Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers and Sisters,

I sure have enjoyed preaching through our fall sermon series. As I said this past Sunday in the message, The Power of Christian Liturgy (5 of 7), this series comes out of my own personal journey, and I believe it fits into the ongoing story of Grantham Church. 

Here are the three books I mentioned that have largely influenced my thinking and inspired our Spiritual and Religious series:

  1. Water to Wine by Brian Zahnd

  2. You Are What You Love by James K.A. Smith

  3. Ever Ancient, Ever New by Winfield Bevins

In the latest installment in our series, I addressed corporate, liturgical worship. This coming Sunday Pastor Kelly will share about the need for followers of Jesus to develop a personal liturgy in a message entitled, Religious Rhythms of Grace (6 of 7). And then in the final sermon of the series, I plan to help us cast a vision for being a church that embraces a convergence of the ancient and the new, i.e. being a "convergent" church.

Remember that if you miss any of the messages in this series, you can listen/watch at our website or listen on the go via the Grantham Church Podcast on iTunes. I hope that you will do that so we can stay together and engage with how the Spirit is leading us as a congregation. Thank you for taking the time listen and process on your own, at home, and in your small groups. 

Finally, I want to invite you to be in prayer for your staff and church board as we are in the final stretch of 2019. This is the time of year where we are beginning to prepare for Congregational Council by looking at our current budget and developing a ministry plan for 2020. Thank you for including this important request into your regular prayer times.

May God bless Grantham Church so that we can continue to move forward in being an intergenerational, convergent, third way congregation, for such a time as this!

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 and Sisters,

I hope you've been benefiting from our current sermon series, Spiritual and Religious. We have now crossed the mid-way point with the message, Gracious Orthodoxy (4 of 7). In the latest installment, I shared about the birth of the Christian religion, our unity in a common creed (The Apostles' Creed), and why we need to be graciously uncompromising in the historic beliefs of Christianity.

I concluded the message with a reference to Rich Mullins' song, Creed. Check out this video of his song, which begins with a glimpse into Rich's heart for Christ. You can also listen to this tribute to Rich's song by Third Day. I'm starting to think I should put together a playlist for this series. What do you think?

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak in chapel to about 1,000 college students. I delivered a 25 minute summation of the Spiritual and Religious series that was well-received. Pastor Dave Perry led us in worship before the sermon. And of course, Doug Curry introduced us! Also, it was encouraging to have a group of students who attend Grantham come up to me after it was over. It was a special day.

This Sunday we will look at The Power of Christian Liturgy (5 of 7). I will define "liturgy" and talk about what it accomplishes. I'll be inviting us to consider the importance of rituals, symbols, art, icons, etc., particularly in worship. I'll also respond to common objections to these things. And then toward the end of the message, I will specifically address how we're practicing communion at Grantham, before we partake of the Lord's Table together.

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday. Until then, may you be aware of the indwelling Christ and the Spirit's presence. And may God bless you so that you can be a blessing to others. Stay humble and holy, church.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S. Don't forget! To celebrate All Saints Day this year, we invite you to submit photos of “saints” in your life that have passed on. This can include photos of deceased friends, family members, or mentors that have been influential to your faith. The photos will be displayed on our sanctuary walls on October 27 and November 3 to represent the “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1). Please submit digital copies of photos to gcvisualarts@granthamchurch.org, or hard copies to Pastor David Perry’s church mailbox. Deadline to receive submissions is Sunday, October 20.

* 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,

There is a truth that has stuck with me from the first time I heard it. A truth that I have also learned from experience. It was a line from a film called Luther—a film about the life of Martin Luther, the 16th century Magisterial Reformer. At this point in the story, Luther has been living as an Augustinian monk, which included hours dedicated to prayer and worship, contemplation and service, and a disciplined life in the monastery.

After a few years of this, and after taking a pilgrimage to Rome and seeing the corruption of the Church, Luther begins struggling in his faith. He had many questions about the Bible, he was in turmoil about his concept of God, and he was full of frustration and doubt. Ever been there?

