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JUNE 28

10:15am I Facebook Live

Monuments or Idols?

It’s no fun to have something we thought was true for so long proved false. Years ago, I was told you could tell how a famous person died by looking at a statue of them on a horse. If both legs are in the air, it means they died during a battle. If one leg is in the air, it means they died later of wounds inflicted during a battle. If all four legs are on the ground, then they died some way not connected to any battle. Party trick information, really, something you pull out and use to look smart and impress the kids. But when the truth got in the way and I learned this was just a legend and demonstrably false, I felt genuine loss. Over a piece of trivia. 

 

Now amplify that feeling by about a million when some piece of information or idea that is core to a person’s identity or belief system is challenged, exposed, proven to be false. Often it’s just too much to handle. We become defensive, even hostile. To admit we are wrong would simply cost too much. 

 

In our text this week, Paul is bearing the brunt of just such hostility. And we see it all around us in our society right now. What are we to do? Let’s dig in this week and see what we can find. 

 

Grace and peace, y’all, 

J. Ray and the teaching team

 

Question of the Week

(type your response on the Grace Facebook Live page)

What’s something you really grieved when you found out it wasn’t true?

Teaching: Find the passage Acts 24

 

The Big Idea:

Changing our mind can cost us dearly.

 

Questions for personal or group reflection and study:

It’s such an interesting time we are living in. A friend texted today “...maybe it’s our ‘wheat from the chaff’ moment. Maybe this is what it feels like to be tossed in the air, the end result of seeing the unnecessary, inedible parts of our early faith fall to the threshing floor as trash.” Do you feel anything is being “threshed” from your life or faith? If so, what? What is being revealed as “wheat” and what as “chaff”?

 

Communion/Reflection/Offering 

As you know, we’re in the midst of trying to sell the property at 2828.  We’re doing everything possible to limit costs related to this building as it’s not being used.  Our prayer is that it will sell quickly to someone who sees the opportunity here, and we’ll leave with some assets to use in the ministry to which we feel we’re being called.  Your gifts are a temporary investment in the building, and a future investment in our hope.  Giving is also used to pay our lean, part-time staff of three, and to reach out in compassion to our community through digital messaging, teaching and fellowship as well as in gifts to the poor and marginalized in our area.

Benediction

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

For the Kids and their Families

For the Kids and their Families: In this week’s  Scripture, we see Paul again having to defend himself. This time, he’s defending himself against false accusations, and trying to do a little bit of teaching to the people in power as he speaks with them. Through the Bible, there are stories of people of all ages, shapes, sizes, colors and backgrounds who speak boldly and sincerely about what they believe. How can you prepare your children to do the same, no matter their personality?  

  • Play this game around the dinner table:  I know a lot about … Have each person in your family take a turn, sharing something they know a lot about. (ideas: wildflowers, Arkansas history, trucks, sports, etc.) Have some fun with this, and if Biblical truths haven’t come up yet, jump into those! For example, you might say, “I know that God is _______________.”  “I know that Jesus taught people _______________.”  Especially in these times without children’s classes at church, how are your kids building up their knowledge of truth?  

  • Activities for different interests:  

    • For the artistic: Write one of the truths expressed above in bubble letters on a piece of paper and decorate it patchwork-style with different designs and colors.  

    • For the music lovers: Listen to this song by Rain for Roots about wisdom and grace. Sing your own verse, adding on to “Teach us to number our days ...” How does Jesus teach us to spend our days?  

    • For the outdoorsy types: Go on a scavenger hunt for things that remind you of Biblical truths. Can you find a passion flower?  What do you see that reminds you of the Trinity?

                                What about a crown of thorns?  (John 19:2) 

What can a wild blackberry bush remind you about when you think of Bible stories? (a crown of thorns, good fruit, God promises to take care of even the

Birds (Matt. 6:26) 

Vines and branches?  (John 15) 

Can you find some of your own?

For Further Reflection & Action:

JUNE 21

10:15 am I Facebook Live

Bearing Witness, No Matter What

“The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Have courage, for just as you have testified about in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.’” To which Paul might rightly have replied, “Really? I have to go through that again? Don’t you see how this is all working out?” 

