re: Beginning Again // Inviting All // Pastor Cedric Lundy

Dear Church,

Ever since you took my hand, I’m on the right way.  (psalm 16:11, the message)

We stand on that glorious promise as we begin a new year together.  We stand with courage and hope–not because we’re confident about what’s going on around us or what’s within us–but because God has taken our hands and is leading us on the right way.  We can joyfully renew our commitment to our mission (inviting all to serve and come alive in Christ) because we’re not on our own.

Jesus is leading us (maybe sometimes dragging us) by the hand.  

This Sunday, we start at the beginning–inviting all.  

One of the most beautiful things about our life together is the love we have for one another.  But we must never forget that all who belong are not here yet.  The family hasn’t fully gathered.  Our mission is to always search the horizon to see how the Lord is leading us–not just to welcome, but to invite into the joy and belonging we find in Jesus.  

I hope you’ll join us as our friend Cedric Lundy preaches from Ephesians 2:11-16, to show why we are called to create a culture of inviting all–and how to do it!  


Pastor Kate

re: Beginning Again // Seek // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture: Matthew 7:7  & Jonah 2:1-3:2

I have no resolutions for this new year. 

What I do have is a tremendous well of gratitude for the gift of being church with you all, a defiant hope in all that God is doing in our midst and a fierce resolve to partner as fully as I can with God and all of you in the days to come.

This Sunday, we begin a new worship series called “re:”. It’s a nod to all of those words we throw around in the month of January–recommit, renew, refresh, reclaim.  As is our tradition, we’ll be walking through the three parts of our unique mission at the Grove (inviting all to serve and come alive in Christ).  But first, this Sunday I’ll be sharing with you a word of the year that I hope will give us common focus and purpose for life together in our next season of being the Grove.


I’ll leave you with some of the beautiful lyrics from the new songs Edmond and the team will be sharing with us–new songs for a new season, eternal truths that will anchor us for whatever lies ahead:

I’ll never be more loved than I am right now
Wasn’t holding you up
so I can never let you down…
Going through a storm but I won’t go down
You’ve never been closer than you are right now…

The song is holy because it’s true. 

Let’s learn to sing it–and live it–together with the Holy Spirit in the year to come!


Pastor Kate

Redemption Songs // Epiphany // Pastor Kate Murphy

Dear Church,

It’s a new year, and something wholly new lies before us.  This is true every day, but most of the time we don’t know it.  We don’t notice.  Because of Jesus, we are always standing on the threshold of a new season, a new revelation, new possibilities with God–but often we are too blinded by fear, stress and familiarity to cross over.

This Sunday, we look at the story of Epiphany--where everyone receives the revelation that the messiah has come.  And most people do… nothing.  They are invested in the life they have.  They aren’t interested in participating in the new thing God is doing in their midst.  Or worse–they actively oppose it with deception and horrific violence.  The story of Epiphany shows us the gamut of human responses to God–we can participate in what God is doing, we can ignore it or we can actively oppose God’s will.

Every day we choose how we respond to the coming of Christ into the world.  Christmas is our celebration of the revelation that God is for us and here with us saving us.  But with revelation comes responsibility.  Now that we know, now that we have rejoiced–will we allow God to lead us to step into the new life Christ brings?  Or will we pack up our decorations and pick up where we left off?


Pastor Kate

Redemption Songs // 2nd Day of Christmas // Pastor Barbara Smith

The marketplace loses interest in Christmas after December 25th–while our sacred tradition sets aside twelve days to celebrate the savior, born to us as a child in the manger.  These days are not after-Christmas, after all.  They are set apart for our collective wonder, designated time to ponder in our hearts what this means for us.  This is when the holidays once again become holy days.

Please join Pastor Barbara Smith for the message this Sunday–on the second day of Christmas.  Too much has happened for us to rush on to what’s next.  The holy celebration isn’t over.  In fact–it’s just begun.

Redemption Songs // Joseph did YOU Know // Pastor Kate Murphy

This time of year, you can’t turn on a radio without hearing someone sincerely sing the question, Mary, did you know?   It’s a beautiful song with a haunting melody, but if you read Luke 1, it’s clear.  She knew.  She was all in from the start.

The real question is…what did Joseph know and when did he know it?