As you might imagine, Luther was deeply troubled by all of this and so he told his mentor and spiritual director about it. To Luther’s surprise, his superior told him he was going to send him off to study the Scriptures at the University of Wittenberg (where he would later teach and post his 95 Theses) and pastor the church there. Luther said, “I don’t believe this. Here I am losing my faith, feeling like a fool even to pray, and you’re sending me away?” And the elder replied, “We preach best what we need to learn the most.”

I have often felt like that. And this current series is no exception. I confess that what I’m preaching through in Spiritual and Religious is what God has recently been teaching me, as well as things that I need to learn the most. So, it’s current, it’s fresh, it’s compelling to me, and I am therefore feeling very passionate about it. For many years of my life, I felt like “religion” was about legalism and obligation, either something Pharisees invented to make us feel guilty, or something that God needs to remain happy with me. Neither of these things are true. As I’ve said many times, God doesn’t need religion, we do.

And so in the past few years, I feel there has been a gradual shifting of gears and the turning of a corner in my view of the Christian religion, which includes practices of prayer, Scripture reading, sacraments, creeds, confession, liturgies, etc. I don’t know all of the reasons for that, but I’m thanking God that I’m actually desiring these things out of love for him and a knowledge that I need them to be properly formed in my worship of Christ. Who knew that the Christian religion and religious practices could be so liberating and life-giving?!

All that to say, I pray that my conviction and passion for the content in this series will inspire you and our church to embrace the mystery and liturgical power of the Christian faith.

We continued our series this past Sunday with a message entitled, Jesus Was Religious (3 of 7). If you missed it, please give it a listen at our website or our podcast, as I presented the strongest case I know that Jesus was not only a religious person, but wants his followers to be religious as well. This coming Sunday, in a sermon called, Gracious Orthodoxy (4 of 7), I will share a bit about the birth of the Christian religion, our unity in a common creed, and why we need to be graciously uncompromising in the historic beliefs of Christianity. It’s all part of being spiritual and religious.

Finally, take note of October events at Grantham and consider how you want to engage:

  • October 11 – Empowering Women Seminar

  • October 11 – College Pumpkin Carving (see details below in Body Life)

  • October 13 – Meet the Pastors if you’re new to Grantham (sign up with the office)

  • October 13 – Communion after the sermon, The Power of Christian Liturgy

  • October 13 – Global Workers Sharing (with the Oberholsers) at 6:00 pm in A1

  • October 13 – Taizé at 7:30 pm in the sanctuary

  • October 27 – Trunk or Treat (see details below in Body Life)

I hope to see you this Sunday in worship. Until then, may the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S.  Do you believe in the ministry and mission of Grantham Church? We desire to grow as an intergenerational, convergent, third way congregation. We want to be the difference our polarized and disillusioned world needs to see in the church today. Do you want to help further the work we’re doing? You can do that by plugging into our ministries, serving as a volunteer, and by giving regularly to our unique expression of the church. If you’re interested in further engaging with the church, please contact Pastor Kelly. If you’d like to begin giving regularly, or you’d like to increase your giving, you can do that online, or by text (717-506-5028), cash, or envelope through our offering on Sunday morning. Contact Pastor Dan for more information or questions about giving. As we enter into the final stretch of the year, please prayerfully consider how God is calling you to invest in the people, ministries, and outreach of Grantham Church. Help us continue to grow and further our work for the Kingdom. Thank you!

* 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 just returned from a brief stay at Christian Retreat Center (CRC) with some our pastors in Susquehanna Conference. I always look forward to driving out to CRC and staying for a couple days. While it’s never easy leaving my family, I feel that I’m able to rest there with a bit of solitude in the mountains. I’m grateful for the time of refreshment that Bishop Bob and Heather Beaty planned for our pastors. Please keep them in your prayers. God has most definitely called them to lead our conference with a grand vision. That’s exciting, but as you might guess, it comes with many challenges.

So, if you have a minute, please send Bob an encouraging email (bbeaty@bicus.org) that you are praying for him and his family.

Did you miss the sermon on Sunday? Maybe you’d like to share it with someone? You can check out Spiritual But No Religious? (2 of 7) at our website and the Grantham Church Podcast. In the second installment of our Spiritual and Religious series, I shared how we are all religious beings by nature. The question is: “What do we love and are we aware of the liturgical forces that are shaping us, for better or for worse?” I invited us to see how religion is necessary in that it provides us with religious habits, rituals, and routines that help us to aim our loves at Christ instead of idols in the world.

