COVID-19: A Response

If you are reading this, your life has been turned around, upside-down, and sideways by a virus that we didn’t see coming. Some of us are handling this better than I am… but most of us are still trying to get our feet underneath us as new information comes out every day that feels like it can rock our world at every turn.
As you interact with your own journey through the COVID-19 crisis, I would love Grafted to be a people that can walk along with you. We can gather our turned around, upside-down, and sideways lives and find ways to make it through together.
One of the keys to finding the light at the end of the tunnel is to know two basic truths: God is good and God is in control. These two truths can create a tension when we look out our windows and the world doesn’t look either good nor in control. Living in this tension can be difficult, but if we do it together, it makes it just a bit easier.

In order to be socially responsible, loving to the physically vulnerable among us, caring for those who are caring for the sick among us, and love our neighbors, Grafted is going to not meet physically on Sundays until a time when we can do so safely for everyone. We are going to rely on the suggestions of the CDC, the Minnesota Government, and the United State Government to know when that time comes. Until we can meet together physical and worship God together face to face, we will be gathering online on Sundays on Facebook to worship God through song, to look at His word, and to hear a meditation from one of our Elders. If you would like to have access to the privately streamed service: contact Pastor Dave and he will do his best to figure out how to get you connected!

Our Small Groups are still going to be the bread and butter of our church! We may not be able to meet in person, share a meal, or hug each other in excitement or sorrow, we can still check in on each other, we can pray for each other, we can study the Bible together, and we can remind each other of the love God has shown to us through His Son. Some of our Small Groups meet using Facebook, others with Zoom, but all of them are trying to care for everyone in the group. If you would like to get connected to a group, Pastor Dave, is once again the person to go to in this time. He will get you in contact with one of the small groups so that you can have someone to walk with you during this time.

In all of this, we are trying to do our best to distance from each other physically. But this is a wonderful time to connect with each other, to pray for each other, to connect with God, and to connect with ourselves. If you would like to talk more, Pastor Dave is one resource, but there are so many other Grafites with whom you can connect. Don’t be afraid to reach out!

Thank you for continuing to be the church while the church building may be shut down. We might not know exactly how to do everything… but we are working on getting better and better at being the Family of God even as the times change!

From 2020 into 2021

With 2020 now behind us and 2021 in full swing, I think it might be time to consider one of the most important lessons that this past year could have taught us.

No matter what we put our hopes and dreams in, no matter what we thought was going to bring us fulfillment in our lives, no matter if it was having a schedule or having free time to go on adventures, no matter if it was our relative health and safety, no matter if it was seeing our family and friends, no matter if it was attending a regularly scheduled church service or a regularly scheduled gathering at a restaurant or bar with friends, no matter if it was the relative ease with which I could talk about Jim Crow and racism as a thing of the past, no matter if it was watching sports or movies, no matter if it was going to the gym or Fantasy Flight to play a new board game, no matter if it was traveling abroad or staying in our cities, no matter if it is something as simple as assuming we can easily draw our next breaths, no matter what… 2020 showed us that if we are trying to make our source of life something that is temporal, it is ultimately temporary will eventually fail us.

The only way that we are ever going to assured of having a source on which we can draw, no matter what is happening around us, is if we look for something eternal, something unchanging, something outside of our world, something that has proven itself, something that doesn’t rely on us…2020, with all its crazinesses and frustrations, was a year that has cried out to everyone, “there is something more than this.”

As we move into 2021, let us spend some time looking to the wisdom of those who have gone before us and learn about the claims of the one who has declared that he was the source of life that will never run dry, who declared with his final breath that it was completed, and of whom it was said that in his death the love of God has been demonstrated for everyone, no matter what might have been in their past.

Let us take this year and grow strong roots into the Messiah, and allow Him to become our source of life, so that when the next set of storms come, we will not be shaken!

Communion: Looking at 1 Cor. 11:17-34, Remembrance.

When we gathered during the summer and fall of 2020 to take communion in the Harrington’s back yard, we took a look at 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 from three different angles: Unity, Taking Communion in a Worthy Manner, and Remembrance. This series of blog posts are an attempt to allow those who missed the service to still interact with the teaching, just like they would if we were posting an audio file online at a later date. If you would like to read the passage for yourself, it is available at the bottom of this post.

The first month we gathered for Communion we talked through how this symbolic meal should be done in and bring about a greater spirit of unity for those who partake in it. The second month we discussed how communion should not be entered into lightly, but rather we should enter into some examination of our relation to Christ and His body. In this final month we focused on the words of Jesus that Paul quotes in this passage: “do this in remembrance of me.”

