youtube thumbnail 040322.png

April 3rd, 2022

10:15am I Facebook Live & Zoom

Watch last week's message here

 

Title

What do you expect?

Worship Lyrics

Text

Mark 1:29-2:12 (NET)

Introduction

I write this on a cloudy, breezy morning in the Texas Hill Country. I’m here to relax for a couple of days and gather my thoughts before heading to Austin, my hometown. I’m going for a somber reunion, a gathering of former classmates who witnessed a horrible tragedy that affected all of our lives in unimaginable ways. I’m tasked with speaking some words at the graveside of our former teacher. What am I to say? 

What are any of us, especially those of us who call ourselves Christians, to say in the face of insurmountable, unfixable tragedy? The cancer diagnosis, the divorce decree, the ethnic cleansing, the descent into dementia… how do we reconcile these realities with the testimony we have in our verses this week of Jesus miraculously healing? Is it of Jesus changing the inevitable outcome of disease or possession? Does God still do miracles today? Is God the same now as God was then? Are we? 

These are all essential questions to consider and there are no easy answers. But I do think there is a way to approach this that leads us forward. Let’s dig in together and see what we can find. 

Grace and peace y’all, 

John Ray and the teaching team
 

The Big Idea: 

Jesus uses miracles as a means to a much bigger end. 

Take Away: 

The testimony of Jesus miracles points us to the much bigger truth. This invites us to open our imaginations to a much different understanding of what is real, what is possible, and what we can hope for.

How does this fit with "Belong, Become, Believe"? 

At Grace, we practice hospitality, the invitation to belong, as a reflection of how God was shown each of us the ultimate hospitality. Through this practice, we are formed more and more into the image of God and this in turn forms and is formed by the confession of our faith. 

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  • What was the purpose for Jesus miracles?

  • Is God the same now as God was then? Are we? How are we the same? How are we different?

  • What kind of imagination does God having this authority and presence open for us?

 

What's Next?

Palm Sunday!

Contact Grace Church NWA here

youtube thumbnail 041022.png

April 10th, 2022

10:15am I Facebook Live & Zoom

Watch last week's message here

 

Title

What's Covenant Got to Do With it?

Worship Lyrics

Text

Mark 14:12-22 (NET)

Introduction

The moment came when I finally snapped. The pressure had mounted for so long, the weight of caring for a growing family on over taxed resources, like trying to find water in dried up creek, the relentless summer heat spent with a minivan with no AC and windows that quit rolling down. The swelling anger and confusion that comes with feeling abandoned, misunderstood and incompetent. All of it swirling around until finally, I couldn’t hold it any longer. I slammed the Olds into park, got out on the side of the dusty road and let God have it. I screamed, accused and cussed, until exhausted. And then I waited, waited for the blistering response, the bolt of lightning, leprosy, some form of diving wrath. 

And all I got in response was grace, a sense that God said “finally” in the way a loving parent does when a child is finally ready to be honest. All I got was love. Y’all - it broke me. It still breaks me yet today. I was so full of fear until the fear and hurt it finally erupted in anger and then I was even more fearful, sure that I had crossed the line and God was going to retaliate. It changed something in me, turned me around. It didn’t fix things, all the pressures were still there, but it started me on a different path, one I’m still coming to fully understand, one I see described so clearly in our text this week. Let’s dive in and see what we can find. 

Grace and peace y’all, 

John Ray and the teaching team
 

The Big Idea: 

Jesus presence ushers in a whole new “covenant”, or way of understanding God’s posture towards us.

Take Away: 

When we see Jesus, we see God and we see God’s posture towards us. This is the clearest demonstration of covenant we have. 

How does this fit with "Belong, Become, Believe"? 

At Grace Church we practice radical hospitality as a reflection of God’s covenant with us as expressed in the person and practices of Jesus. Our imitating practice is what helps form us more and more into the likeness of Jesus. It also enlightens our beliefs.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  • Take time to read Mark’s description of the “Last Supper” and put yourself in the story. What questions does it bring up?

  • If you were one of those at the table with Jesus, what questions would you have had? How might you have responded?

  • How does this explanation of Covenant align or diverge from your previous understanding? 

 

Resources

 

What's Next?

EASTER!

Contact Grace Church NWA here

youtube thumbnail 041722.png

April 17th, 2022

10:15am I Facebook Live & Zoom

Watch last week's message here

 

Title

Looking for Ressurection

Worship Lyrics

Text

Mark 16 (NET)

Introduction

It’s hard to imagine a time without cell phones, without GPS, without the constant stream of up to the second hand information we have all around us. Back in the “dark ages” i.e. before cell phones. We had to navigate with paper maps - no idea where there would be traffic slow downs or detours, speed traps or accidents. We had to make plans in advance with people and then trust, just trust, they would meet us where and when they said with no up-to-minute texts verifying their progress. I know it’s difficult to imagine how a person could function in such a world, but people did. It took a lot of faith. 

 

I think about this as I read our text for this week. Mark is not a popular Easter passage. Unlike the other accounts, it ends with just the testimony “a young man dressed in a white robe” telling a few of Jesus' followers that Jesus has risen from the dead and to head to Galilee where they will find him. In Mark's version of the story (disregarding verses 9-20 which we’ll deal with Sunday) we don’t know what they find. 

 

Kinda like navigating without a cell phone, we head off, following and trusting Jesus will be where he says he’ll be when he says he’ll be. Let’s see what we find this Easter Sunday.

Grace and peace y’all, 

John Ray and the teaching team
 

The Big Idea: 

The news of the resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate reorienting of the story of our broken world.

Take Away: 

No matter how broken things get, from the personal to the global, all is being healed and restored by the resurrection of Jesus. It changes everything.

How does this fit with "Belong, Become, Believe"? 

At Grace Church, our practice of hospitality springs from the radical welcome offered to each of us by Jesus. Even though our own efforts are halting and imperfect, the practice of them help form us and others more and more into the image of Jesus. This is formed by and informs our beliefs.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  • As you read this week’s passage, why do you think Mark ends with verse 9 (assuming that the other verses were added later)?

  • What do you observe about the reactions of the women who went to the tomb? What do you think your reaction might have been?

  • Putting aside all we know about the resurrection from other places in the Bible, if you only had the account in the book of Mark, do you think that would be enough to trust and follow Jesus? Why or why not?

  • Finally, what does the resurrection say about God?

 

Resources

 

What's Next?

We will be diving back into the earlier verses of Mark 2.

Contact Grace Church NWA here