Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

Spring is edging its way in slowly, but the flu is still making its rounds, which is why I’m writing on Pastor David’s behalf this week. I’m sure Pastor David and his family would appreciate your prayers as he recovers from the flu and his boys recover from Strep Throat and a viral illness. 

This past Sunday, Pastor David’s sermon, Be A Hen in the Fox’s Den, challenged us to cultivate courage in the face of opposition. Jesus didn’t shy away from confrontation, but instead held steadfast to his mission. Pastor David also reminded us that courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the willingness to hold steadfast to our values and mission despite reasonable fear. 

Jesus’ mission was rooted in the great longing love of God, which Jesus likened to that of a mother hen seeking to protect her chicks. This Sunday, as Pastor David spoke, I couldn’t help but remember those killed in last week’s devastating terrorist attack in a New Zealand mosque. I heard on the radio yesterday, the story of just one couple caught in the attack – a woman whose husband was wheelchair bound. When she saw the gunman turn toward her husband, she threw herself across him – in an act of great love and courage – and absorbed with her own body, the bullet meant for her beloved.  Her husband survived, she did not.

This is the kind of courage Jesus showed – the courage to lay down his life for those willing to be gathered to him. This is the kind of love we are called to show in each moment, large or small.

This Sunday, Pastor John Yeatts will be talking on the topics of Repentance and Confession, using Luke 18:10-14.  I look forward to this fitting follow up – as repentance and confession are key to our willingness to be gathered into the love of God.

This Sunday, our children will help us collect our annual My Coins Count Offering which will go toward supporting MCC through the PA Relief Sale. Be sure to bring your spare change to give to this important work. Some of our fourth and fifth grade students will be journeying to the auction with Pastor Denise on April 6 to deliver our coins and help count the offering.

I hope to see you on Sunday!

With Love and Joy,
Pastor Kelly

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

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

It was so good being back in the saddle this past Sunday morning for the kick off of our series, Cultivating & Letting Go. We began our Lenten journey with a message called, You Gotta Have Grit (1 of 6). We looked at the temptations of Christ and considered how Jesus showed “grit” in his early life, trials, and ministry. I said that you have to have grit and determination to follow Jesus. Thankfully, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can all develop our grit so that we can mature, grow, and reach our goals. Here were the four ways that Angela Duckworth says we can grow our grit:

  1. Develop a passion and/or fascination (e.g. problem to be solved, questions to answer, making something better, etc.)

  2. Daily improvement, discipline, and practice

  3. Remind yourself of the greater purpose (i.e. Why am I doing this? What’s the bigger picture?)

  4. Adopt a growth mindset (e.g. “I can do this” instead of “it will always be like this”)

Thanks to all of those who participated in writing down something you’re cultivating and something you’re letting go of for Lent on the colored pieces of paper you were given. They have already been hung up in a creative design on the sanctuary wall by our Visual Arts Team. And I must say, it looks fantastic! Now, we pray and get to work on doing those things we’ve committed to do this Lenten season.

This Sunday you’re in for a treat! It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so we will hear Celtic music and familiar songs with an Irish flare. I hope that you will join us for the second Sunday in Lent, as we continue giving attention to what God wants us to cultivate in our Christian life and those things we need to let go of for his Spirit to deepen our faith and fashion us into the image of Christ.

Finally, I wanted to give you a brief update on the direction of Eat & Run—our church community meal that was put on hold for the spring semester so that we might revisit its purpose. I’m happy to tell you that we have had two very productive exploratory conversations this year. The result of the conversation was to affirm the community meal as serving a three-fold purpose: (1) connecting with/serving students; (2) offering a space of both fellowship and an outlet for service for the church body; (3) reaching out and meeting needs within the surrounding community (both current and future community).

