January 29, 2017
Clark Rinehart
“Setting Up the Tent” 
John 1:14-18


January 22, 2017
Brian Worley
Genesis 3:1-24

Pre-Message Notes from the Weekly Gracevine

Gracevine  January 26, 2017
Clark Rinehart
[for message January 29]

Over the last few weeks in our preaching series called Beginnings, we’ve seen how important John 1:1-18 is for understanding who God is and how tough it is to plumb the full depth of the passage. Each time I read it, I see something new that often stretches me in my journey of faith. There are treasures in the passage that capture our imagination, that challenge us to think differently about our relationship with God and that charge us to respond positively to the beautiful words that we hear/read. We cannot just hear/read these words and put our feet up or get comfortable as individuals or as a community. In my opinion, they demand a respond from us.

This Sunday we’ll finish up the series and our first month in the new building (!!!) by bringing the different pieces that we’ve unpacked together with John 1:14-18. This part of the passage reminds us that God chose to be close to us through Jesus, even though we (humanity) often choose to run from God. It also shows us two very significant things that should shape how we live our daily lives.

In it John tells us that God set up shop or literally, pitched a tent right in our midst.  In other words, in the midst of our hurting and broken world, God loves dearly (see John 3:16-17). And that Jesus came to the world full of grace and truth. These two things, grace and truth, have to be held together in tension, even as we probably default to one or the other.

Both of these realities are central to our everyday lives as Christians. When we are “in Christ” (to use the language of the Bible), we are charged with imitating God (see Philippians 2) in whatever circumstance or situation in which we find ourselves. I know that is terribly hard to do at times! Nevertheless, as we journey together, God invites each of us to participate in this good news lifestyle.

We do this, in part, by setting up our own lives (our tent!) in the midst of our community and also by offering the grace and truth that we have received to everyone we come in contact with — whether at school, at work or, perhaps most challenging, at home.

Hope to see you on Sunday!

Gracevine  January 19, 2017
Brian Worley
[for message January 22] 

A man walks on a small stage with three white tweed ropes. His face is tan. He is about 6′ 2″ tall and looks like an athletic football player. He moves to the center of the stage and begins to talk. While he talks, he begins to make the ropes do different “tricks.” For the next 10 or so minutes, he moves very little from the spot in the center of the stage. He does not inflict his voice much, yet is very engaging in his presentation. The whole time the ropes go from 3 to 1, from noted back to three ropes, and from the same length to 3 different lengths. The audience is totally captivated. At the end of 10 minutes the room is full of applause. This middle-aged man turns and walks off the stage.
There are all levels of illusionist or magicians. Each have their own method of doing “slight of hand” tricks. Each has their own way of getting the eyes of the audience away from the actual “change” or “trick”. You can watch an audience of one or TV audience of millions all try to keep their eyes on the performer. They are and I am amazed and laugh at both performances, the performer and the audience. I am amazed by my friend on the stage who works hundreds of hours to perfect this 10-minute routine.
There are also rules to a performance or for a performer like my friend.
  1. Always keep the audience in front of you.
  2. Be careful with those on the sides or only do certain “tricks” if people are 360 degrees around you.
  3. Make sure the lighting is bright on you and especially your hands.
  4. Make sure the audience can see your hands and hear your words well.
  5. Never give the “trick” away.
  6. Always leave people wondering and wanting more.
“Deception” is a trick or scheme used to get what you want, like the deception you used to get your sister to agree to do all your chores for a month. Deception occurs when you deceive. It is a word that comes from the Latin “de” meaning “from” and “capere” meaning “to take.” When we experience “deception” in the form of illusions or magic tricks, we receive it as entertainment or fun. We laugh and enjoy the “trick” that we would like to figure out how the performer kept us from really understanding how it happened.
This Sunday, we will encounter what might be the original deception and is the original deception in scripture from Genesis 3:1-24:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”
In our series, Beginnings, we are looking at John’s prologue, John 1:1-18, and Genesis chapters 1 through 3. Both are creation passages and both have the beginnings of life and issues that matter to our everyday lives.
This Sunday, Genesis 3 has more beginnings or firsts than we can cover, so we will narrow them down to the Original Deception, Original Disobedience and Original Separation. If you have a few minutes by Sunday morning, read these Genesis 3:1-24 and see how many “beginnings” you can list. I found 12 as a minimum.
Let’s come expecting to hear God and to love our neighbor or the person who is near on this Sunday morning.
Gracevine  January 12, 2017
Clark Rinehart 
[for message January 15]

I hope that all of you were able to enjoy a few moments of forced snow day rest or, at least, more rest than normal. If not, you probably have young(er) children who were out of school…maybe even ice skating or sledding on the roads through the neighborhood. Thank you, WCPSS! 😉

Last Sunday, Katie Henry Murad was looking forward to preaching on Genesis 1, which would’ve been the second sermon in our New Year’s series called “Beginnings.” But the wintry weather made her deliver the sermon to her two dogs, Gus and Sookie, instead.