This Sunday we will further that point with the message, Jesus Was Religious (3 of 7). We will see that Jesus was shaped by the Scriptures, a confession (creed), a religious calendar, and other religious habits. I’ll also be dealing with some common objections like, “Jesus was against religion” and “Jesus didn’t come to start a religion” and “Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship.” I hope you can join us as we continue to explore what it means to be spiritual and religious, and why we need more religion and not less of it in our post-modern age.

Finally, thank you for the encouraging words that many of you often share with me and our staff. It means a great deal to us that you recognize our callings and that you support your leadership in these difficult times (Heb 13:7). As one Christian leader recently said on a podcast created for pastors, we are now seeing major shifts in Western culture of the likes that haven’t been seen in several hundred years. All of these shifts impact you, the church, our community, and our nation. More than ever, pastors and leaders need your prayers, encouragement, and support in shepherding the church in a busy, loud, and polarized world. Thank you for joining with us in our struggle against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph 6:12).

And remember church, we are praying for you. We are shepherds for your sake, under the watchful eye of God. We love you and believe in the future of Grantham Church. May God continue to bless us as we submit our lives to his Spirit and give him our hearts, over and over again.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S.  I wanted to let you know that Harrisburg BIC had a big celebration last Sunday. They paid off their mortgage almost 7 years early! We thank God for this news. I know there were folks from Grantham who helped with that, so thank you for showing your support of our sister congregation across the river. Please pray for Hank Johnson (senior pastor) and their entire staff as they continue to grow as a congregation, and as they are also grieving the unexpected death of Cedra Washington’s daughter, Jaida. Pray for comfort and mercy as our brothers and sisters seek to move forward after this tragic turn of events.

* 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,

Every generation of the Church is located in a particular time and place within human history. When I was in high school, we had a word in response to a statement like that: “Duh!” In other words, that’s obvious. But here is the thing, while we can all easily acknowledge that statement is true, the Church often has a difficult time understanding what it means for how we should disciple folks, how we should evangelize, and how we should worship as the Body of Christ in our own context. So, I’d like us to consider two questions to help us think about where we are in time.

First, How should our church change in response to culture so that we are relevant to the people around us? Now, I don’t mean “relevant” in the way of mirroring the culture. We certainly don’t need more of that. No, I’m talking about using the gospel and our church practices to speak directly to where people are so that they might experience God’s presence and power; that the good news speaks to our needs, our fears, our anxieties, our politically polarized society, and everything else that is challenging and troubling us in our post-modern world.

Being relevant means that outdated programs and methods have to be laid to rest so that new expressions of ministry might be born to keep in step with the Spirit. We’ve been working on that at Grantham over the past few years. This is partly what growth looks like in the church. Even though growing comes with some aches and pains, if we’re going to effectively minister to people in the present and follow the Spirit into the future, we can celebrate the past while keeping our hearts open to ways the Spirit is leading today. It’s a challenge every local church faces, but we can meet the challenge.

And just think about how fast the world around us has changed since 9/11. As one church and culture researcher recently said, “For most of our American history, cultural and technological change was gradual, sufficiently paced for churches to lag only 5 to 10 years. Now churches are lagging 20 and 30 years as the speed of change increases dramatically. To many people, the church seems irrelevant.” Friends, I don’t believe that Grantham Church is irrelevant. God’s Spirit is at work and on the move! And I believe that whatever we need to do to remain relevant, the Lord will equip us to re-contextualize, change our approach, and adapt to the shifting culture around us so that we might continue shining the light of Christ to our neighbors. Let’s pray to that end.

So, change is important for every living organism But we need to ask an equally important question, What should remain the same? What traditions or historical practices help to keep us rooted in who we are (distinctives), connected to the larger Church (unity), and help us to proclaim that we are part of an old story that is ongoing—that the Spirit is alive within our congregation (mission)! You might be surprised to know that a growing number of young adults today (Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z) are not looking for a hipster, make-it-up-as-you-go church. They see great value in tradition and being connected to the past.

