April 16, 2017 – Easter Sunday
“I AM: The Resurrection and the Life”
Luke 24 and John 11
April 9, 2017 – Palm Sunday
“I AM: King”
March 26, 2017
“I AM: The True Vine”
March 19, 2017
Katie Henry Murad
“I AM: The Way, The Truth and the Life”
March 12, 2017
“I AM: The Good Shepherd”
February 26, 2017
“I AM: The Light of the World”
(note: audio clip begins after start of sermon)
February 19, 2017
Clark Rinehart and Katie Henry Murad
“I AM: The Bread of Life”
February 12, 2017
“I AM: Presence”
Pre-Message Notes from the Weekly Gracevine
Gracevine April 13, 2017
[for message on Easter Sunday, April 16]
I absolutely CANNOT WAIT to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus with you this Sunday! We have a huge service planned that you, your friends and your family will really enjoy. More than that, we will get to celebrate and make much of Jesus together. We will spend our time in worship and in the sermon focusing on the victory won on our behalf by the resurrection of Jesus.
If you call Grace home, I would invite you to join me in two things this week:
- PRAY! Pray that Jesus is celebrated and that those who join us would leave Grace on Sunday morning with a renewed sense of gratitude for the victory Jesus has already won for us.
- INVITE. Bring your friends. Bring your family. Bring your neighbors. Invite them to come celebrate Jesus with us and to see what God is doing at Grace.
I’ll see you on Sunday!
Gracevine April 6, 2017
[for message on Palm Sunday, April 9]
We are so thrilled to finally be in Raleigh with our new family at Grace. This Sunday is our FIRST Sunday with you, and Jenn, Lilly and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
More importantly, however, this Sunday is Palm Sunday (what a great Sunday to get to begin preaching to you!) and we will get to discuss the triumphal entry of Jesus as King. As we near the finish of the fantastic “I Am” series that the staff has done a great job on, we will examine Christ’s claim to be King and the people around him who really understood what that meant.
I am so excited to share this message with you! I’ll see you on Sunday!
Gracevine March 30, 2017
[for message on April 2]
Our current preaching series, I Am, has focused on several pivotal statements by Jesus from the Gospel of John. He says: “I AM the bread of life (6:35),” “I AM the light of the world (8:12, 9:5),” “I AM the good shepherd (10:11, 14),” etc. Each of these statements reveals a different part of who Jesus is and gives the groups that are following Him (and the disciples!) some stuff to chew on. Ultimately, these statements ought to form a solid picture of the person who they will come to believe and trust in as Lord and Savior.
In a lot of ways, the sermons that we’ve heard in this series have given us the answer to the question. But they haven’t explicitly spelled out what the question at the heart of the series really is: “But YOU (plural), who do YOU say that I am?” (Mark 8:29).
As we all know, many people over the last two millennia have said things about who Jesus is (He’s a liar…He’s a lunatic…He’s the Lord, etc.). Even still, our community and each of us as individuals must be able to respond to this important question. What do we (again, both collectively and as individuals) have to say about Jesus? Who is He, really? And does the answer to this question have anything to do with how we live our lives?
In my opinion, it should.
Our answer to this question, via our words and actions in the community, will be an integral part of our church’s future ministry in our city, in our region and across the globe.
This is a great weekend to bring a friend because this Sunday’s service will press further into this foundational question and create space for us to think about it as we head toward Holy Week (and the Rector family’s arrival in Raleigh!).
Gracevine March 16, 2017
Katie Henry Murad
[for message on March 19]
Just a little FYI, I went to Appalachian State for my undergrad. I’ve never been a real “outdoorsy” type, but it’s hard to resist when you’re nestled in the mountains. Though I didn’t frequent the parkway as much as some of my classmates, I did make a number of memories climbing trails.
There was the time my friends and I camped on a trail and I slept on a rock. I can’t say it was the best night’s sleep I’ve ever experienced. Then there were the times we hiked to Beacon Heights for the annual worship night with my campus ministry. Also, the numerous times I ventured out of my comfort zone and literally held on for dear life as we made our way to Twisted Falls during the summers.