At least that was the plan… we planned on talking about how Jesus calls us to remember what God has done in the past, what God will do in the future, and what you are doing be partaking in this meal. But this service was VERY COLD!!! I mean… holy cats. This was a cold service. (Hats off to Pat Harrington for being willing to lead us in worship while having to touch the metal strings on his guitar…)

Instead of fully discussing these ideas, I pretty much just put out an outline in hopes that the ideas would fill in themselves.

Considering what God has done in the past, I threw out the idea that the first communion took place at a Passover meal. This meal was designed to help the people of God remember that Israel had been saved from Death (either at the hands of the Egyptians or the final plague designed to encourage Pharaoh to set the Israelites free), and saved through Death (specifically the death of an animal in the place of the death of a person). This corresponds wonderfully to the thing that Christians are called to remember in the communion ceremony: the face that we have been saved from our own death, earned by us because of our sins, through the death of someone else in our place: Jesus the Christ.

Considering what God will do in the future, I threw out that Paul reminds those in Corinth, “26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Remembering that Jesus is coming back to set up a Kingdom where there is no sin, sickness or death is vital for every Christian. And communion should remind us that there will be a day that we can feast in the presence of the True King!

And lastly, we considered what we are doing… We are declaring the Lord’s Death and how it is saving us from and through death. We are declaring our trust in Jesus’s personal and glorious return.

Unity, Examination, and Remembrance… three huge tasks that are accomplished by such a simple meal of bread and juice.

As we take communion today, after we each have the some bread and some juice, we are going to spend a little bit of time examining and discerning our relationships to the Body of Christ. remembering all that Jesus has done for us, and then we will once again take communion all together.

Does anyone need either of the elements? Please send up a representative from your family unit if you do one at a time… Everyone ready?

Here we go. I will give you a few moments between each question for your own reflection.

First: Examine yourself. What did YOU do to the Body of Christ?
Second: Discern the Body of Christ. What did the Body of Christ do for you?
Third: Discern Ourselves. What interactions with other people have you had that perpetuate the need for the Body of Christ to be broken for you?

The body of Christ broken for you. Everyone please eat some of your bread.

The Blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of your sins. Everyone please drink some of your juice.

Please pray with me and I will invite Pat to please come up and lead us in a song of response…

1 Corinthians 11:17-34

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.
33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.
And when I come I will give further directions.

Communion: Looking at 1 Cor. 11:17-34, Examination.

When we gathered during the summer and fall of 2020 to take communion in the Harrington’s back yard, we took a look at 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 from three different angles: Unity, Taking Communion in a Worthy Manner, and Remembrance. This series of blog posts are an attempt to allow those who missed the service to still interact with the teaching, just like they would if we were posting an audio file online at a later date. If you would like to read the passage for yourself, it is available at the bottom of this post.

The second way that we looked at this passage was to look at it through the lens of Taking Communion in a Worthy Manner.

Last month we looked at this passage through the lens of Unity, how communion was supposed to be an action that reminded the followers of Jesus of the unity that they share with each other because of their union with Christ. I think that this lens was the predominant one that was needed for the church in Corinth at the time Paul wrote his letter to them.

But by focusing on unity, we ended up skipping over some other ideas in this text! This month we are going to focus on verses 27-31 of this passage.

This section begins with the verse, “27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.” While this verse may be a bit confusing at first glance, I think that the following verses explain how a person taking communion can avoid sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.

Verse 28 encourages the individuals in Corinth to examine themselves. And so, I supposed we should do the same. What have we done to the physical body of Christ? While I may not have been alive, I know that it was to forgive my sins that Christ’s body was broken. My sinful actions have earned the consequence of the death of the Son of God. The wages of my sin was the death of Jesus Christ, my Lord. Grafted Community Church: what sins have you individually committed that sent Jesus to the cross?

Verse 29 warn that discerning the Body of Christ is of incredibly high value for those who are taking communion. I think we have the chance to consider not only what we did to the body of Christ, but what that body did for us. While Christ’s death did cover over my sins, it also brings me into the family of God. While my wages have been paid by Jesus, the gift of eternal life also came to me through that same death. While we sinned against God, He demonstrated His love for us by dying for us! Grafted Community Church: what have you received from God through the Body of Jesus, crucified on a cross?

Verse 31 encourages the church at Corinth to discern themselves… not as individuals, but as a whole community. A relationship with God cannot be separated from a relationship with His image bearers. My actions towards you, towards my co-workers, towards my family effect, reflect, and often damage the way we interact with God. Our relationships with God are only ever half perfect for sure… and that half doesn’t come from you and me… But, Grafted Community Church: What are some of the ways that your interactions with other people perpetuate the need for the Body of Christ to have been broken for you?

