our heart, so that we might bless all those made in his image. If we’re going to be peacemakers, this is where peace begins: by giving attention to our hearts.

As we continue through this timely series, I want to clarify something as it relates to the subtitle of this series. There is such a thing as “righteous” anger, as opposed to much of the “outrage” that we see today. If you’d allow me to say a little more than I normally do in my letter, I’d like to expound on this a bit. Thanks for taking the time to read and process.

Ed Stetzer, author of the new book Christians in the Age of Outrage (which is one of the books on the Peacemakers shelf in the lobby), helps us in chapter 4 to distinguish the difference between the two. Stetzer points out that God (Jesus) gets angry at a number of things, including rebellion, immorality, hypocrisy, corruption, oppression of the poor, etc. Yes, God is love, yet his love is a holy love (i.e. morally pure & set apart from his creation).

Therefore, there is a reaction in God when human beings choose sinful behaviors and practices that diminish, degrade, and destroy his good creation. That is why those who oppose his divine will for the world will experience his wrath. I encourage folks to think of “wrath” as being the natural consequences of our sin—it’s built into the very fabric of the cosmos. So, God’s anger or wrath looks much different than what we’ve often imagined, as we mistakenly assume he is like us.

Consider this: anger indicates something is wrong. But unlike us, God’s anger is always in response to the wrongs in the world, not born from the wrongs within himself (e.g. sin, pride, brokenness). Instead, God’s anger is “righteous” because of his holy character, and because his motivation is always perfectly loving and aims to redeem. We are then responsible to cooperate with God’s redemptive purposes by confessing and repenting of our sin. In that way, God’s anger is controlled and focused on setting things right, and ultimately in restoring us to proper relationship with him and the world around us.

Think about it. Jesus, who shows us what God is like, was in total control of his emotions. Jesus didn’t fly off the handle, nor was he ever impulsive. He didn’t respond in what we call our flesh. While people are quick to point to Jesus’ actions in the temple (Lk 19:41-48), what Jesus did was planned prophetic theater as his audience would have connected this scene to the words and actions of Jeremiah and Isaiah, i.e. the temple will soon be destroyed. Jesus had been to the temple many times before. He knew what he would find there. This is not an example of Jesus in a fit of rage.

And as we see in passages like Mark 3, when Jesus got angry at the sin of oppressors, he simultaneously “grieved” the hardness of their heart (v.5). For Jesus to be saddened in this instance meant that he cared not only for the oppressed, but also the oppressor. His anger was like that of a parent who witnesses their older child bullying the younger (more vulnerable) child. He loves them both. And his words and actions prove that his anger is “righteous” (justified) and for the purpose of redeeming everyone involved, even those who are responsible for the suffering.

Therefore, righteous anger looks like that. As Stetzer says, outrage is disproportionate, selfish, divisive, visceral, domineering, and dishonest. Whenever our anger doesn’t look like the anger of God, it isn’t righteous anger, it’s outrage (hate). This is why James tells us to “be quick to listen and slow to become angry, for the anger of humankind does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). Instead, righteous anger rejects the impulse to right every wrong. We need to be self-controlled and use discretion. We must pray and think through our response before we speak, because our desire shouldn’t be to shame people and put them in their place, but that they would see their sin for what it is and repent.  And ultimately, we allow God to be the judge of everyone. We all will answer to him.

I hope that helps. Let’s be intentional about examining our hearts this week. What is God saying to you? What will you do about it?

Please join us this Sunday. Dave Brubaker will be with us in the Learning Community at 9:00 am (“Being Hard On Issues But Soft On People”) and then again in worship at 10:30 am (“Dealing with Difference in the Body of Christ”). Our series continues as we look at the polarization in our culture today, and consider how God wants us to navigate our disagreements with others, particularly in the church.