This Sunday morning I’ll pick up where Brian Worley left off in the Gospel of John and we’ll look at John 1:6-13. The passage starts out by describing who John the Baptizer (Baptist) was — a human witness to Jesus, the true light in the world! John prepared the way for Jesus’ life and ministry (Mark 1:2-3) and was someone who charted a course for Jesus in the hearts and minds of people as He came on the scene. This passage is about John, but it’s not really — it’s really about Jesus. He is the one who the spotlight is always on. And yet God chooses to use John, a mere human, to pioneer a path for the Son of God to work in the world and bring about the reconciliation of all things unto Himself. We find out as we read the passage that John pointed to Jesus centuries ago and so should we in our own lives today. In fact, our day-to-day lives are testimonies to who God is and how God is active in the world today.

In the same way that John pioneered a way for Jesus to work in and minister to the hearts and minds of people in the first century, God has charged us with this same type of responsibility as disciples/followers of Jesus! But we will also find out that when we are pioneers for Jesus in this world who invite people to participate in the goodness and fullness of life that we have found in Christ, there will be resistance.

So bring a friend or a family with you this Sunday morning. We’ll worship together, unpack some more of the passage and listen for how God wants to use it to transform us — as individuals and as a group — in this next season of our community’s ministry to our city.

Gracevine – January 5, 2017
Katie Henry Murad
[for message January 8]

We’re going to be singing one of my new favorite songs this Sunday. The lyrics say:

When You speak, darkness has to bow
Confusion has its final hour
When You speak, mountains rise and fall
It tears down ev’ry wall around me

When You speak, breathe upon the dust
You come alive in us
When You speak, You silence ev’ry fear
We feel Your Spirit here around us

Let there be light, let there be light
Until it fills up ev’ry space
Come and have Your way
Let there be light, let there be light
Just one word and I am changed
Come and have Your way

Now You’re ev’rything we seek
As deep cries out to deep
We will see God
Here Your glory on display
Jesus take Your place
We will see God.

Brian took us into the beginning of the gospel of John and started a conversation of what it’s like to start something. There is often hope, excitement, joy … but it frequently is coupled with questions, unpredictability or fear.

Confession over here. I tend to really enjoy new beginnings. Whether it’s just my nature to be positive or a desire to take part in the forward direction of something, I really like beginnings.

We’re going to be spending time in Genesis 1 this Sunday — the beginning of it all, when God made us. Scripture tells us everything with dark and void, but then God spoke and said, “Let there be light.” And just like that, darkness was eliminated and light burst forth from the mouth of God. How breathtaking!

In the song we’re singing Sunday, it says when God speaks and breathes upon the dust, we are made alive. What a great mystery for God to take something as simple as dust and give it life. What an exciting beginning. God took what seemed hopeless or bleak and breathed upon it. God made humankind and filled our lungs with the breath of God.

But we weren’t created just to exist. We were created to live. To live out the good news of the gospel of Christ. The story that God can take something which is formless and animate it. God can animate us through the Son of God who is the Light of the World. We were given breath in our lungs to share that light and to let it shine. This beginning is steeped in potential and hope.

Let us gather Sunday morning (weather permitting!) to share in the wonder and excitement of this beginning. The beginning of humanity as God breathed upon Adam and Eve in Genesis 1. The beginning of it all. The start of our story to by animated by God and share the light of the world.

See you on Sunday!

Gracevine  December 29, 2016
Brian Worley
[for message January 1, 2017]

Happy New Year and a year to begin anew. We, as a church, are in a new location, a time for new relationships, and building on our mission to “Love Jesus, Love our neighbor, and Live faithfully.”   Beginnings are filled with emotions of every type. This year will be no different. One fact that I learned in 2016 is my need to “know and keep a solid foundation,” especially when beginning new directions or charting new course.

There is a wonderful picture on my phone of Susan’s family and me in a pyramid on a North Carolina beach. Our knees enjoyed the soft sand helping our pyramid to last longer, but the more the four men on the bottom stayed still the more we sank. The enjoyable family picture was snapped then the bottom fell out as the outside two men fell and the foundation crumbled. We laughed and laughed with nieces, nephews and Nana (Susan’s mom).

A solid foundation helps us through change, temptations and fears. For each of us who know Jesus and enjoy the scriptures, we find our foundation built on the beginning of all of creation, Genesis 1:1-2:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness
was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

This weekend we will look at a second foundational passage that some authors consider to be “a second creation” passage. We will look at the solid foundation of our faith both as a church and as an individual from John 1:1-5:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was
the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

We hope to fill our new building on Sunday at 10am and to see you there.