I never made it past Brownies in Girl Scouts, but I felt like I earned my nature badge along these trails. It wasn’t just arriving to the amazing overlook or breathtakingly beautiful waterfall that made it worth it. It was the journey itself. I was changed because of the path. The steps I took forced me to grow as a person. I became stronger, more self-aware, more enlightened and educated by the encounter with the Creator through the creation.
This Sunday we will be looking at another I AM statement Jesus makes in the gospel of John: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” We are people who belong to the Way (this is what the early Christian movement was called). We are changed by the journey. Along the way there are times we are in step with Christ and others when we’re racing to keep up with him. This is the mysterious miracle of the continued journey with our Redeemer.
Come Sunday as we walk together as a body and with our God. Let us hike, stroll and step with the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life! See you on Sunday morning.
Gracevine March 9, 2017
[for message on March 12]
For the majority of my life I have been known as “one of the twins.” For the first 18 years of my life coaches, teachers, pastors, friends, and even family members always took a guess at my name. Kari?!? Kristi?!? Or my personal favorite where my momma would combine both of our names, “Karisti” or “Krari”! The truth is, there are times when even to this day, I’m still not called by the right name (in fact, one time last week while with family, in a matter of five minutes I was called the wrong name four different times!) I’ve grown used to this over the years, and to this day will answer to any name in the book if I think you are talking to me, but there’s always been this deep desire to be known for who I am and without any hesitation.
On Sunday, we will be looking at another I Am statement Jesus makes and that is “I am the good shepherd.” A part of understanding Jesus as the Good Shepherd is knowing that we are intimately known by Jesus. John 10:14 says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” I strongly believe that we have been created with one of the deepest desires to be intimately known, and all we have to do to find the fulfillment of this desire is to look to Christ. And the greatest part about all of this, is this is only the beginning to this “I am” statement! I look forward to sharing with you further on Sunday all I have been learning about what Jesus’ statement, “I am the good shepherd,” means!
Gracevine – March 2, 2017
[for message on March 5]
There was a strange night at the church recently. There was a leadership meeting on a Tuesday night. There were two agenda items left at about 9:10. The first item I excused myself and the second was an item that I would participate in the discussion. The leader of item one thought it would take 10 minutes. I collected the trash from our meal, left the room and collected the other trash bags in the kitchen. We do not leave food in the building overnight to help keep four legged friends from having a midnight snack.
I left the building out the back door and did my usual routine. I put the large orange cone in the door and went for the dumpster. When I heard the door move, I looked, dropped the bags in the dumpster and sprinted to the door. The door shut just as I grabbed the handle. This happened twice in 10 years and now a third. Both times there was a door still unlocked on the front side of the building. I did not panic. I made my way around the building and casually checked each door. “The front doors would still be unlocked,” I thought. They were not.
“Panic, reach for my keys, scream, or knock on the door” — these were all my thoughts. Then I remember, the first item would only take 10 minutes. At the 30-minute mark of standing in the cold and knocking loudly for 20 minutes, I panicked. “I have to get inside this building. ” Being locked out is actually a common characteristic of mine, so finding other ways to get in without keys is a skill of mine. So, I did. I found an old wire from a 5-gallon bucket, fished it through the center area of the front doors, pushed the handle down just enough, and pulled on the door. In less than 5 minutes after my panic, I ENTERED the building, knocked on the door of 123, got the wave to come in, sat down and rejoined the meeting. Only I knew the series of events that happened over the last 45 minutes.
This week, Jesus declares in John 10 that I AM the Door or The Gate. He makes a profound statement about THE ENTRANCE. John 10:1 says, “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.” I must admit that I did feel like a thief entering the building in the wrong way.
There is only way to know God and that way is through Jesus. “I AM the Door or The Gate.” For anyone who enters into God’s kingdom through Jesus, the ONLY ENTRANCE, that person becomes a child of God.
This Sunday, Jesus wishes to open our eyes a little more, to remove our spiritual darkness, and to provide us with a life abundantly.
Remember to invite someone to join you this Sunday and come with an expectant heart.
Gracevine – February 23, 2017
[for message on February 26]
Over the last two weeks in our series “I Am” we’ve looked at Exodus 3:14, in which God gives God’s personal and sacred name to Moses — “I Am who I Am”– and at Jesus’ proclamation that He is the One who sustains, nourishes, satisfies and saves us when He says, “I Am the bread of life,” in John 6:35.