Finally, don’t forget that this is Prayer Week for the BIC US. If you’re able, I encourage you to go through our Prayer Walk here at Grantham Church. Just drop in during office hours, pick up a prayer guide, and walk around the building as you pray for the various ministries of our church. Let’s start the year off right, as we trust that God wants to do more than we could ask or imagine, for the glory of his name (Eph 3:20-21). Have a wonderful week!

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S. We are preparing to reveal a new bulletin design on Sunday, February 3. Stay tuned! I’ll be sharing more about that over the next few weeks.

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends! We are coming back from Texas today, so please pray for my family as we travel.

This Sunday we are kicking off our January (Peace & Social Justice) series called, Peacemakers: Living Peacefully in an Age of Outrage.

Here is a summary of the series focus:

“We are living in tumultuous times in America. From political campaigns to nightly news, from social media to the dinner table, we are experiencing great division, strife, and polarization in our culture. And unfortunately, the church is often lured in to the fear-mongering, name-calling, and violent rhetoric that is typical of those who haven’t encountered the good news or who don’t know the love and grace of Christ. We can do better and we must, for Jesus calls his followers to be peacemakers and ministers of reconciliation. But is that even possible? And if so, what does it look like for disciples to disarm and deescalate the hostile world around us by pursuing peace? In our 2019 Peace & Social Justice series, we will turn our attention to how we can follow Jesus and live peacefully in an age of outrage.”

peacemakers.jpg

And here is the sermon series lineup for the month:

  • Sun, Jan 6 – David Flowers “Beyond Sticks & Stones: The Power of Words”
    Learning Community: Eric Seibert – Finding Alternatives to Violence
    * Communion in the worship service.

  • Sun, Jan 13 – Dave Brubaker “Dealing with Difference in the Body of Christ”
    Learning Community: Dave Brubaker – Being Hard on Issues, But Soft on People

  • Sun, Jan 20 – Osheta Moore “We Will Tell Better Stories”
    Learning Community: Osheta Moore – Not Your Typical Peacemaker

  • Sun, Jan 27 Peace Sunday – Shane Claiborne “Blessed are the Peacemakers: Reimagining the Church as Ministers of Reconciliation”
    Learning Community: Shane’s Story – From Evangelical Fundamentalist to Neo-Anabaptist Activist
    * Lunch and Q & A with Shane after the service in the fellowship hall. All are welcome to attend.

Please join us each Sunday at 9:00 am for a combined Learning Community in C8-12. As you can see, this series will focus on the day-to-day struggles we face in being peacemakers. It doesn’t get more relevant or practical than what we will hear in this timely series. I want to encourage you to start the year off right by devoting yourself to following Jesus as peacemaker.

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday. 2019 is going to be a great year at Grantham Church!

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S. Good news! We have filled two job positions that opened up at the end of 2018. I wanted to let you know that Jill Stauffer has officially gone from being a part-time Pastoral Assistant to being our full-time Office Manager. Also, Ed Mays has accepted the role of part-time Head Custodian at Grantham Church. Please congratulate them and show your support for Jill and Ed in these new roles.

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

We’re in the third week of Advent and we’re continuing to reflect on how God is Coming to us. This past Sunday we heard Pastor Kelly preach an excellent message on joy. It is entirely understandable that we experience sadness in a world that has yet to be released from sin and its bondage to decay, and we know that the Christmas season can be especially difficult for people. However, Jesus said that in the midst of our sorrow we can know a joy that isn't dependent upon circumstance.

In Signs of Joy (3 of 4), Pastor Kelly shared how we can know God's joy and why we should do things just because we enjoy them. If you missed the service, be sure to listen to Pastor Kelly’s message at our website or via the Grantham Church Podcast. Also, listen and be inspired by Sammy and Kyle Steele sharing how they see God at work in the world.

We’re now in the final stretch leading up to Christmas Day. Don’t forget that this Friday evening at 7:30 pm is Lessons and Carols with Friends, hosted by Doug and Heidi Curry. Lessons & Carols is a Christmas event tradition featuring the reading of Scripture and carol singing following the pattern established by King's College, Cambridge. Please invite friends, family and anyone you think would enjoy this service! Light potluck dinner at 6:30 pm for all who would like to join us prior to the service. RSVP and sign up at https://ttsu.me/lessonsandcarols18.