In other words, we desire that a future community meal would meet needs while being a missional intersection of the church, college, and broader community. And so, now that we have clearly identified our purpose and mission, the next step would be to identify leaders to work with staff in coordinating this ministry. We believe that 2-3 volunteers would allow us to coordinate and lead this ministry into a new season of growth. Therefore, we invite you to enter into an intentional time of prayer as we wait for willing leaders to step up with a passion to serve in this way. If you’re interested in giving leadership to our new community meal, please contact Pastor Kelly (kchripczuk@granthamchurch.org).

May God continue to bless Grantham Church with hearts, hands, and feet that are willing to join us in being a faithful expression of Christ to those within our influence.

See you on Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S.  As we continue to form missional communities, I want to personally invite you to our next exploratory conversation on Thursday evening. Friends Over Fences has been an important ministry partner of Grantham Church for many years, and we want to explore whether the missional community model might be the best way to support them (much like we are now doing for Paxton). If you have supported FOF in the past or are interested in exploring opportunities to engage with prison ministry, I would encourage you to attend this meeting or contact Dan Bisbee (dbisbee@granthamchurch.org). See the Body Life below for more details. And let’s thank God together for the progress that is being made with our missional communities at Grantham!

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

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

I want to thank you for all your prayers, emails, and text messages the past few days. As you know, this past Saturday was very challenging for me. I woke up early in the morning with abdominal pain and cramping. I eventually blacked out and fell in the bathroom, hitting my head and cutting my chin. I spent the morning in the ER and was under observation the rest of the day until 6:00 pm. Thankfully, the good folks in the ER were able to stitch me up, give me some meds, and send me off much better than the way I arrived.

As you can imagine, I needed to stay home and rest on Sunday. I really appreciate Pastor Kelly stepping up last minute and preaching on Transfiguration Sunday. I listened to her message and was glad that she prepared us to enter in to the Lenten season. That is a primary reason why we recognize Jesus’ transfiguration the Sunday before Lent. As the Book of Common Prayer states, we celebrate the revelation of Christ's glory "before the passion" so that we may "be strengthened to bear our cross and be changed into his likeness."

Lent officially begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. The focus of the Lenten season is on renewed discipline to walk in the way of the cross and rediscover our need to reject sin and follow Jesus. At Easter, we will celebrate the fullness of Christ’s glory through his resurrection from the dead, which as Pastor Kelly indicated, is foreshadowed in the transfiguration. But before we celebrate on the risen Lord on Easter, we spend 40 days together in the wilderness, just as Christ did before beginning his ministry. It’s during Lent that we reflect on our need for God and (re)discover our identity in the One who empowers us to live fully as people made in God’s image.

So, this year we want to recognize this important season in the church calendar with our series, Cultivating & Letting Go | Lent 2019. The church lectionary (Year C) offers us images and stories with themes of earthiness and grit. And since Lent is a season of spiritual gardening, we will be turning our attention to those things we need to cultivate and those things we need to let go for God to grow more of Christ in us. I invite you to be intentional in walking with us through this series in the coming weeks by entering in and allowing the formative power of the Lenten season to shape your faith journey.

Finally, I hope you’ll join us for our special Ash Wednesday Service tonight at 7:00 pm as we officially begin Lent by reflecting on our own mortality. We will have a time of singing (and silence), a brief message, and conclude the service with the traditional imposition of ashes, i.e. receive the sign of the cross on our foreheads. Childcare will be available if you need it. I look forward to seeing you tonight and again this Sunday as we freely give God our hearts this Lenten season. May the Holy Spirit move among us in powerful ways over the next 40 days.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S. If you were in the service this past Sunday, you heard Cheryl Wolf (Congregational Secretary) announce our spring council meeting, coming up on Sunday, March 24 at 6:30 pm. You may recall that the Church Board decided last year to move to a two-council model. As a way of reminder, this allows us to do several things: (1) report/celebrate the recently completed year; (2) plan the new year before it starts; (3) report the financial results of the previous year in conjunction with ministry reports. In other words, we need two councils: one for planning and one for reporting/celebrating. I invite you will join us on March 24 to hear impact stories of how God was at work in our church last year, and to get a glimpse of where the Spirit is leading us in 2019.

