APRIL 19

10:15 I Facebook Live

 

Us Asking Acts/Acts Asking Us Part 2

Books and movies and campfire huddles are full of tales of secret maps, directions to treasure or secret lands of wonder. It’s easy for us to come to think of the Bible in the same way: an instruction book, a road map of sorts, giving instruction on how to find the treasure, how to make it to heaven. But Jesus is explicit in His instructions to all who would be His apprentices, disciples, to “Follow me.” It’s how we respond to this invitation/command from Jesus that marks us as Christians. But how to follow a risen and ascended Messiah? Someone who is not bodily present? How are we to understand the Bible more as an invitation into a discussion on this “following” than a static map we are to figure out on our own? 

 

Might I suggest it begins with asking questions, and letting the Bible ask us questions in return? Last summer we dove into the first half of the book of Acts, the story of the earliest followers of Jesus and what they did in response to Jesus’s command to “Go into the all the world and preach the Gospel to all nations.” We asked questions, and considered the questions the stories were asking us — a church in twenty-first century America. We did this to more clearly see how Jesus is leading us, that we might follow more faithfully. This summer we’ll pick up the conversation for the second part of the book. And man, are there some questions that need asking, both by us and to us. 

 

Grace and peace, y’all, 

 

J. Ray and the teaching team.

 

SPEAK UP/QUESTION of the WEEK

(type your response on the Grace Facebook Live page)

What is one question you are asking God about in the current situation?

​TEACHING: Find the passage Acts 14:1-28

 

The Big Idea:

People are asking questions, and offering answers. The Gospel is the only thing that does both in a way that ultimately brings life. 

 

Context

Here’s a map of Paul’s journeys and a brief timeline of his life. It’s important to note not all scholars agree on exact details. There are countless resources available to help chart all this out.

Questions for personal reflection: If you took notes from last summer’s series on Acts, dig them out and refresh your memory about the study. Reread the first 13 chapters, as well. Do you remember any of the questions from our study? Consider what new questions you might have in light of all the changes we’ve experienced since this time last summer.


Questions for small-group discussion: In this tumultuous season we’re asking a lot of questions — as a society, as a church, as a community. It’s especially important during these times of heightened awareness to ask the right questions in the right way. In our study this week, we dive back into “Acts Asking Us/Us Asking Acts.” In your group discussion, talk about the questions you have for our study this summer. Maybe take some time on a Zoom call to read the first 13 chapters as a way of prepping for our study.  

COMMUNION/REFLECTION/OFFERING

  • During this time, those gathered in homes should use the elements they have with them as we take communion together. We believe communion is an open table, welcoming all who seek Jesus. Use the elements you have at home as we take communion together. 

    • The link for giving your offering is here.

    • Use this time to reflect and commit to ask on what God the Holy Spirit is showing you during this time.

 

 

BENEDICTION

Grace Church, may the God of endurance and encouragement grant us to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together, even while separate, we may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

FOR THE KIDS

 

 

 

 

In today’s scripture, we begin a journey with the believers who started the first Christian churches.  What do you think these teams did first? What would you do first if you were starting the new church?

 

In the last few weeks, we built temples from Legos, and then destroyed them, noting that Jesus was doing something new!  The followers of Jesus are out to start the church with good news instead of using wood, hammers, and nails.  What is this “good news?!” It’s about a living God, “who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them.”  It’s about a God who hears us and is with us, even now. 
 

How can you share a message of good news right now, to people who are lonely or hurting?

Here are some ideas:  

  • Write a message of good news on your driveway or sidewalk with liquid chalk. 

  • Make a display for a front window of your home, possibly a stained-glass type piece of art.  

  • Send a text to someone you care about, or write an old-fashioned letter!  

  • Send a favorite pic from your parent’s phone to someone on a postcard using TouchNote

Have fun, and please share your good news deliveries with us on our social media outlets!

FOR FURTHER REFLECTION

 

  • Give a listen to John Ray and Bryan Kim talk about finding space for abiding during our current situation. 

 

  • How are you handling all the changes and new demands? Here’s a good outline for organizing and staying focused. 

 

  • What’s going to happen to the economy through all this? Here are some interesting thoughts.

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APRIL 12

10:15 I Facebook Live

 

WHO WILL ROLL AWAY the STONE FOR US?

I could hear the chaos of the children in the background and the exhaustion in her voice. I heard it in the halting half-laughter as he told me of a major pay cut and uncertain future in his job. I saw it in the fear and anxiety in her eyes as she tried to navigate the store but maintain sufficient distance, obviously forced into going out by lack of other options. I read it in the countless posts of people struggling, raging, lamenting, and trying their best to cope with the current situation. And I feel it myself, even though I’m relatively well-positioned and provided for. I feel the collective grief and uncertainty and loss that the world groans under. 

 

This Easter, it's as if the whole world is asking: Who will roll away this stone? 

 

Well friends, I have Good News! He is risen! The stone has been rolled away, and hope is here! Let’s join together in our homes this Sunday and celebrate!