This Sunday I will be preaching on Signs of Love (4 of 4). Being the Sunday before Christmas, and the last Sunday of Advent, you can expect a robust service. In fact, Pastor Dave tells me that we will have more musicians on the stage than we’ve had in a long time. We will be led by the worship team, the choir, and a small orchestra. I hope to see you there. Invite your family and friends!

And don’t forget to make plans to be at our annual intergenerational Christmas Eve Service on Monday, December 24 at 6:30 pm. We will sing traditional Christmas carols, hear a short inspiring message, and end the service singing Silent Night by candlelight. It will no doubt be a special time together. Except for Easter Sunday, our Christmas Eve service is the highest attended service all year. That’s not only because your family and friends are in attendance, but also because it is one of the only services in the year that unbelievers, skeptics, and seekers come to church. Therefore, join me in praying for those who will hear the message of Christ and experience the worship of his people.

Finally, the Church Board met on Monday night and I wanted to update you on what was decided in the final meeting of the year. After you select new board members at council each year, the board is then responsible for choosing the board chair and vice-chair. The board has done that. Rebekah Basinger is the new 2019 board chair. Art Bert is the new vice-chair. Dave Warren is the treasurer and Cheryl Wolf is the secretary, as elected by the congregation. Also, note that Duane Asper will continue as the chair of the Property & Facilities Committee, and Dave Warren as the chair of the Ministry Support Committee. Please congratulate these men and women, and thank them for their service to our congregation. I’m very thankful for our leadership and excited about what is ahead for our church in 2019.

May God continue to bless our congregation as we close out a great year, and as we continue believing that God can do greater things than we could ever ask for or imagine, for the glory of his name and the furtherance of his Kingdom (Eph 3:20). Thank you, brothers and sisters, for your dedication to the mission of Christ. Let us now press on in the hope, peace, joy, and love of God.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S. I will be leaving for Christmas vacation on Tuesday, December 25. Please pray for my family as we travel to Texas over a busy holiday. Pray that our time together would be restful and without sickness. We will return after the New Year. I’ll be preaching the first sermon for our Peacemakers (Peace & Social Justice) series, beginning January 6. Stay tuned for more info about this exciting series!

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

We’re in the second week of Advent and we’re continuing to reflect on how God is Coming to us. This past Sunday we looked at Signs of Peace (2 of 4), focusing on the lectionary texts where Malachi prophecies about the coming of a messenger who will prepare the way for the Messiah, and where Luke reveals that messenger to be John the Baptist, forerunner to Jesus. If you missed the message, I encourage you to listen/watch at our website or via our podcast. Also, be inspired by Bill and Becky Probst’s story that we heard right before the sermon.

As we look around the world today, it’s clear that we’re lacking the peace of the Kingdom. And it’s easy to say the reason for that is because of this thing or that person, but Advent calls us to look within ourselves and repent of our own sins, because repentance is where peace begins. So, I encouraged us on Sunday to repent (metanoia), which literally means to change your mind. If we’re going to make space and “prepare the way” for God to come to us, we must ready our hearts to receive him by first opening up our hearts to God, which requires our willingness to change.

As you continue to live into Advent, consider where God wants you to change your mind. Where does God want you to open your heart for more of his life in you? Also, how is God calling you to see signs of hope and peace in you and around you? I invite you to write those things down or to say them out loud. You can even share that with your spouse, a parent, or a friend. Let’s live into these things together.

Finally, I hope you will join us for worship this Sunday. We will sing songs of the season, hear another story of God at work, and be sharing in communion together. Also, Pastor Kelly will be preaching on Signs of Joy (3 of 4). It’s bound to be another encouraging service that helps us enter into God’s presence and see how God’s light is shining in the darkness.