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

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

It was a blessing to have United Voices of Praise leading us in worship last Sunday. I sat in the back of the sanctuary with my family through the last half of the service, and so it was apparent to me that many of you were moved by the passionate singing of the black gospel tradition. I know it’s not everyone’s preferred style of worship, nor did we know all of the songs, but that’s OK. Part of being convergent in our worship together is that we embrace multiple styles of music, as far as it helps folks in our church family express their faith and grow as disciples of Jesus.

This reminds me of what life is often like in relationships with close friends, a spouse, our children, grandchildren, etc. Our love and concern for others should lead us to regularly put aside our own personal preferences for the joy and edification of the other person. Love requires it, actually. Maybe you’ve experienced that the way I have.

For example, this past weekend my wife and I took our 6 year old son, Kainan, to see How To Train Your Dragon 3, a new movie that just came out in theaters. I confess that there was a significant part of me that had no interest in seeing a kid’s movie about dragons. I’d never seen the first two, and there were several other movies I would have rather watched. And to top it all off, I wasn’t really in the mood. But when it came time to go, my love for my son was what empowered me to enter into the experience with my whole heart. I saw the joy that it brought him, and that brought me joy. So, not only did that bless me, but the movie turned out to be pretty good too. In fact, it even pulled at the heart strings a little bit—all because I was open to the experience.

May we continue to be a church that stays open to how the Spirit wants to move in our church, especially in ways that we wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves. Thank you for helping Grantham to be a place where God’s Spirit can surprise us through a diversity of speakers, musicians, and worship styles, for the glory of his name and the edification of the Body of Christ.

Finally, this coming Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday on the church calendar. I’ll be preaching on Luke 9:18-36. What is the theological significance of this oft-neglected episode in the life of Jesus? And how do we apply this rich message to our lives? In a sermon entitled, Gazing on the Glory of Jesus, I’ll be sharing how the transfiguration of Jesus calls us to live transfigured lives, by accepting who Jesus is—fully human, fully God, final revelation of the Father—and by following him as his disciples. I hope you will join us for worship and communion this Sunday, as we prepare to enter the Lenten season.

Stay tuned for more on our upcoming Lent series. In the meantime, let’s begin to prepare our hearts for a special season in the church that calls us to reflect on our need for God.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

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

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

At our church board retreat last Saturday morning, one of the things I said to our amazing group of leaders is that I’m not interested in novelty for novelty’s sake. I think when you’ve been in the church for many years, especially the same church, it can at times feel like leadership just changes things to be trendy. I don’t deny that this sort of thing happens in some churches, but that’s not what motivates me or the rest of your pastoral staff. Part of being a “convergent” church means that we embrace the rich history of Christianity and many meaningful traditions of the church, as far as they can be integrated with modern forms of worship and emerging ministries that seek to be sensitive to the ongoing work of the Spirit, who calls us to continue growing as disciples of Jesus in 2019.

So, instead of doing whatever is hip and trendy, what we want to do is be intentional in responding to the changing world around us. Any congregation that wants to be a Great Commission church (Matt 28:18-20), must recognize that there comes a time for the church to recontextualize the gospel, so that the Body of Christ continues to be relevant and effective in ministering to the world around them. In other words, we want to adjust our language, our worship, and our ministry practices to meet the needs of our community (in and outside the church), and respond in a timely fashion to the moving of God’s Spirit in our post-Christian culture.

That’s why you’ve heard me say we need to be more missional, that we need to work all of the spaces in the church, and that we’re living into being intergenerational, convergent, and third way. All of these things (and more) are a part of what I see God doing to recontextualize the gospel among us and sharpen our focus on where the Spirit is leading us in the future.

As we journey down that road together, it’s important to note that this trajectory we’re on certainly has some to do with why we must address difficult topics from the pulpit. This past Sunday I preached a message entitled, Dealing with Depression. Not only are many people struggling with depression and mental illness today, but it’s not something we usually hear talked about in churches. And as difficult as it was for me to deliver, I’m sure it was even more challenging for some people to hear. It’s encouraging to know that several people will be seeking professional help as a result of the message. Praise God! Please join me in praying for all those who are walking in the darkness.