As we take communion today, after we each have the some bread and some juice, we are going to spend a little bit of time examining and discerning our relationships to the Body of Christ. and then we will once again take communion all together.

Does anyone need either of the elements? Please send up a representative from your family unit if you do one at a time. Everyone ready?

Here we go. I will give you a few moments between each question for your own reflection.

First: Examine yourself. What did YOU do to the Body of Christ?
Second: Discern the Body of Christ. What did the Body of Christ do for you?
Third: Discern Ourselves. What interactions with other people have you had that perpetuate the need for the Body of Christ to be broken for you?

The body of Christ broken for you. Everyone please eat some of your bread.

The Blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of your sins. Everyone please drink some of your juice.

Please pray with me and I will invite Pat to please come up and lead us in a song of response…

1 Corinthians 11:17-34

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

And when I come I will give further directions.

Communion: Looking at 1 Cor. 11:17-34, Unity.

When we gathered during the summer and fall of 2020 to take communion in the Harrington’s back yard, we took a look at 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 from three different angles: Unity, Taking Communion in a Worthy Manner, and Remembrance. This series of blog posts are an attempt to allow those who missed the service to still interact with the teaching, just like they would if we were posting an audio file online at a later date. If you would like to read the passage for yourself, it is available at the bottom of this post.

The first way that we looked at this passage was to look at it through the lens of Unity.

Throughout this letter to the church in Corinth, Paul has banged out a very steady rhythm that the Christians at Corinth should work incredibly hard to maintain Unity instead of being divided over anything. And so when it came to considering Communion, or as Paul called it, the Lord’s Supper, he continued to drum this same beat. Divisions in the Body of Christ are Bad, and Unity in the Body of Christ is Good.

In verses 18-21, Paul doesn’t just declare these two ideas, he mocks the Corinthians using a passive aggressive tone that my grandmother would have be proud of:
19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.
Paul says that when Communion is conducted in a way that creates division between different parts of the church, that this meal no longer constitutes the Lord’s Supper… but is instead something else entirely.

The divisions that Paul was taking on in Corinth stemmed from social and economic class differences between the members of the church. Verse 22 talks about some of the church owning homes to eat and drink in, while other have nothing. I think this points to a group of people who own property and to those who work the property. Those who were of the land owning class would eat and have their fill before those who were working the fields had a chance to come in from the work of the day.

Paul calls out this division between the “Haves” and the “Have-nots” in his day as completely dishonoring to the ideas that the Lord’s Supper is supposed to represent: unity between all of those who are partaking in this meal. Today we are faced with other separations: the color of our skin, our work schedules, how we are reacting to SARS-CoV-2 and the accompanying disease COVID-19, our political affiliations, the cities in which we live and play, and some divisions are even as basic as through what lens we read the Bible. No matter what may divide us, it looks as if Paul would plainly ask us to consider that Communion should symbolize the Unity that should break through any ultimately superficial division that exists within the family of God because there was one life, one sacrifice, one spirit, one God that brought us all together.

In the end Paul made the very applicable comments, “you should all eat together,” and, “anyone who is hungry should eat something at home.” (v33-34) I remember growing up thinking that the bread and juice were a snack time in the middle of the service, just like how we had snack time in the middle of the day at preschool and Kindergarten. But, this meal is not to be used as a means of gaining nutrition for those who are partaking in it, rather it should epitomize the nature of the unity we are share in Christ. Christians have often individualized this symbolic meal, we have especially fallen into this habit at Grafted… but I am very excited to be able to participate in a different kind of communion today.

Today we are going to all make sure that we have the elements that we need, some bread product and some juice product, and then we will together take in the symbolic body and blood of Jesus.
Does anyone need either of the elements? Please send up a representative from your family unit if you do one at a time. Everyone ready?

The body of Christ broken for you. Everyone please eat some of your bread.

The Blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of your sins. Everyone please drink some of your juice.

Please pray with me and I will invite Steven and Yana to please come up and lead us in a song of response…

1 Corinthians 11:17-34 NIV

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.
33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.
And when I come I will give further directions.

Communion: Looking at 1 Cor. 11:17-34, an introduction.

The Summer of 2020 is going to go down in our memories as a year like no other. Grafted’s response to COVID-19 put us in a position where we were no longer meeting every week in order to share in the symbolic meal we call Communion.