May God richly bless you this week as you walk in the Spirit and seek to be faithful to Jesus in all things.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S.  As I said at our recent Congregational Council meeting, we will be suspending Eat & Run this coming spring. After a great deal of thought and prayer, we believe that we need to do this for the following reasons: (1) Erma Hoover is stepping down after many years of service; (2) We believe God is calling us to rest from our work in this area and allow some space for his Spirit to work; (3) We need time to reimagine a community meal apart from Wednesday night programs that connects more with our neighbors—a part of our effort to be more missional. While we do have a volunteer(s) who is willing to take on leadership of a community meal, we still think it’s necessary to take a short break and relaunch a community meal at a later time, most likely Fall 2019.

Furthermore, we are working to fill other roles that relate to ongoing hospitality needs of our church (e.g. Sunday morning coffee/snacks, Sunday lunches, fellowship meals for funerals, etc.), which Erma helped to make possible. In the meantime, I’d like to invite those who are interested to be a part of an Eat & Run Exploratory Conversation on Thursday, February 7. Please mark your calendars for that meeting. More info to come at the first of next year. Thank you for your patience and your prayers as we discern how God is leading in 2019. I believe this process will be good for our church and for all those who will be impacted by this ministry in the future.

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

We are now in the first week of the Advent season. Don’t forget to be on the lookout for signs of hope. That’s what I encouraged us to do in the first sermon of our series, God is Coming. If you missed the message, Signs of Hope (1 of 4), you can listen/watch at our website or at the Grantham Church Podcast via iTunes.

As I said in the sermon, it’s important that we acknowledge the darkness around us, but it’s also good for us to see how the light is already piercing the darkness in our world. Remember, if we only look at the darkness and focus on what is wrong, we will not be able to live with the hope, peace, joy, and love of Advent. The Lord does not want us to live in darkness. So, this is worth practicing this week.

As I’m sure there are things about yourself, our church, and our world that you believe are not as they should be, it’s helpful for us to put things into perspective by acknowledging the things that are good—the evidence that God is coming. This ought to prompt us to be thankful for his mercy and grace upon us. I hope you will allow the Spirit to minister to you in this way through the Advent season.

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on the Advent theme of peace. We will once again sing songs of the season, light the Advent candle, and hear from persons in our congregation share how God has been at work in their life, as a sign of his coming. I will share with you a message entitled, Signs of Peace. We will also be taking some time in the service to consecrate our deacons for ministry in 2019. I hope you will join us for another robust and meaningful service that both challenges and inspires us to be children of the light.

Finally, if you missed Congregational Council, I wanted to let you know that we voted on and confirmed four new board members for next year: Dan Alonso, Rebekah Basinger, Patti Hess, and Dave Warren as treasurer. Please welcome all of these new members and thank them for their willingness to serve. And join me in thanking Justin Weber for his many years of service on the board! Early next year we plan to dedicate a page of our website to the 2019 Church Board where you will be able to see who all is on the board, including their pictures, their role on the board, and their contact info.

Also, stay tuned for a link to the audio of the Reflections & Vision I shared at council. We will be sure to include the council minutes as well.

Thanks to all those who attended council this year. I was greatly encouraged by the intergenerational turnout. I also appreciated the helpful feedback and comments that were given in response to upcoming changes and ongoing discernment concerning the future. May God continue to bless Grantham Church as we remain humble, hopeful, and believe the best about one another.

Have a great week. See you this Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S.  Interested in hearing an inspiring story of hope by a visiting pastor from Africa? Dr. Sunday Agang lost his pastor and other friends to violence in Nigeria by Muslim extremists, yet he now leads an organization that has brought peace to the region by assisting both Muslim and Christian families. He wrote one of the books recommended for our upcoming January focus, No More Cheeks to Turn? He will be sharing his story at an informal lunch at the church on Tuesday, December 11 at 12 noon. If you are interested in attending, please contact Rich Stuebing (rwstuebing@gmail.com).

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org