 

Grace and peace, y’all, 

J. Ray

 

SPEAK UP/QUESTION of the WEEK

(type your response on the Grace Facebook Live page)

Have you participated in the “Neighborhood Howl”?

​TEACHING: Find the passage Mark 16:1-8

 

The Big Idea:

There is nothing that can keep Jesus from overcoming death and bringing resurrection. 

 

CONTEXT

So far in Mark we’ve seen Jesus display the nature and character of God to the public first, and then more privately to his close followers, the disciples. It’s at this juncture that he enters Jerusalem for what we know will be the last week of his life, though the first person witnesses did not know this. And in this epicenter of Jewish culture, Jesus challenges deeply held orthodoxy and so begins to solidify his enemies. And that is a large part of the backdrop of our text this week. But in so doing, he communicates the magnitude of himself, a magnitude that is a gift to each person who will acknowledge it.

Questions for personal reflection: How are you holding up? There’s no magic bullet for getting us through these times. Are you remembering/rediscovering the practices that give you peace? Help you grow in patience? How does the promise of Jesus overcoming death bring you hope in these times?


Questions for small-group discussion: Some say that this year we’re going to have two Easters, one this Sunday and one when we’re all able to meet together again in person. What other “Easters” are we longing for? What areas or relationships are you longing to see resurrected? Share these with your group over the coming week. 

COMMUNION/REFLECTION/OFFERING

  • During this time, those gathered in homes should use the elements they have with them as we take communion together. We believe communion is an open table, welcoming all who seek Jesus. Use the elements you have at home as we take communion together. 

    • The link for giving your offering is here.

    • Use this time to reflect and commit to ask on what God the Holy Spirit is showing you during this time.

 

 

BENEDICTION

And now, Grace Church, may the God of peace,

who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus,

equip us with all we need for doing his will.

He is risen! 

May he produce in us, through the power of Jesus Christ,

all that is pleasing to him.

All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the source of every mercy, the God of all consolation, comfort and provision.

Do not rely on yourselves alone, but put your trust in him.

For the God who can raise the dead to life again

will also deliver us!

To him be glory forever and ever.  Amen.

FOR THE KIDS

Supplies needed:  empty toilet paper tube, wax paper, a rubber band, paint or stickers 

 

Have any of you been going outside to join your neighbors to howl at 8:00 each night? Some of you might be in bed already … whoops! But here’s what’s happening around Fayetteville: .people are going outside at 8 p.m. and howling like coyotes.

 

One person said they wanted to start a fun tradition with their children, something to look forward to. Another said it’s a way to honor people in the healthcare field—a way for the community to come together in unity to participate in support of our brave doctors, nurses, and others who are working in hospitals and clinics.

 

We humans have needs:  a need to be heard, a need to express ourselves in hurt and in joy. This Easter Sunday, what is a message that you can shout out for yourself, and for a hurting world?  

 

Today or during this week, take the challenge to shout out your Easter message, and share it with us at #grace_church_nwa on Instagram, or on our Grace Church NWA Facebook page. You might write it on your sidewalk or driveway in chalk, or yell out, “He is risen!” at sunrise and bang on some pots and pans, or pull out your school recorder or other musical instrument you might have at your house.

 

You can use an empty toilet paper roll, some wax paper, and rubber bands to make your own kazoo! 

FOR FURTHER REFLECTION

  • Working Preacher commentary here and here, and podcast here

  •  

  • What are we to make of the silence at the end of this week’s text?

  •  

  • During every Lenten season — and especially during this one — we’re reminded of what can happen at the intersection of fear and joy.

 

BONUS: Good Mood Food

Save us a good table at the Tree of Forgiveness, John Prine.

APRIL 5

10:15 I Facebook Live

 

WHAT SHOULD WE LOOK FOR?

Well friends, Hosana feels a bit different this Palm Sunday, doesn’t it? I wonder how it felt for the people of Jerusalem all those years ago?

 

They weren’t quarantined, per se, but they were under the occupation of a enemy force. They were forced to abide by rules and orders that dramatically disrupted their lives. They were longing for time when they could gather again free from threat. Sound familiar?

 

As a result, they wanted, no they needed, signs. They needed hope. When would freedom come? When would they finally get to live the lives they wanted? The ones they felt promised by God?

 

The disciples wanted to know as much as anyone else. Yet when they asked Jesus, Jesus did what Jesus often does, and left them questioning what they should really be looking for. 

Grace and peace y’all,

SPEAK UP/QUESTION of the WEEK

(type your response on the Grace Facebook Live page)

Where are you finding joy these days?