Because Matthew 1:18 says that Mary ‘was found out to be pregnant’ after they were engaged but before they were married.  It goes on to say that because Joseph was ‘faithful to the law’ he made up his mind to divorce her quietly.  And I wonder–how did Joseph learn Mary was pregnant?  Did Mary come and tell him and try to make him understand?  Did someone else find out and tell him, and if so–did he try to talk to her at all?  Did he listen and not believe–or was he so certain he already knew what was going on that he didn’t bother to ask?  When the angel appeared to him in a dream and told him Mary’s pregnancy was from God–was that new news, or confirmation that Mary’s improbable story was true?

My whole life I’ve been taught to celebrate Joseph’s compassionate decision to put her aside quietly–to see it as proof that he was a very, very good man, to see it as the most anyone could expect of a righteous God-fearing man.  But now I wonder if we’ve been reading this part of the story all wrong.  Is Matthew trying to get us to celebrate Joseph’s righteousness–or to warn us, that even our most faithful and righteous choices can be in opposition to what God is trying to do in the world?

Is Joseph a model we try to live up to–or a warning we try to learn from?  It all depends on what he knew and when he knew it. 


Pastor Kate

Redemption Songs // Jesus Genealogy // Pastor Kate Murphy

Saint Matthew begins his gospel with what looks like a long, boring, irrelevant list of names:

Perez begat Herron, Hezron begat Ram, Ram begat Amminadab, Amminadab begat Nahshon

Why in the world are the names of these long dead men included? What could their lost stories possibly have to teach us about the coming of Jesus?

We begin to understand once we remember that this is a redemption story.  Christ comes to redeem all of God’s creation–to reclaim and refashion it for God.  That means no piece of human history is left out–no life is untouched.  Learning these strange names–and about the lives behind them–uncovers the blinding scope and power of God’s redemptive work in Christ.  Uzziah, Shealtiel, Jehoshaphat and Zerrubbabel–all of their stories are part of the story of Jesus.  I hope you’ll join me to learn how. (If nothing else, it’ll be fun to watch my struggle to pronounce their names!)

Pastor Kate

Redemption Songs // New Beginnings // Pastor Kate Murphy

Dear Church,

Ready or not, believe it or not–this Sunday is the first day of the new year.  For generations, Christians have marked time differently.  We mark the days not by the seasons or the calendar, but by the rhythm of telling and re-telling the story of Christ.  This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent–the season where we prepare for the coming of the messiah while remembering why he came and rejoicing in anticipation that he will come again.

So while the whole world will celebrate a new year in January, we keep time differently.  This Sunday, at the very end of the calendar year, we begin again.  For us, the ending is a new beginning–that is our sacred story.

And this year, in this Advent season, we will be learning new spiritual songs–Songs of Redemption.  Because, even though it doesn’t often seem like it, all of scripture is telling one story.  The story of God and creation.  And the essence of that story is one word: Redemption.  God formed all that is out of love–and though creation has been twisted and torn, God will not abandon or destroy–God will redeem God’s own.

It’s a truth so glorious it can only be told as a song.  
Through the prophet Isaiah, God sings to us
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.
Be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating;
for I am about to create a new Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it or the cry of distress.

That’s a song of redemption, Church.  Liars will tell you that what God is doing is only for the beautiful innocent few–that it will happen somewhere else or someone else.  But God says otherwise–the beautiful new heaven and earth will be made from and for the old.  Jerusalem won’t be destroyed and forgotten, but remade and renewed.  Our relationship will be restored, not severed.

In time and truth, what looks like the end is actually the sacred beginning. 

I hope you’ll join me as we open our whole selves up to new life and new beginnings in Christ.


Pastor Kate

Giving Thanks // Remembering the Future // Edmond Johnson

Ezekiel 47:1,8-9  &  Revelation 21:1-5

For years, the prophet Ezekiel warned his people that God’s judgment was falling upon them.  Again and again, he implored them to repent and return to God or catastrophe would overwhelm them.  But everyone ignored his fiery sermons.  They knew there was room for improvement, but no one believed it could be as bad as crazy old Ezekiel made it out to be.   And they were right–until, suddenly, they weren’t.  Disaster was swift and absolute, and nobody could say they hadn’t been warned.  