This Sunday, we’ll unpack another one of Jesus’ “I Am” statements — “I Am the light of the world.” Like the other statements, this one reveals Jesus’ true identity as God’s Son and shows us another piece of God’s character. As God’s ambassadors here on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20), we are charged with embodying who God is to all of those who are around us.
The Gospel of John, in particular, is keenly focused on light and darkness. It’s a major theme that occurs throughout the Gospel. I quickly counted at least 16 times that the author mentions light in John. In fact, we initially saw it come up in John 1:5 when the author tells us that: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
The author of the Gospel continues to describe these two differing qualities (light and darkness) and illuminates (see what I did there!) why Jesus is the true light (John 1:9). He is God…the One who created everything in our midst, even the sun that daily lights our world. And, as we will see on Sunday, Jesus — the true light — forces us to own the darkness that often lurks in the deepest parts of each our lives. Just like Jesus did during His time on earth, God’s Word now exposes the darkness for what it really is — a shadow and a lie.
The darkness distracts each of us and pulls us away from the abundant life (John 10:10) that God has for us through Jesus Christ.
Gracevine – February 16, 2017
[for message on February 19]
As I sit at my computer and type out this little ditty, I am in heaven. Bread heaven, that is.
If you didn’t already know, Laura and I have lived downtown for the last three years. We get the chance to frequent some pretty cool spots that have popped up around town — some of you kind souls even give us lots of grief about our coffee shop/restaurant/dessert bar habits. But, I digress.
If you haven’t been downtown in awhile, you should get down here. Right now, I’m obnoxiously salivating in public because my nose is experiencing the overwhelmingly wonderful wafting smells of rye and wheat at a little bread shop called Boulted Bread. There’s actually a “morning bun” that is calling my name and I just might give into the temptation…Lord, help me! 😉
Bread is a staple (in its various forms) for most cultures. Revolutions have even sparked because of a shortage of this common and simple food. Bread is so ordinary, in fact, that we often take it for granted. And yet Jesus chooses to liken Himself to this very simple food, saying, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).
This Sunday, Katie and I will tag team a sermon that is rooted in this powerful passage from John 6, which I hope will surprise you, even if you’re familiar with it. As Christians, we believe that Jesus, who is God, is the one who provides for, sustains and nourishes us each and every day of our lives.
Gracevine – February 9, 2017
[for message on February 12]
I grew up in Springdale Estates off Leesville Road. There were three houses in 1968. By 1973, there were probably close to 100, two beautiful lakes, and lots of fun families, but it was far far away from the center of the town of Raleigh.
1973 was an important year in our neighborhood. A few young elementary boys decided to feel the “presence” of a nice warm fire out by their “fort” in the woods where the small creek ran into the smaller of the two lakes and the one closes to my home.
There was a firepit of sorts since they were cub scouts. There was water at the little stream near the fort. The boys rummaged around their homes to get all the supplies. One boy was responsible for “the flame” or to get the matches or lighter. The boy selected knew where “fire” was because both parents smoked Camel cigarettes.
What a nice early evening it was!! The fire started reasonably small and the boys sat by the fire enjoying the blaze, eating s’mores, and a “few other things.” They enjoyed every moment until the wind began to blow. Before anyone could even move, the woods were on fire, the fort was on fire, and the boys were sprinting to hide.
After the fire trucks controlled the fire and saved those 100 homes, the boys ended up in downtown Raleigh at the sheriff’s detention area in a holding cell for minors. After some “education” about fire safety and pyrotechnics, the boys went home near midnight. You can never know when a random blaze might change your life.
This weekend, we move from our “Beginnings” series on John 1:1-18 and launch a series called “I AM.” We’ll look at eight statements made by Jesus in the book of John. We will stay in John through Easter.
This Sunday [February 12], we will look at Exodus 3:1-6, in which a random blaze changed the life of one man and the story of God’s relationship with His people:
Moses and the Burning Bush
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight –why the bush does not burn up.” When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
If you have time, read Exodus 3 and notice this amazing encounter between God and Moses and the characteristics of being in God’s presence. Over the first five weeks in our new location, more than five new couples and four individuals have attended our church for the first time. Please invite family or friends! Let’s “love our neighbors” especially those who are new to Grace on Sunday mornings. Thanks for being such friendly people!