MUS-IC

Desert Song (Hillsong United)

This is my prayer in the desert

When all that's within me feels dry

This is my prayer in my hunger and need

My God is the God who provides

 

This is my prayer in the fire

In weakness or trial or pain

There is a faith proved of more worth than gold

So refine me Lord through the flames

And I will bring praise, I will bring praise

No weapon formed against me shall remain

 

I will rejoice

I will declare

God is my victory and He is here

This is my prayer in the battle

When Triumph is still on its way

I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ

So firm on His promise I'll stand

All of my life

In every season You are still God

Ever Almighty (Passion)

Here we stand on this foundation

Hope as an anchor, faith as our flag

The cross as our courage, your Word as our way

Through wars and rumors of wars

Still You are sovereign, Still you are Lord

Above the confusion your covenant stands

For you have not, not for a moment

Abandoned Your promise to save

And You will not, not for a moment

Withdraw Your hand

Our God is ever almighty, Ever almighty to save

Our God is ever almighty, ever almighty always

Here and now, stone upon stone

The house You are building, A people Your own

Your kingdom unshaken, Your Church is alive

Now as one, with hearts all aflame

All our devotion is to Your great name

Exalted forever, Lord Jesus, You reign


TEACHING: Find the passage here

The Big Idea:

Jesus is in the business of unmaking and remaking things. We need to learn where to look if we aren’t going to panic in the process.

 

CONTEXT

So far in Mark we’ve seen Jesus display the nature and character of God to the public first, and then more privately to his close followers, the disciples. It’s at this juncture that he enters Jerusalem for what we know will be the last week of his life, though the first person witnesses did not know this. And in this epicenter of Jewish culture, Jesus challenges deeply held orthodoxy and so begins to solidify his enemies. And that is a large part of the backdrop of our text this week. But in so doing, he communicates the magnitude of himself, a magnitude that is a gift to each person who will acknowledge it.

Questions for personal reflection: Take some time this week and get quiet. I know it’s difficult, but practice. What is it you are really hoping for right now? What is it you want to see “resurrected”? Is it the right thing? Are you longing for what really matters? 


Questions for small-group discussion: Connect with others in your Grace Group this week and talk, text, message about the questions for personal reflection. We’re all in this together y’all.

MUS-IC

Trading My Sorrows (Darrell Evans)

I'm trading my sorrows

I'm trading my shame

I'm laying them down

For the joy of the Lord

We say yes Lord, yes Lord, yes yes Lord

yes Lord, yes Lord, yes yes Lord

yes Lord, yes Lord, yes yes Lord Amen

I am pressed but not crushed

Persecuted, not abandoned

Struck down but not destroyed

I am blessed beyond the curse

For his promise will endure

That his joy's gonna be my strength

Though the sorrow may last for the night

His joy comes in the morning

Our Great God (The Porter's Gate)

Eternal God, unchanging

Mysterious and unknown

Your boundless love, unfailing

In grace and mercy shown

 

Bright seraphim in ceaseless flight around Your glorious throne

They raise their voices day and night in praise to You alone

 

Hallelujah, Glory be to our great God

Hallelujah, Glory be to our great God

 

Lord, we are weak and frail

Helpless in the storm

Surround us with Your angels

Hold us in Your arms

 

Our cold and ruthless enemy, his pleasure is our harm

Rise up, O Lord, and he will flee before our sovereign God

 

Hallelujah, Glory be to our great God

Hallelujah, Glory be to our great God

 

Let every creature in the sea and every flying bird

Let every mountain, every field and valley of the earth

Let all the moons and all the stars in all the universe

Sing praises to the living God who rules them by His word

 

Hallelujah, Glory be to our great God

Hallelujah, Glory be to our great God

Hallelujah, Glory be to our great God

Hallelujah, Glory be to our great God

COMMUNION/REFLECTION/OFFERING

  • During this time, those gathered in homes should use the elements they have with them as we take communion together. We believe communion is an open table, welcoming all who seek Jesus. Use the elements you have at home as we take communion together. 

    • The link for giving your offering is here.

    • Use this time to reflect and commit to ask on what God the Holy Spirit is showing you during this time.

 

 

BENEDICTION

Grace Church the Temple of Jesus is not made with human

hands but in human hearts.

The Church of Jesus is not a building or program but a

people, we, those people. 

Turn and look for Jesus right now, right where you are. 

Do not panic, but instead look for all that is good and true and

beautiful that is and that is to come. 

Sing your Hosana from six feet apart, but sing them still. 

Maybe a bit louder. 

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen

FOR THE KIDS

  • You will need:  building blocks, paper, crayon or marker, scissors 

  • Instructions:  A couple of weeks ago, we heard Jesus saying He is the cornerstone, and we were asked to make a Lego structure with a different-colored cornerstone to represent Jesus as a strong anchor in what we’re building.  Today’s scripture opens with one of the disciples marveling at the large stones and size of the temple. Jesus then tells this follower that even though this building looks very big and very strong, it will be destroyed.  As John talks today, please trace around your hand on a piece of paper, draw a heart in the palm of your hand, and then cut out the hand with scissors. Place the cut-out hand on the surface where you’re working, and then build a strong building that you think looks like a temple on top of it.  

 

(When the message is finished, ask the kids to destroy the building….What remains?  You see, Jesus was telling his followers then, and keeps telling us now, that He is doing a new thing.  He has a plan for us to be the Spirit-empowered church….not a building, but a people. Keep your hand and heart close this week to remind you about what it means to be the church to the people in your circles.)

FOR FURTHER REFLECTION

 

BONUS: Good Mood Food

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am — stuck at home, because Coronavirus.

Something really beautiful to consider