Vindicated, the prophet opened his mouth to speak–but it wasn’t to say I told you so.  From the ruins Ezekiel began to show them their future–of a new way of life, a new way of knowing God, a new way of worshipping.  He described a new temple, built with a crack in the foundation–designed so that holy water would flow out to redeem the whole earth.  A sanctuary built to leak glory that would swell from a trickle into a river surrounded by trees with unfailing fruit which would nourish and heal the nations.

Sometimes, the only way to go on in the present is to remember the future and give thanks for what has not happened yet.  People of faith have always found courage and strength and hope by trusting that God’s promises are sure.  This week as we gather for worship, we will be giving thanks for the future revealed to us by the promises of God. 

Pastor Kate

Giving Thanks // Practice // Pastor Kate Murphy

Here’s something you probably don’t know about me.  I went to college to be an Opera Singer–on a scholarship, no less.  No, I won’t show you.  Long story short, it wasn’t my calling.  

My Opera career was doomed from the start for two, not entirely unrelated, reasons.  First, I don’t like Opera.  Second, I hated to practice and so I practiced as little as possible.  Having the capacity–the ability and the opportunity–to do something is essential.  But it is not sufficient.  You also have to have the commitment to practice.  This is true for Opera singing–and also for gratitude.

We all have the ability and opportunity to give thanks to God.  Most of us understand that we have an infinite number of reasons to be grateful.  We also understand that the act of giving thanks is generative and life-giving.  And yet–our knowledge and ability and opportunity amount to nothing until we (forgive me) just do it.

As a community, we are giving thanks this month.  I hope you’ll join us in our Thanks Giving Challenge and in worship.  We’ll be reading some of the Apostle Paul’s letters (Philippians 4:4-7, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) aboutthe necessity and power of giving thanks, especially in times of grief and loss.  But we aren’t gathering to learn more or think more.  We are gathering to practice.  Because the only way to become the joyful grateful people we already are in Christ is just to do the thing–to give thanks… so we will be.  I hope you’ll join us.


Pastor Kate

YouTube-Thanks Giving Challenge.

11/13/21 Update

Giving Thanks // Ebenezer Stones // Pastor Kate Murphy

1 Samuel 7:2b-12

Dear Church,

The people were gathered together in Mizpah–called by their prophet Samuel to repent of their faithlessness and return their hearts to God.  And just as they finished their prayers of confession, they looked up and saw their greatest enemy.  The Philistines were marching toward them, ready for battle.  The people were outnumbered, they were unprepared and–most terrifyingly–they were guilty.  They’d just acknowledged how they had sinned, how they’d abandoned the covenant and betrayed God–again. And now they needed help.  They needed God to save them–again.

And God’s response was thunder from Heaven.  Not against them, but for them.  Israel was saved, not by their plans or skill, but by God’s power.

And immediately after the battle-that-wasn’t, Samuel built an altar of stones and named it Ebenezer which means the Lord helped us here.  And every time the people saw that stone they would remember that time that God saved them from danger.  Not because they were good, but because God is good.  The people would see the stone and worship at the altar giving thanks–because the stone made them remember that God helped them.

This November, we are giving thanks in worship.  Because for people of faith, thanksgiving is not a holiday.  It is a spiritual practice.  It is a habit that grounds us in God’s goodness and trustworthiness.  And this month, we are inviting you to practice thanksgiving with us.  Because knowing and understanding is the booby prize of faith–transformation happens when what we know begins to shape how we live.  

So–give thanks with us.  Literally, grab a pen and paper and make a list of how God has helped you in the past.  Will it seem awkward and artificial and fake at first?  Maybe.  But if you struggle to believe that God loves you, if you struggle to trust that God is for you, if you worry that you’ve disappointed God one too many times and you can’t turn to him anymore until you get yourself together–well, giving thanks will pull you out of that shame cycle.  Giving thanks will ground your faith in who God is, not who you are.  Giving thanks will give you peace.

I hope you’ll join me in the practice of giving thanks–not just thinking about it, but actually doing it.  And then I hope you’ll take a picture and send an email to  Because giving thanks together will grow the Grove in beauty and maturity.  And, much less importantly, it will help me not lose a bet.

YouTube-Thanksgiving Challenge.


Pastor Kate