Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

It is getting cold outside! Please stay warm and safe over the next 48 hours.

Did you miss any of our January Peacemakers series? If so, you can find all of the sermons in the series at our website or at the Grantham Church Podcast via iTunes. Shane Claiborne concluded the series this past Sunday with a powerful message called, Blessed are the Peacemakers (4 of 4). Shane’s words in the Learning Community and at the lunch/Q&A were challenging and inspiring.

As I have been reflecting on the Peacemakers series, there are a few things that stand out to me that I’d like our congregation to put into regular practice: (1) We need to seek out friendships with those whom we disagree; (2) We need to listen to people’s stories (e.g. “Tell me why you feel/believe that way?”); (3) We need to always remember that there are real people (with their own story) on the receiving end of our words, so be slow to speak and quick to listen.

Each week in our series, we were reminded the Jesus calls us to love those made in God’s image, which includes our neighbors and our enemies. I pray that we will be the sort of congregation that exudes that love and puts into practice all of the helpful wisdom we received in our series. May we be known by our love as we make room at the table for everyone who would come. Our community needs to see us model this in our church, for such a time as this. I’m confident we’re on this path together. And I’m hopeful about the future of Grantham Church.

Please join us this Sunday for the kick off of our spring learning communities and another meaningful time of corporate worship. I’ll be sharing the results of our Peace Sunday Offering and preaching a sermon called, God’s Good Future. I’ll invite us to consider why I think our best days are not behind us (i.e. “good old days”), but in front of us, if we will deepen our trust in God for his good future—for our lives, our church, and our world. I’ll be preaching from Exodus 33:12-17. We will close the service by sharing in communion together.

Also, we are unveiling our new bulletin design this Sunday! As I said last week, we have adopted a clean and simple look that will be attractive to visitors (warm and inviting) and helpful for our intergenerational congregation. You will notice a few changes, but the biggest change you’ll see is that we have removed all of the announcements. We have done this for two primary reasons: (1) We have put together a bulletin that is focused on the worship service; (2) We wanted to consolidate all of our announcements into one “go to” place for what’s happening in our church.

So, where can you find out about all of the ministries and opportunities to get involved at Grantham Church? We’re calling it the Body Life. Sound familiar? Grantham has had this before, but this time it’s a little different. The “Body Life” can be found below my weekly email/letter. In addition to our website, we’re encouraging you to get all of your information from this digital form of communication.

For those who don’t have email, who would like a hard copy, or who are visiting with us, there will be a few copies (print out) of the Body Life at our Information Centers, located at each entrance to our building. We’re certain that his new Body Life will save us time, energy, and paper. And it will simplify the way you receive information from the church office. Thank you for moving with us in this new direction!

May God continue to bless Grantham Church as we seek to contextualize the gospel and adapt our ministry practices for this unique time in our history.

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’s been an inspiring month at Grantham Church! Osheta Moore was with us this past Sunday. Osheta shared a practical message called, We Will Tell Better Stories, message 3 of 4 in our Peacemakers series. I’m so glad that we were able to meet at our regular times and benefit from Osheta’s ministry.

Thankfully, the winter weather wasn’t as bad as they had predicted. We were anticipating the worst, so I took the opportunity on Saturday morning to sit down with Osheta and have a 50-minute conversation about being peacemakers via social media, email, text, etc. If you missed the Learning Community or the Worship Service, we cover all of her content AND MORE in our podcasted conversation. You can listen to my interview with Osheta at our website or through the Grantham Church Podcast on iTunes.

This coming weekend is Peace Sunday and it will be the conclusion of our Peacemakers series. As you know by now, Shane Claiborne will be our special guest speaker. Shane Claiborne is a prominent speaker, activist, and best-selling author. Shane worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, and founded The Simple Way in Philadelphia. He heads up Red Letter Christians, a movement of folks who are committed to living as if Jesus meant the things he said. Shane will challenge and inspire us with his stories of how peace-making changes the world around us. You’re not going to want to miss this!

Shane will be sharing his personal story (“From Evangelical Fundamentalist to Neo-Anabaptist Activist”) in the combined Learning Community at 9:00 am. Because we’re expecting a slightly larger crowd, the Learning Community will be held in the fellowship hall. Shane will be preaching in the Worship Service at 10:30 am, a message entitled, Blessed are the Peacemakers: Reimagining the Church as Ministers of Reconciliation. Immediately following the service, you’re invited to join us for lunch and Q&A with Shane in the fellowship hall.

Don’t forget that we will be receiving our annual Peace Sunday Offering following Shane’s message in the service. This year the offering is being split between three projects: (1) the Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) at Eastern Mennonite University; (2) Peace Clubs in Zambia; (3) and a Peacemakers Workshop with Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, which will be held here at Grantham Church on Saturday, April 27. You will hear more about the workshop this Sunday. You will also receive a bulletin insert with a brief summary of each of these projects.

Our Peace Sunday Offering goal this year is $3,000. I’m confident that we can reach that goal and help further peace-making locally and around the world. Thank you for prayerfully considering what God would have you to give to this special offering. Peace Sunday envelopes will be in the pews and ready for you to use when you come to worship, if you’d like to give that way.

Finally, two weeks ago I shared that we have been working on a new bulletin design and would be unveiling that on Sunday, February 3. After listening to what our church values in a bulletin, and after considering past iterations of the bulletin, the pastoral staff has worked with Lisa Mays, our Communications Director, in putting together a bulletin that we feel is warm, inviting, and easy to read. Lisa, who has expertise in designing church bulletins and brochures, has helped us to create a clean and simple look that will be attractive to visitors, and helpful for our intergenerational congregation. I’m really excited about this new design, and I believe that you will be happy with it as well. Next week I’ll share about the biggest change we’re making with the bulletin and what you can expect to see on Feb 3.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S. Our church family is working to provide assistance to those impacted by the federal government shutdown. If you wish to help with these efforts, please consider making a donation to the Deacon Fund via the offering on Sunday or by giving online. Please continue to pray for those impacted. When one of us suffers, we all suffer. Thank you for your support!

* 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’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