 

And who would blame him? If Paul were to base the effectiveness of his “testimony” in Jerusalem on immediate visible results, then to hell with it. Take all of the places we’ve seen him go during our study this summer, hit or miss at best. If Paul were to justify his ministry based on visible results, then maybe we should find someone other than Paul to be our poster boy for bearing witness. 

 

But what if it’s not about “visible results,” but something else…

 

Let’s dig in this week and see what we can find. 

 

Grace and peace, y’all, 

 

J. Ray and the teaching team

 

Question of the Week

(type your response on the Grace Facebook Live page)

Describe a time when you told the truth and it got you in trouble.

​Teaching: Find the passage Acts 23

 

The Big Idea:

Bearing witness is a call that often costs us.

 

Questions for personal or group reflection and study:

If you are paying any amount of attention to the things going on in the world right now, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed. It’s easy to give up, as well. Consider the places Paul has found comfort and encouragement. Where are you finding comfort and encouragement?

 

Communion/Reflection/Offering 

As you know, we’re in the midst of trying to sell the property at 2828.  We’re doing everything possible to limit costs related to this building as it’s not being used.  Our prayer is that it will sell quickly to someone who sees the opportunity here, and we’ll leave with some assets to use in the ministry to which we feel we’re being called.  Your gifts are a temporary investment in the building, and a future investment in our hope.  Giving is also used to pay our lean, part-time staff of three, and to reach out in compassion to our community through digital messaging, teaching and fellowship as well as in gifts to the poor and marginalized in our area.

Benediction

Grace Church, worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever! Go now and bear witness to this truth. In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

For the Kids and their Families

Here’s some printable info on Acts 23 for your kiddos! 

 

Depending on the size of your family and/or close circle you might be able to meet with during COVID times, try this activity! It’s called Helium Hula Hoop.

 

In the Scripture of the week, there are outbursts and conflicts coming from a fear of loss of power and possibly exclusivity. In this activity, your group must work together, and one person can’t overpower the others!  Talk about how that concept applies to other age-applicable experiences in your family’s life.  

 

What would the world be like if we all sang our songs together?

For Further Reflection & Action:

  • N.T.Wright speaks on “Undermining Racism”

  • Johnny Cash reads the NT 

  • What the Bible has to say 

  • Brian Zahnd’s blog post: There's Always Some Dude on a Horse

JUNE 14

10:15am I Facebook Live

Who Can't You Love?

If you’ve been around me for very long, you’ve heard me tell stories of Uncle Bob. Colonel Robert Spielman, or Uncle Bob, was a WW2 vet, former prisoner of war and guerilla fighter. After his stint in the military he was a schoolteacher and coach and, when he retired, rode along as a chaperon and mentor on the traveling summer camps I went on as a kid and later worked for as a counselor. Uncle Bob was tall, gruff and had endless stories. He’d spent most of his adult life either teaching kids or fighting the Japanese. He loved the one group and thoroughly hated the other. And when I mean hated, I’m not kidding. Uncle Bob would put up with all kinds of shenanigans from adolescent boys and, was endlessly generous with his time, wisdom and attention. He was as insightful and thoughtful as they come. Unless it came to the Japanese. There was simply no room for any mercy or respect or recognition. When I knew him, some 35ish years after the end of the war, there was a cold-blooded spite in his voice whenever they came up. It was so intense that honestly, at times, it scared me. 

 

This week's Scripture takes us into a similar experience of hatred towards a people. And we see Paul’s and God’s responses to it. What will ours be?

 

Grace and peace y’all, 

 

J. Ray and the teaching team

 

Question of the Week

(type your response on the Grace Facebook Live page)

Who’s the most forgiving person you have ever encountered?

​Teaching: Find the passage Acts 22

 

The Big Idea:

God’s grace and salvation force us to overcome any and all hatred, prejudice, or bias we have towards others.

 

Questions for personal or group reflection and study:

The thing about bias and prejudices is we usually don’t even realize we have them, and the thing about hatred is we usually think it’s well-justified. We are in a season, as a Church and as a country, of some deep reflection and repentance. Who is it that you might be biased or prejudiced against, not who you feel you're prejudiced against, but who you might actually be? Who would you have the most difficult time extending grace and hospitality to?

