Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

Why do we give? That’s what Dan Bisbee addressed in his sermon, Loving Generosity, last Sunday. Dan invited us to consider several passages of Scripture that offer insight into why we should give to the church and others in need. Most importantly, because John 3:16 says that God, who is love, “gave” his Son to show us his love. True love gives for the sake of others, not expecting anything in return or thinking of the reward. And so, when we love God with everything that we are, and we love our neighbor as ourselves, we become like our giving God who puts his generosity on display in Christ.

Dan also pointed out that Jesus asks the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-22 to “sell” all of his belongings because “ownership” is involved. Unfortunately, we often tend to find our worth in what we own. While Jesus doesn’t ask everyone to give up all of their earthly possessions, we can see the reason Jesus asked the rich man to do this. His identity was rooted in what he owned. It’s no stretch to say that his stuff owned him. This can happen to all of us. Therefore, it’s a healthy practice to give away our resources to those in need; for their sake and our own.

So, after considering Jesus’ command to the rich man, we can see that giving is actually good for the soul. Jesus was trying to free the man from bondage to his stuff. Think about that. Spending all of our money on ourselves and accumulating material things tends to make us self-centered and insensitive to the needs of others. We can’t live into the Kingdom that way. But when we give, and we’re loving generosity, we become more fully human (like Christ) and it has a positive impact on our mental, physical, and spiritual health. It humanizes the giver and the recipient. Who doesn’t want that?

In his sermon, Dan said that a few things can happen when we give away our stuff: (1) we cut the cord of emotional ownership; (2) we clarify the true value of our possessions; (3) and we confirm the true source of our own worth. Those are excellent things to keep in mind each time you give to Grantham Church, a charitable organization, or to an individual in need. Giving truly is a spiritual discipline.

I want to thank Dan for giving us such a helpful message as we work at being good stewards and lovers of generosity at Grantham Church. And thank you to all those who are being intentional in what you’re giving to the church on a regular basis, so we can live into all that God has for us a congregation and we can expand our influence in our community in the days ahead.

Remember that tomorrow we enter into the season of Lent with our Ash Wednesday services. We are having a brief service (20 min) beginning at 7:00 a.m. that will include a couple of songs, Scripture reading, prayer, and the imposition of ashes. If you’d like to receive ashes before you begin your day, please join us in C8-12. There will be a full service at 6:30 p.m. in the sanctuary that will conclude with the imposition of ashes. Please join us for one or both of these services. If you’ve never participated in an Ash Wednesday service, it is very moving and unlike any other service that we do. 

This Sunday we begin our Lent 2018 series, 40 Days in the Desert: Faith Formed in the Wilderness. In this 6-week series leading up to Easter Sunday, we will look at how Jesus was shaped by his desert experiences and how this time of testing impacted his faith and mission. Each week we will begin in the desert and then jump forward to reflect on a future episode in Jesus’ life and ministry. What are some of the lessons we can learn from Christ’s example? How does God want to form our own faith for the journey ahead?

In 40 Days in the Desert, I’m inviting us to develop a faith that’s been formed in the wilderness. Please mark your calendars for these Lent to Easter events and services:

February 14 – Ash Wednesday Services at 7:00 a.m. & 6:30 p.m.
February 25 – March 18 – Lenten Taize Services, Sunday nights at 7:30 p.m.
March 25 – Palm Sunday | Tony Campolo (guest speaker)
March 29 – Maundy Thursday, meal at 5:30, footwashing at 6:30, communion at 7:00 p.m.
March 30 – Good Friday Service at 7:00 p.m.
March 31 – Easter Egg Hunt at 9:30 a.m.
April 1 – Easter Sunday Worship Service at 10:30 a.m.