Furthermore, if you’re interested in reading a book for continued study and growth, I encourage you to check out, Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission.

I confess to you that I’m particularly sensitive to (i.e. “tuned in”) to constant criticisms that the Church (big C) is silent on some of the most pressing issues of our day. I’m determined to see our church be the difference the world needs to see in us, and what other Christians are longing for in a community of faith: a church that looks like Jesus. I’m grateful for your support as we remind ourselves and our neighbors that the gospel is still relevant today. Jesus was not afraid to challenge the status quo, expose religious hypocrisy, humanize the marginalized, and address difficult topics—all for the sake of binding up the brokenhearted and setting captives free. I appreciate your prayers and support as we seek to embody the good news that Jesus is alive and that the Kingdom is coming.

Finally, I hope you can join us this Sunday for a special worship service. United Voices of Praise (the Gospel Choir of Messiah College) will be leading us in an uplifting time of worship. We have asked Eric Byrd and UVP to come and inspire us with passionate worship from the black gospel tradition! I will not be preaching this Sunday, but we will still have a few standard worship elements in the service. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to worship alongside UVP. Come and be filled with hope and encouragement as we worship Jesus together in the sanctuary. 

Until then, may the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you his peace.

Your Partner in Ministry,
Pastor David

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

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

It was exciting to see a slight bump in worship attendance this past Sunday. Our learning communities are going strong and folks aren’t letting the colder weather keep them from gathering with the Body of Christ for corporate worship. It’s a wonderful thing when we don’t want to miss gathering regularly because of what God is doing in our church. Every Sunday carries with it a special blessing as we stay committed to Christ and to one another. I believe we’re seeing Spirit-generated momentum building in 2019. Let’s continue to be alert and active in the faith as we imagine greater things together.

If you missed the sermon, or you’d like to listen again and/or share it, this past Sunday I delivered a message called, Dealing with Anger. It’s a topic that touches us all in one way or another. I hope you were challenged and encouraged by the preaching of Numbers 20:1-13, and by the personal stories I shared. As I said in the message, it’s important to be intentional in dealing with anger. For some, it may mean that you begin by talking to a trusted family member, friend, or a pastor. For others, it may mean reading some books on the topic and/or seeking professional counseling. Whatever God would have you do, remember that his Spirit is there to guide you in getting the help and healing that you need. Let’s walk with God and each other, church. That’s how we grow!

This coming Sunday I will be addressing an even more difficult topic, as I share a message entitled, Dealing with Depression. Not only is this topic relevant for our congregation, it has been an issue that the broader church has unfortunately neglected or mishandled too often in the past. Please pray for me as I prepare to share how the Bible speaks to the issue, where recent psychological studies/practices can help, and offer suggestions on what to do if you’re depressed or you’re walking with someone who is. Despite the heavy nature of the topic, I do believe the service will be uplifting and empowering. I hope you’ll come prepared to receive a blessing, and also ready to be a blessing to others.

Finally, I’m happy to report that the Peace Sunday Offering closed at a total of $7,942.14. Thank you for giving with all of your heart! It is obvious that you benefited from our Peacemakers series last month, and that you care deeply about the three projects we gave to this year. May we continue to faithfully give of our time, talents, and treasure (money), as we join with the Spirit in making disciples and expanding the Kingdom here at Grantham Church and beyond.

To God be the glory for the great things he has done and is doing in our church family.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S.  Two more quick things: (1) The Church Board is taking a mini retreat this Saturday morning, so please pray for all of us as we meet and discern how God is leading this year; and (2) the Eat & Run Exploratory Conversation last Thursday night went very well. I believe we all caught a glimpse of where God might be moving us with a community meal in the near future. Our next meeting to continue the conversation will be held on Thursday, February 28 at 6:30 in C8-12.

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