 

Communion/Reflection/Offering 

Take this time to contemplate the blood and the body of Christ as you reflect on the message and what it means in your own life. You can also bring forth your offering by visiting our giving page. 

Benediction

Grace Church, by the power promised during the ascent; (Acts 1: 8-9)  power manifested on the day of Pentecost, which delivered the apostles from the confinement of fear after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ;  (Acts 1: 13-14; 2: 1-12;) power that, simultaneously, gave the apostles and others the confidence to ordain miracles:  (Acts 3: 1-9 '5: 12-16; 20: 7-12;) May this Covid-19 pendulum be eradicated so that we get out of the very restraining confinement from spreading the gospel far and wide, and that we can meet again fraternally in praise of God the Almighty. Amen

For the Kids and their Families 

In this chapter of Acts, Paul is telling the crowd his story. Do you know a lot of your family’s stories? Especially in these times, it’s good to talk about not just the stories of happy times in your family’s past, but also those of difficulty and struggle.  

 

  • For those with older children,

    •  If you’re comfortable visiting Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art at this time, visit the exhibit All Things Being Equal by Hank Willis Thomas. It is open until July 13. In person, or virtually, see the I Am a Man installation. How would you finish the sentence starter, “I am ...”?  If you’re feeling very creative, you could make your own “I Am” wall with white paper and black marker, paint, crayon, or digital design.  

      • When it comes to big decisions—life/death, visible/invisible, important/unimportant—who has value? Is there anything that finishes out the sentence starter, “I am ...” that makes one unimportant or devalued? What do you think about how the artist Thomas ends his display with, “I Am. Amen.”?  

      • What did God and Jesus answer when they were asked, “Who are you?” Look at Exodus 3:15; John 8:25; and Matthew 16:13-20 for a spin on identity questions. 
         

 

  • For those with younger children:  

    • How are you building your family’s story? As Paul tried to build bridges of understanding, he told his story. What ways can you build up each other in your family to consider, “I am _____________?” In some of the smallest ways, each day we can tell each other, “You are messy. You are difficult. You are loud.” Or  “You are loved. Your voice is important. You are needed.” Ask your child to draw themselves on a piece of white paper.  Now, brainstorm together to add words to the page that describe your child. For example, “creative, fast, kind, etc.” You can add those words in colorful crayon or marker, or cut out letters from a magazine and glue them on.  

    • Who is Jesus to you? Toss a ball back and forth between family members, naming attributes of God with each throw. Need ideas to start? Friend, the one who sees us, peace, love, king...

For Further Reflection & Action:

 

 

JUNE 7

9:30am I 2828 Parking Lot & Facebook Live

Lament and Mourning and a Call for Justice

Friends, we are instructed as the people of God, as followers of Jesus, to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. We are instructed by the prophet Micah to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly. Paul tells us to consider the needs of others as more important than our own and Jesus clearly commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. In an era when there is much confusion  and disorientation about what is safe, these words leave no doubt about what is good and right and beautiful. So we now purpose to enter into a season of mourning with our black, native and people of color brothers and sisters. So many in our community are in deep mourning as well as righteously enraged and justifiably exhausted, not at a single or handful of recent injustices, but at centuries of systemic oppression, silencing, and abuse, horrifically exemplified by recent brutality and murder. What is happening now is nothing that has not been happening throughout our entire history.  It is not something that is going to be “solved” without mourning and lament. It won’t be solved by these things alone, but it will not be solved without them. 

 

As the people of Grace Church we humbly enter into this time recognizing that most of us have not experienced the trauma and injustice that our black, native and people of color brothers and sisters have. In fact many of us have benefited from their suffering and propagated, no matter how unknowingly or unwillingly, the systems of their oppression. Recognizing this is part of our own humbling and repentance. It is without excuse or justification we enter this time. 

 

Lament and mourning have not been regular practices at our church, so some instruction is necessary. We need to understand 

  • Lamenting is not an intellectual process.

  • Neither is lamenting just about crying, expressing emotion or feeling guilt or shame.