We will be taking communion at the end of the service this Sunday. During communion we’ll be singing “I Shall Not Want,” by Audrey Assad. This is a new song for our congregation. Therefore, in order to prepare to join in the singing, Pastor Dave has asked that you listen to this recording: www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8WgHGOak1c

Finally, I’m happy to announce that we have hired a part-time Communications Director! Lisa Mays is joining our staff and will be begin working in the office on Monday, February 26. Lisa comes to us from another local church where she has been serving in communications. As Communication Director here at Grantham, Lisa will largely be responsible for creating content for various communication pieces (e.g. bulletin, pastor’s email, weekly slides, etc.), and she will also assist with our utilization of social media and maintaining the church website.

We are excited to have such a qualified individual in this role. I will be introducing Lisa at the conclusion of the service this Sunday. Please come ready to welcome her as she becomes a regular part of our congregation.

See you this Sunday! May God bless you all as you follow Jesus through the rest of the week.

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, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

I hope this week is going well for you and that you’re staying awake to God’s presence around you.

If you missed the sermon this past Sunday, you can listen to Jesus Had a Small Group at our website or via our podcast on iTunes. If you go to the sermons on our website, you will see that you’re able to access several helpful worship resources. We typically post the sermon slides, the sermon video, the bulletin, and small group discussion questions each week. Also, we’ve just started posting the sermon transcript, if you would like to read the message. If you’d like to watch the entire worship service, you can check out a DVD of the service from our church library.

Are you involved in a sermon-based small group at Grantham Church? We revisited the importance of personal space in the message on Sunday, and talked a bit about why small groups are our primary vehicle for discipleship and building community. Our model embraces a semester-based approach, which means we have on and off ramps to this ministry.

While we do hope that your small group gels and becomes long-lasting, we want to purposely have our groups be accessible to those wanting to try it out, and those who may enter a season of life that requires them to change groups or step away. 

Remember, our small groups are beginning to meet over the next few weeks. If you’re not already plugged in to a group, please fill out the form at our welcome centers or email the church office. You can also email Ron Burwell at rburwell@messiah.edu, who is currently coordinating our small groups. Ron is happy to help with any questions you have about joining a group.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to engage with others in discussion around our upcoming Lent series, 40 Days in the Desert: Faith Formed in the Wilderness. In this 6-week series leading up to Easter Sunday, we will look at how Jesus was shaped by his desert experiences and how this time of testing impacted his faith and mission. Each week we will begin in the desert and then jump forward to reflect on a future episode in Jesus’ life and ministry. What are some of the lessons we can learn from Christ’s example? How does God want to form our own faith for the journey ahead?

In 40 Days in the Desert, I’m inviting us to develop a faith that’s been formed in the wilderness. Please mark your calendars for these Lent to Easter events and services:

February 14 - Ash Wednesday Services at 7:00 a.m. & 6:30 p.m.
February 25 – March 18 – Lenten Taize Services, Sunday nights at 7:30 p.m.
March 25 – Palm Sunday | Tony Campolo (guest speaker)
March 29 – Maundy Thursday, meal at 5:30, footwashing at 6:30, communion at 7:00 p.m.
March 30 – Good Friday Service at 7:00 p.m.
March 31 – Easter Egg Hunt at 9:30 a.m.
April 1 – Easter Sunday Worship Service at 10:30 a.m.

You will notice that this year we’re offering two service times for Ash Wednesday. We wanted to offer a time in the morning for those who would like to receive the ashes before they begin their day. This meeting will be brief (about 20 min) and held in C8-12. The evening service will look much like what we did last year, where we conclude our worship with the imposition of ashes. 

Finally, I wanted to let you know that we’re nearing the end of the hiring process for a part-time Communications Director. I should be able to make an announcement about the new addition to our staff in the email next week. Stay tuned for that. Also, our search team for an Associate Pastor met for the first time last week. It was a blessing to see the Spirit at work through the team as we took the first steps in the search process. As I said before, I will keep you updated on our progress along the way. Please keep the team in your prayers though the weeks ahead.

I look forward to seeing you in worship this Sunday. May God continue to bless Grantham Church as we seek to build his Kingdom in our community.