We did gather 3 different times to participate in this meal, some of us in person and some of us over Zoom. We had a shortened service, we all wore masks, our communion was individually packaged for each family, and by the end being outside felt VERY cold! But over those 3 services we looked at a passage in one of Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth, known today as 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. We looked at this passage from 3 different angles: Unity, Taking Communion in a Worthy Manner, and Remembrance.

We have not been putting the audio file of the sermon online, because Communion has the implication, built into its name, that it is to be done communally… That doesn’t mean that we can’t have some form of the sermons available for those who missed them!

Over the next 3 blog posts I intend to look at 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 through the 3 lenses of Unity, Taking Communion in a Worthy Manner, and Remembrance. Typically I preach my sermons from a manuscript, and so it would be easy to recreate what I said nearly word for word… But for these three weeks I preached from just a few notes. So I humbly apologize to those who missed the sermons when they were first presented. But I hope you find these posts helpful as you continue to practice taking communion for years to come!

Before you continue on to read the other three posts, here is a copy of the text we will be looking at:

1 Corinthians 11:17-34 NIV

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.
33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.
And when I come I will give further directions.

Responses to COVID-19

It is no suprise to anyone to hear that 2020 has been an incredibly rough year. From wildfires in the eastern States and Australia to fires on the streets of Minneapolis, from murder hornets to devastating hurricanes… and throughout all of it we have had a global health crisis caused by the novel corona virus SARS-CoV-2 and the resultant disease from contracting the virus, COVID-19.

As we have journeyed through this year, one of the hardest parts I have found is that because I have never lived through anything like this I don’t have the language to discuss everything that is happening with other people. This is something I hope we can change, at least for inside our church .

This past Sunday, 9/20/2020, for the “Grafted Story” during the service, I proposed some language that we could use to understand and discuss each other’s reaction to COVID-19. I had a ton of help from both Grafites and my church planting coach, Steve Treichler. I want to make sure that this information was available for everyone who happened to miss the service! It all starts with this graphic:

5 Responses to COVID-19 (audio from 9/20/2020 Sermon)

I proposed that we use these 5 different responses to help us talk about how we and others are responding to COVID-19.

The CARELESS person is one who thinks that there is no pandemic, it is all made up by the government to control us, and that people who are responding in any way other than to go about their daily lives as they normally would are sheeple, evil, and perhaps under demonic control.

The CHILL person sees the pandemic and the emotional pain this year has caused many, and responds to the overarching problems with only minimal changes to their daily routine. This person is willing to put a mask on when they go in a store or around those who have asked them to do so, but if it were up to them, they would just meet outside, 6 feet apart if possible, and forego the face coverings.

The CONSCIOUS person sees the pandemic and the emotional pain this year has caused many, and is attempting their best to live in a difficult balance required by the tension between the desire to slow the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the human need for social interaction. This person will still meet with folks, but will want everyone to be wearing masks, keep strict 6 feet between people, and will most likely not eat food in the presence of those who are not from their household.

The CAUTIOUS person sees the pandemic and the emotional pain this year has caused many, and responds, out of love for others, primarily by trying to save as many lives as possible from the effects that COVID-19 can have on the human body. This person will want as many meetings as possible to take place over a phone call or zoom and will seek to find social interaction in an online format as much as possible.

The CAUSTIC person has changed their life the most because of COVID-19. They may be interacting with the world much like the CAUTIOUS person, but the trait that sets them apart is the way they think about everyone else. The CAUSTIC person thinks that everyone who is doing anything other than remaining in quarantine until COVID-19 has been defeated hates humanity, is evil, and they hope that THAT person ends up on a respirator close to death because of their ignorance.

As we think about these 5 responses, I want us to see a couple of differnt things. First, these responses are on a scale (1-5) instead of being binary (on or off). People are all over the map in response to this unprecedented in our lifetime global event. Human nature is often much more nuanced than falling along a strict dividing line between right and wrong. (As a bonus: I think I have identified as all 5 of these since March! <sigh> Shoot me an email dave@graftedcc.com to hear about my journey and you can tell me yours.)

Second, these pictures depict each person from CARELESS to CAUSTIC as the same photo. This is because no matter where a person fall on this scale, they are still a sinner in need of mercy and forgiveness from God and from us. Underneath our skin and opinions we all are skeletons that look very similar! No matter a person’s response, our job as followers of Jesus is to extend extravagant love, like the kind shown to us while we were still enemies of God.

Thirdly, the 2 ends of this scale have a different background color from the middle three. The purely CARELESS and the purely CAUSTIC person demonizes and objectifies people who are not like them. This is not a response that should be present in the Kingdom of God. Those who are not like us are the very people that Jesus told us are our neighbors, people followers of Jesus are commanded to love.