  • The purpose of lamenting is to expose and name whatever is wrong and that opens us up to grief and healing.

 

We facilitate and practice our lament and mourning by 

  • Asking God the Holy Spirit for what we need to humbly and properly lament and mourn, for a right heart, pure spirit and discerning and humble mind. 

  • Acknowledging and owning the wrong, the hurt, the confusion, the guilt, the shame, the pain, the injustice, the consequences as it pertains to our community and to us individually. 

  • Plead with God for specific intervention, action and presence. 

  • Give thanks for God’s presence and promises among us, for God’s character and longsuffering with us. 

 

In all this we have to remember that it is not by following some formula or making some public spectacle that accomplishes anything. It is only by allowing God’s grace to grant us deeper and deeper repentance and faith. In the end, it is our trust in the mercy and love of God that leads us into this time of lament and mourning.  

 

Grace and peace y’all, 

 

J. Ray and the teaching team

 

Question of the Week

(type your response on the Grace Facebook Live page)

No question this week.

​Teaching: Find the passage Acts 21

 

The Big Idea:

Obedience costs us; emotionally, physically and relationally. But the costs of disobedience is ultimately much higher. 

 

Repent:

Prayer of Confession

You call us to love as you love, care as you care, seek justice, mercy and truth

In a world that has yet to feel the warmth of your embrace.

But we fail to heed your call, draw back from those in need, say nothing when we see injustice.

Forgive us for the things we have done and not done.

Forgive us for the things we have said and not said.

Forgive us for the lives we have lived and not lived.

Forgive us and enable us to reflect the image of the one we profess to follow.

Specifically, we repent of the following: 

  • Spirit of White Exceptionalism/Supremacy/Nationalism/Colonialism in the Church 

    • Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on me

  • Faliure to recognize and repent of Genocide and racism

    • Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Love have mercy on me

  • Our own love of safety and comfort and isolation while others suffer

    • Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Love have mercy on me

  • Those of us with privilege who use it for abuse instead of for the benefit of others. 

    • Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Love have mercy on me

  • Our failure to suffer with those who suffer and to mourn with those who mourn but instead choosing to other them, blame them, shame them, guilt them and demand from them what we refuse to demand from ourselves. 

    • Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Love have mercy on us

 

For these things and so many others God we repent, seek your forgiveness and ask for your mercy and reconciliation that you Kingdom might truly come and your will be fully done here on earth as it is in heaven. 

 

Everyone prays: 

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

 

Communion/Reflection/Offering 

Take this time to contemplate the blood and the body of Christ as you reflect on the message and what it means in your own life. You can also bring forth your offering by visiting our giving page. If you would like to specifically help bolster the fight for equality and an end to racial injustice you can donate to places like the mnfreedomfund.org, and many others listed here.

Benediction

Show us, O Lord, your kindness, and grant us your salvation. Grace Church hear what God proclaims; the Lord—for he proclaims peace. To his people, all his people, to his faithful ones, and to those who put in God their hope. Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him, glory dwelling in our land; But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amen.

For the Kids and their Families 

Many families are asking for recommendations of books, films, experiences, and more for their children to learn more about our history with racial inequality, civil rights, and racial reconciliation.  We have some experiential book baskets we are putting together for check out.  If you would like to borrow one, please email Teresa at thecornetts@gmail.com and we will put your family in the circulation.

For Further Reflection & Action:

  • Thoughts on being an ally

  • Finding our breath to lament

  • A Greater Story Podcast - Sam Collier

  • Melanated Faith Podcast

  • Be the Bridge - (check out the “Get Started” page if you are beginning your journey of understanding and recognizing privilege). Other resources include resource lists for those further along in their anti-racism journey, resources for talking to your kids about faith, resources regarding transracial adoption, FAQ’s, and SO MUCH MORE!

  • If you posted a black square this week on your Instagram, please make sure that you are following black teachers, leaders, pastors, writers, artists, musicians, etc. We recommend:

    • @beabridgebuilder

    • @blackcoffeewithwhitefriends

    • @faitthb

    • @melanatedfaith

    • @latashamorrison

    • @samcollier

    • @tonijcollier

    • @josaxton