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, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

This past Sunday we concluded our Inherent Worth series for the month of January. I want to thank our Peace & Social Justice Commission and the series task force for the work that was done to raise awareness and call our church to action. So far, we have received almost $7,000 in our Peace Sunday offering! I know it has been a challenging month, but our giving indicates that the Spirit has been at work in our hearts. I’m excited about how our giving will help three local ministries: Women At Risk, Intl., She’s Somebody’s Daughter, and Peace Promise. Thank you for your generous support of Kingdom work in our own backyard.

There are a few final things I’d like you to know about this series. If you weren’t able to give and would like to do so, you can still do that by using the Ingathering Offering envelope (in the pews) during our regular offering on Sunday, or drop your gift off in the church office this week. Also, if you didn’t get a chance to fill out a response card, you can stop by the church office and fill one out. And lastly, please pray for our Peace & Social Justice Commission as they collect your response cards and discern how God is leading us on from here. We’re already gaining some clarity as to how God wants us to respond to needs within our congregation.

Stay tuned for the next Peace Matters newsletter for a follow-up to the series, which will include suggested resources and insight into how God has been working through our efforts to shine light in the darkness.

Our next series is a few weeks away. I’m excited about giving more attention to Lent this year in a series called, 40 Days in the Desert: Faith Formed in the Wilderness. In this 6-week series leading up to Easter Sunday, we will look at how Jesus was shaped by his desert experiences and how this time of testing impacted his faith and mission. Each week we will begin in the desert and then jump forward to reflect on a future episode in Jesus’ life and ministry. What are some of the lessons we can learn from Christ’s example? How does God want to form our own faith for the journey ahead?

In 40 Days in the Desert, I’m inviting us to develop a faith that’s been formed in the wilderness. Please mark your calendars for these Lent to Easter events and services:

February 14 - Ash Wednesday Services at 7:00 a.m. & 6:30 p.m.
February 25 – March 18 – Lenten Taize Services, Sunday nights at 7:30 p.m.
March 25 – Palm Sunday | Tony Campolo (guest speaker)
March 29 – Maundy Thursday, meal at 5:30 p.m., footwashing at 6:30 p.m., communion at 7:00 p.m.
March 30 – Good Friday Service at 7:00 p.m.
March 31 – Easter Egg Hunt at 9:30 a.m.
April 1 – Easter Sunday Worship Service at 10:30 a.m.

This Sunday you will find an insert in your bulletin that further describes the focus of our upcoming Lent series and an invitation to join a sermon-based small group for the spring semester. In the sermon this weekend, we will revisit the importance of “personal space” for discipleship and building community, and how being a part of a small group at Grantham can benefit you and our congregation. I hope you will join us for worship this Sunday as we consider how Jesus had a small group and why we also need to engage in this way for our spiritual formation.

Finally, I wanted to let you know that the board has approved my request to bestow the title of “Pastor Emeritus” on John Yeatts. As you know, Pastor John has been serving as our Congregational Care Pastor since the fall of 2016. In the years ahead, Pastor John will continue to serve the congregation on a volunteer basis and will provide care when and where he is able. In anticipation of hiring a full-time Associate Pastor, and out of appreciation for John’s service to Grantham Church, I’m very happy for John to be given this honorary title. I know that he will continue to bless us all by his service among us.

May God continue to bless Grantham Church as we continue pursuing Christ and more of his Kingdom in 2018.

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, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

It feels like January has gone by rather quickly. If you have missed any of the messages in our Inherent Worth series, you can listen at our website and access other helpful resources as well.

I know I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. Thank you for being a church that is willing to address difficult issues. Frankly, many churches don’t want to take on the challenging task of raising awareness and calling people to action about various evils that we’re facing today. And because of this, the church has lost its Kingdom-influence and her ability to share the good news with a broken world. We must do better.

Like many of you, I want to see Grantham Church be courageous in our willingness to shine the light of God’s truth and love on the darkness around us. Of course, in taking on this task we are bound to make some mistakes along the way as we learn to navigate the issues in a “third way” and talk responsibly to one another, especially in an intergenerational congregation. The easy thing to do would be not to talk about it, but that’s not our calling as Christ followers. So, I ask that you extend some grace to one another and please be patient as we figure this out together.

