Mind of Christ-Week 5 // The Repentant Sinner // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture: Luke 18:9-14 (NIV) – The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

What if a lot of what you’ve learned about God isn’t right?
What if the gap between what scripture says and what we’ve been told it means is bigger than we imagined?
What if what Jesus said doesn’t mean what we tell ourselves it means?

That’s why we are spending August considering the mind of Christ and opening our spirits up to the terrifying liberating truth of Jesus.  Because (spoiler alert) Jesus thinks differently than we do.  That’s why he taught in parables–to expose the gulf between our expectations and God’s truth.  This Sunday we are considering the church through the lens of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, where the one who was confident in himself remained far from God and the one who despaired was saved by grace.  Like the Pharisee, too many of us Christ followers come to worship full of ourselves.  We seek out the faith communities that will justify us.  We want churches to exalt our righteousness and condemn the sins of our neighbors.

But salvation comes not to the (self) righteous, but the repentant sinner.   Our church shouldn’t confirm our suspicion that we are righteous, it should lead us to repentance.  

Mind of Christ – Week 4 // Prayer, Persistence, Justice // Pastor Cedric Lundy

This Sunday we are excited to welcome our friend Pastor Cedric Lundy into the pulpit to share the next installment of our worship series on the ‘Mind of Christ.’  Cedric is a native of Ann Arbor, MI, who moved to Charlotte, NC, after completing his ministry degree to begin a career in pastoral ministry. He has served as a youth pastor, a pastor of justice, and he owns a coffee roasting business. He currently serves as a Street Leader Director for Urban Promise. He is also the co-host of the podcast, Token Confessions where he and Sanchez Fair share stories of life as men of color living in predominantly white spaces.  You can read more about Cedric’s story and passion for Jesus in this recent feature from ‘The Faces of Charlotte.’  Cedric’s sermon on the parable of the persistent widow will explore the intersection of prayer and persistence and justice.


Pastor Kate

Mind of Christ-Week 3 // The Vine & The Branches // Shardae Henry

This Sunday is a big deal in the life of our congregation.  Our friend and sister Shardae Henry will be preaching her first sermon from our pulpit.  During her time at the Grove, the Lord has called Shardae to ordained ministry and she begins her formal seminary studies this fall at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte.  And like I said–this is a big deal for ALL of us.

Because one sign of a vital life-giving church is people ‘coming alive’ and discovering previously unimaginable callings to serve Jesus in extraordinary ways.  ‘Behold–I do a new thing in your midst!’ God declares through the prophet Isaiah.  That is true for us as a community–and it is also true for us individually.  God’s call to ministry was a surprise to Shardae–but those of us who have grown to know and love her over the years saw it coming and celebrated its arrival. 

So this is a big beautiful moment.  Shardae will share how Jesus’ words ‘I am the vine and you are the branches’ in John 15 reveals the mind of Christ for ministry.  And the act of stepping into the pulpit will itself be a revelation for those of us with eyes to see.  Because we think we know ourselves, our limits, and our capabilities well.  But Jesus knows us better–and Jesus calls us into life beyond our wildest imagination (and equips those he calls).

So I hope you will join us this week.  I am coming ready to be filled–because I know that Jesus will use our Shardae to challenge, inspire and stretch us in the same way he has filled, challenged, inspired, and stretched her.  May we respond as faithfully!


Pastor Kate

Scripture Reading: John 15:1-8 (NIV)

Mind of Christ – Week 2 // Lost, Hidden & Small // Pastor Kate Murphy

I visited my family in Kentucky last week and took long walks every morning.  Since I grew up here, they’ve laid a sidewalk that runs parallel to the main road.  The project was funded by selling bronze plaques now inlaid with the concrete.  It’s beautiful.  As you walk along you see messages of what neighbors hold most dear.  The names of family members long departed.  Scripture citations.  Blessings and wishes for days full of health, gratitude, joy and love.  And one brass plaque that simply reads:  Our Confederate Dead, 1863-1983

It stopped me in my tracks, and I’ve been wondering about it ever since.  The ones who paid dearly to lay that marker, what were they trying to say to us? Those who fought in the Civil War on behalf of the Confederacy–that choice isn’t the only true thing about them.  They were also sons and fathers and brothers and neighbors, perhaps wonderful ones.  But their legacy is aligning with an evil cause.

My point isn’t that the people memorialized on that plaque are monolithically evil.  It’s much more disturbing than that.  I believe they are just like us.  Those men and women were the same mixture of goodness and fear and shallowness and glory as the rest of us.  They were the beloved for whom Christ died, just like us.  Except they probably read their Bibles and worshipped more frequently than we do.

And yet, when it was time to pick a side–they choose the wrong one.

Which is why we need the mind of Christ as it is revealed to us through scripture and by the Holy Spirit–because there are moments when living by Kingdom values will be seen as a betrayal of all those we love hold most dear.  And we must be salt and light anyway.

These parables we are studying are lifelines, tethering us to the way of the Lord when the whole world pulls us elsewhere.  As scripture commands us, we must work out our faith with fear and trembling and renew our minds in Christ.  Saved by grace, we can’t be confident in our own wisdom or righteousness.  Because much as I’d love to confidently declare otherwise, who can say what choice I’d have made if I’d grown up in my home town 150 years ago?

Scripture Readings: Luke 15:18-10 – Matthew 13:44-46 – Matthew 13:31-32

Mind of Christ – Week 1 // Parables & Stories // Pastor Kate Murphy

When he walked this earth, there was one group of people who failed to see the goodness of God in Jesus.  One group of people who not only didn’t recognize Jesus as God’s son–but believed they were honoring God when they persecuted him.

It wasn’t the sinners or the sick or the poor or the gentiles or the foreigners.

It was the people like us–people of faith.  The people who prayed for the Messiah were exactly the ones who didn’t recognize Jesus when God sent him in answer to their prayers.

That should unsettle us.  Why did they miss him?  Why did the very ones who longed for the Kingdom miss its coming?

Because he wasn’t who they expected him to be.  They thought they knew God, they thought they knew salvation, they thought they knew scripture and understood the prophecies.  What they thought they knew blinded them spiritually.  Jesus had no trouble healing the blind–it was those who didn’t know they were blind who remained unchanged–because they rejected the light that pierced their darkness.

This Sunday we start a new worship series called ‘Mind of Christ.’  We’ll be looking at the parables–because these holy little stories show us the gap between our comfortable religious expectations and holy reality.  Parables are a peek into the mind of Jesus.  They disturb and unsettle us–and that’s the point.  They help us get used to being surprised by God.