As Winfield Bevins says in his book, “Rather than looking for the new, they are returning to the old—even as they seek convergence between the old and new and develop new approaches to ancient traditions. Everything old is becoming new again” (Ever Ancient, Ever New: The Allure of Liturgy for a New Generation, pg.31).

That is what our fall series Spiritual and Religious is all about. An increasing number of people are longing for a Christianity that is more authentic, holistic, embodied, liturgical—something ancient, something new. They are seeking a faith that embraces mystery over empiricism, transcendence over scientism, and faith over certainty. They are not against sound doctrine, they just want a generous orthodoxy that welcomes everyone. They want a faith that more closely resembles the Jesus of the Gospels and the Christianity of the first few centuries of the Church. That sounds good to me. How about you?

I hope you will join us this Sunday as we continue to be challenged and inspired to embrace the mystery and liturgical power of the Christian faith—a way of life that is both spiritual and religious. In the meantime, may God bless you with his presence and surround you in his love as you seek to follow Jesus this week. God is for us, not against us. Selah.

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,

It was exciting to see a full house for our fall kickoff this past Sunday! Our staff recently reflected on how meaningful the morning was and how we were encouraged to see the Spirit at work. Thank you for participating in the start of a new season of ministry in the life of Grantham Church. I hope you received a blessing by gathering with your church family for worship.

If you missed the sermon on Sunday, you can listen to Ask, Seek, Knock at our website or on the go through the Grantham Church Podcast. If you listen to the podcast, you will notice that we’ve now added a greeting and intro that briefly describes who we are and where we’re going as a congregation. It’s a helpful reminder for those who worship with us, and an invitation to those podrishioners who don’t attend Grantham. Please let your friends and neighbors know about this ministry resource. And if you’re able, subscribe to the podcast and rate it so that it becomes more visible in the world of podcasts.

This coming Sunday we will begin our fall series, Spiritual and Religious. You may have heard the phrase: “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” It’s a common phrase used by many people today to self-identify as someone who values spirituality and the well-being of mind-body-spirit, while taking issue with organized religion. Even among many Christians, the term “religious” is often used as a pejorative term with connotations of hypocrisy, legalism, and a lack of genuine piety. So, we say things like “Jesus wasn’t religious” or “Christianity is not a religion” or that the Christian faith is “not about religion, it’s about a relationship.” But is that really true? If not, where did this modern disdain for religion come from? And what is at stake if we merely seek to be spiritual but not religious?

In this 7-week series, I’ll invite us to see that “spirituality” is honestly a vague, individualistic impulse toward the transcendent and it’s not enough to shape us as disciples of Jesus. As the New Testament will attest, there is good in religion. In fact, Christ himself was a religious Jew. And correctly understood, the Christian religion has handed down observance of the church calendar and Spirit-infused practices like prayer, Scripture, creeds, sacraments, and ancient liturgies to properly form us into his image.

God doesn’t need these things. We need them to be properly formed in our worship. Join us for a series that will challenge and inspire us to embrace the mystery and liturgical power of the Christian faith—a way of life that is both spiritual and religious.

Remember, change is inevitable, but growth is intentional (optional). How do you need to grow? Do you have questions? Are you struggling with doubt, anxiety, or a sense of purpose? Are you needing to discern God’s will for you and your family? Maybe you need the Spirit’s help to overcome negativity and criticism of others. It could be that you need to be moved out of your own complacency and cynicism. Whatever your need, I want to encourage you to be intentional in working the spaces of the church this fall. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Seek with your whole heart and you will find him.

As we continue to be intentional about moving forward in our faith, may we experience the grace that God gives us to grow our roots down deep into the love of Christ (Col 2:6-7). And may God bless our congregation as we put our hands to the plow of God’s Kingdom purposes and not look back. Onward and upward, Grantham Church!

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S.  Our mid-week meal is back with a fresh focus to meet new people and deepen our connections to one another in the church! Come out and show your support for our Community Meal this Wednesday night from 5:00-6:30 PM in the fellowship hall. This is a chance to get to know people. It’s a chance to listen to others and their stories. Our desire is that the Community Meal would serve as an intersection between the church, college, and greater community. We want to offer this meal as a reflection of God’s table that’s open and freely available to all. I hope to #SeeYouAtTheTable!

* 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