As I’m sure you’re aware, this Sunday we will be looking at the pervasive problem of pornography in our culture. I’d like to set us all at ease knowing that the most explicit aspects of this topic will be addressed in the combined Learning Community with Tammy Stauffer (She’s Somebody’s Daughter). Parents, we leave it to you to decide if your children are ready to hear the topic discussed in this setting. We recognize that the age of a child isn’t always the best way to determine what they’re ready and able to process, so please do what you think is best knowing the subject matter.

After the Learning Community, we will hear from Susan Vigliano (Associate Pastor at Mechanicsburg BIC) in the worship service. Her message will touch on pornography, but she will speak more broadly to all of the issues covered in this series. She will speak to how God has called us to be light in the darkness and encourage us to follow Jesus into the most difficult places. Nevertheless, if parents would rather their children not be in the service, Pastor Denise welcomes 4th and 5th graders to join Kids Own Worship when they’re invited to do so before the message.

This coming Sunday we conclude our Inherent Worth series with Peace Sunday. By now you should have received an Ingathering Offering envelope indicating how your financial gifts will be used to support several local ministries. This special offering will take place following the sermon. It will also be an opportunity for you to give us your feedback on the series. You will find a response card in your bulletin that allows you to share your thoughts and help us discern where the Spirit is leading from here. Please fill that out and be prepared to drop it in the basket with your special offering. If you have any questions, please contact the church office.

Also, I wanted to remind you that we are re-launching our sermon based small groups in February. As I said last week, small groups are our primary “personal space” vehicle for building community and making disciples at Grantham Church. We are working hard to build this ministry and increase involvement in the months ahead. If you’re not a part of one already, I want to encourage you to try one out this spring. If you have questions or you’re interested in joining a group, you can email Ron Burwell at rburwell@messiah.edu or the church office at office@granthamchurch.org. Next week I will be revealing the focus for our Lent 2018 series.

Finally, we are officially in our search for a full-time Associate Pastor. I’m happy to report that we have a search team made up of the following people: Roger Sider, Joanna Barnhouse, John Yeatts, Eric Seibert, Linda Gemberling, Kathy Stuebing, and Dave Warren. Our first meeting is next Wednesday at 6:00 pm. Please be in prayer for the team and for the search process. I believe the Spirit will use this group to help us discern what gifted person God is calling to step into this important role during this season of church life. I will periodically keep you updated on the progress. Thank you for your support!

May God continue to bless Grantham Church as we seek to follow Jesus together.

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, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

The new year is off to a great start! I’m encouraged by what I’m already seeing in the life of our congregation.

I hope that you’re benefiting from our Inherent Worth series. If you missed the first two messages, you can listen to God’s Plan for Social Justice (1 of 4) and The Imago Dei in Everyone (2 of 4) at our website or on our podcast via iTunes. In the latest installment, I shared a foundational message for the series on what it means that men and women are created in God’s image. I gave special attention to women being created as man’s equal and counterpart, according to a responsible reading of the Genesis account. I think you will find that helpful for the next two messages in this series.

If you’ve not read our denomination’s statement on women in leadership, you can read that at the BIC US website. You can also read the Q&A with Alan Robinson in response to some feedback on the statement. In addition, you can read an issue of the BIC History & Life journal dedicated to women in ministry. 

So far, we have looked at the evils of human trafficking and misogyny. This coming Sunday we will be addressing the problem of domestic violenceEric Seibert, a professor at Messiah College and a member of Grantham Church, will be speaking in the worship service on the topic. Remember that we will have a combined Learning Community at 9:00 a.m. in C8-12 with Elisa Seibert and Roger Sider leading the class. Please join us as we talk about an issue that we’re deeply concerned about at Grantham. As usual, there will be a time of discussion following the presentation of the speakers.