This language of CARELESS, CHILL, CONSCIOUS, CAUTIOUS, and CAUSTIC is going to be important for us to have in our back pockets if we are going to figure out how to gather in communities, both large and small, as the COVID era continues forward.

The Sermon on the Mount: Teachings from the King

The life of Jesus, as it was recorded by His follower Matthew, contains many miraculous stories and many confused people, is set in a world that is very different from ours, yet is similar enough because it is filled with broken searching people, just like today, and holds 5 big blocks of teaching from Jesus.

The first of these blocks has been called The Sermon on the Mount because,

1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.

Matthew 5:1-2

These words contain some of most clear teachings on how Jesus expects His Kingdom to look. And so, there is a lot here.

We will be breaking this sermon series into smaller mini-series to help us have a clearer road map of what Jesus is talking about in each section. Jump in at any time. We will do our best to always catch everyone up to where we are, hoping that at the end of this series we will have a firmer grasp on the teachings of the King.

You can listen to the sermon series here.

Habakkuk: Conversation with God in a Time of Crisis

This, admittedly short, minor prophet in the Old Testament is incredibly unique. In it we don’t find Habakkuk preaching long sermons about how to follow God. Habakkuk doesn’t ever address Israel or Judah directly.

Instead what we find is a conversation between Habakkuk and God about the current situation for the people of God . The book of Habakkuk starts with the prophet asking God to rid His people of the sin that has become ubiquitous. And it ends with Habakkuk faithfully and patiently waiting, trusting that the God of all goodness is going to do what is best.

Listen to the sermons from this series here.

Psalm a Day?

Well, I must say that this spring has not been the spring I thought it was going to be. I thought we were going to be looking into our Constitution together (which is a few years old and in need of tweaking). I was looking forward to gathering each Sunday to worship with all of you face to face (because the value of worshiping in each other’s presence is immeasurable better than either not or doing so on an online platform). I was excited about getting back to posting on the blog once a week (which is something that had been put on the back burner at some point during the year of chemo treatments for Chelsea). I was even considering what it would look like to update our web page (which many hours have gone into making it as good as it is… and there are some areas that need a bit of touching up).

But instead, a global pandemic erupted when a novel coronavirus started spreading and causing the illness known as COVID-19. Which changed things drastically.

There are many areas where I am lamenting the loss of the future memories I thought I was going to be making. But there are also a couple areas that I think can be really exciting!

One reality is that most of our neighbors are home at a level that we have never seen before. Which has led to two realities:

  1. Most people are craving some kind of social interaction also at unprecedented levels. Just a simple walk outside at the same time every day will yield incredible dividends in building relationships with your neighbors. You will run into so many people, and as you pass them on the sidewalk, step slightly into the road, and carry on a normal conversation 6 feet apart, relationship building is happening without much effort on anyone’s part.
  2. People are ingesting online content like it’s their job. There is such a low threshold for so many to head online looking for a distraction from the loneliness, confusion, frustration, and fear that surrounds them.

These two realities have created a wonderful time to be spreading the good news that God has shown off His love for us in His sacrificial death. I am not advocating for taking advantage of anyone’s misfortune (see last week’s blog post), I am only saying that we are in the middle of a time that is like no other that has occurred in any of our lives.

If you are at a place where you aren’t quite sure what to do, sharing a bit of encouragement on your Facebook wall or in the Twitterverse that is Gospel Centered is a simple way to start. You don’t need to go overboard and post every single encouraging thing you see every moment of every day. Eventually those posts just become white noise that people no longer listen to… But a post a day that encourages you to follow Jesus might encourage a friend or follower to follow Jesus in a way that you may never have seen coming.

While there are a ton of resources out there of Gospel Centered Content, I have been trying to lend my voice to the mix as well. I have been posting around noon every day for the past month looking at a single Psalm every day. It is not an incredibly deep dive into each one, but rather all I do is read the Psalm, notice what I am encouraged by in the Psalm, and then share it with whomever happens to be watching. It might just be the thing that you need each day; it might just be what your friend needs today.

These certainly are odd times. And odd times sometimes call us to rethink the way we go about our normal lives. What are you going to do to connect with your neighbor this week?

Sunday Worship, for now…

Looking for a way to connect to Grafted?
Our services are currently being live streamed every Sunday at 4:00 PM in our Private Facebook Group where we can worship God through music, share prayer requests, and listen to a teaching from the Bible together.
If you want to check it out, email Pastor Dave at dave@graftedcc.com and he will make sure you have access!
Hope to see you there!