Also, I wanted to let you know that we will soon be releasing a Spring 2018 Ministries brochure containing information about our Lent to Easter series, topics for Learning Communities, and other pertinent details regarding ministry opportunities. This will include information about a fresh launch of our small groups ministry.

Over the coming weeks, we will be forming and reforming our sermon-based small groups for the spring semester. Small groups are our primary “personal space” vehicle for building community and making disciples at Grantham Church. I see this opportunity as a central part of our life together. It means so much to us that all of our pastoral staff are plugged in to a small group. If you’re not a part of one already, I want to encourage you to try one out this spring. If you have questions or you’re interested in joining a group, please email Ron Burwell at rburwell@messiah.edu or the church office at office@granthamchurch.org.

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday in worship. Until then, let us continue to pursue Christ, the visible image of the invisible 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, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

I hope everyone is staying warm and free from sickness! Thankfully, it looks like we will see some warmer temperatures as the week unfolds.

This past Sunday we began our January series, Inherent Worth: Rediscovering the Image of God in Everyone. Remember that in this series we are addressing various issues related to abuse and exploitation of people made in God’s image. Originally, we wanted to begin the series with the message I’ll be preaching this Sunday; a message that is foundational to our understanding of men and women being made in God’s image. However, Becky McDonald, our guest speaker, could only come last Sunday. So, we made a slight adjustment to accommodate her being with us.

If you missed Becky’s message on human trafficking, you can now listen to her message God’s Plan for Social Justice at our website. I know what Becky shared in Learning Community and in the service was at times tough to hear, but I trust that the Spirit used her in some way to speak to our hearts. As I said in my introduction, our aim with a series like this is to raise awareness and encourage local action. If you’d like some help with how to respond to Becky’s message, you will find some ways to do that at her website for Women At Risk International. Also, if you’re a parent, this video (at 5:50) will give you some guidance with your children.

While I do plan to include ways to respond each week in the Pastor’s Email, and we have some helpful books and resources on the bookshelf in the lobby, please stay tuned for the next Peace Matters newsletter that will likely come out later next month. Our Peace & Social Justice Commission will follow-up the series with reflections and other ways for us to respond to what we’ve heard this month. How do we respond as individuals? How do we respond as a church? The gospel of Jesus calls us to action. Pray for each other as the Spirit guides us.

The series continues this Sunday as we look at the basic biblical teaching that men and women were created equal in God’s image (Gen 1:27). Join us for the combined Learning Community at 9:00 a.m. in C8-12 where we will hear Alan Robinson (National Director of BIC US) talk about our denomination’s view of men and women in leadership. Also, Lynda Gephart (Pastor of Congregational Life at Harrisburg BIC) will share about her journey as a female pastor serving the church over many years. The class was full last week, but we’re doing our best this Sunday to make sure there is space for everyone in a setting conducive to conversation.

Finally, I want to express my thanks for our Peace & Social Justice Commission and the work they’ve done to plan a month-long peace focus, leading up to Peace Sunday on January 28. These are heavy concerns to be sure, but I know God will give us the grace and the wisdom to process and respond in love with the light that drives out the darkness. Thank you for being the sort of church that is willing to walk the Jesus road and confront evil with the light of the gospel. I believe the Lord will surprise us with hope as we listen, reflect, and respond to the brokenness around us.

May God continue to bless Grantham Church as we embody Christ to our neighbors.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

P.S.  I wanted to make you aware of an opportunity this Wednesday at the regular Friends Over Fences (FOF) meeting that fits well with our January series. FOF has invited a guest speaker to come and share about his journey and ministry. Reese Crane is a former 35 year sex & love and porn addict. He lost his family, ministry and a number of friends because of his addiction. After breaking free, Reese decided to become trained as Christian Counselor, receiving his Bachelor's in Christian Counseling from the International Institute of Christian Counseling in Sarasota, FL. Reese lives in the Harrisburg, PA area and works with those who struggle with love, sex, and porn addiction as well as failing marriages due to the influence of pornography and sex addiction. FOF welcomes our congregation to come listen to Reese on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. 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, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org