As Above-So Below // Pentecost // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  Acts 2:1-21

When Jesus gathered his disciples together after his resurrection, before he returned to the Father, he gave specific instructions. ‘Stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’

So they stayed together in Jerusalem. They gathered in an upper room, they did a little administrative work, they prayed, and they waited.  They did not get what they were waiting for.  They did not get the kind of power they expected or desired. Because who in the world could have anticipated this?

Instead, they got the power Jesus asked the Father to give them.  They got Jesus’ own Holy Spirit. And in the moment they received the Spirit, they became the answer to Jesus’ prayer.

This Sunday is Pentecost.  We will remember the story of that day and the wisest and most mature among us will celebrate it.  Because the story of that day is still the story of our life together.  Those first disciples didn’t get what they prayed for, they became what Jesus prayed for–they were filled with the Holy Spirit, what was in them was not of them, and they became the church.  May it be so with us.

The church without the Spirit of God is just a religious institution, a collective, interactive man-made idol. Such a church might do things for God, but it cannot do things with God.  It is limited by its own wisdom, its own desires, its own culture, its conflict and its limited vision and resources. It can easily be seduced by the enemy.  It has and does tremendous damage.

But a community of believers who wait, pray and surrender to the Holy Spirit, they are empowered by God through the Holy Spirit and become the living body of Christ. They are limited only by the will of God. Such a church has everything it needs to flourish in faithfulness to God in all seasons.

I hope you will join me for worship on Sunday at 10am, in the sanctuary or on the livestream.  Like our ancestors, we will surrender our agenda and wait and pray for the power of God which is the Holy Spirit.  Apart from the Spirit we can do nothing.  With the Spirit, we have everything we need to become the answer to the prayers Jesus is still praying for the world.

Come and see!


Pastor Kate

Want to chat about what you have heard? Click here:

Life After Grace-Week 6 // Reconciliation // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  Colossians 1:9-22

Dear Church,

As is our custom here at the Grove, in January I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit for wisdom to discern a word to guide us in faith and focus this year. For 2024, that word is reconciliation.

And so, on the last Sunday of our worship series ‘Life After Grace,’ we turn again to that word–reconciliation. Most of us know little more than the definition.  We know what the word means, but very few of us have any lived experience of deep, transformative relational repair.  Even worse, we don’t want it.

Our culture, secular and sacred, celebrates enmity and judgment. Perhaps especially in the church, our deepest animating passions surround what we’re against and who we reject. Our moral vision rarely exceeds the righteousness of exclusion. We believe that our enemies are no more than the worst things they’ve ever done.  We seek God’s grace to protect us, not reconcile us.  Which means, at our deepest level, we believe the power of sin supersedes the power of grace.

But reconciliation is the core of the revelation of Jesus. It is the ultimate and inevitable expression of grace.  Anything less than reconciliation isn’t grace at all.  When the thought of reconciliation fills our own hearts with resentment and suspicion, it is not our enemies that we are rejecting, but the way of Jesus and our own salvation.  If grace doesn’t heal and save our enemies, it doesn’t save us either.

I hope you’ll join me as we let the Spirit and the scriptures shape our vision and increase our desire for reconciliation.  We cannot believe what we cannot imagine. So first we’ll let scripture and Spirit help us imagine a life after grace where we, along with all the rest of creation, are healed and reconciled back to Christ.

Once our hardened hearts are softened and filled with the beauty of the goodness of reconciliation, then we’ll believe it and begin to long for and seek the power of grace to be part of it.


Pastor Kate

Want to chat about what you have heard? Click here:

Life After Grace-Week 5 // God Is Good // Nicole Thompson

Scripture:  Psalm 139:1-12

Grove Family,

I know we talk about God a lot.

About how we are loved and cared for. We share stories with one another about how God keeps us or shows us the path we should follow. Surrounding ourselves with these stories is encouraging and of course it builds and strengthens our faith.

This Sunday we will examine how we can stay the course when we find ourselves in those moments when we aren’t strong, when doubt creeps in and questions abound.

We will walk with our brother David and reflect on moments of his life when he walked with God but he also wondered and questioned. We will explore how God knows us and is not surprised by our feelings as we walk this journey called life.

As we journey through the various seasons we find ourselves in, what is most valuable for us to remember is that God is with us.

😘 Smooches!

Elder, Pastor, Seminarian Nicole Thompson

Want to chat about what you have heard? Click here:

Life After Grace-Week 4 // Grace Is Power // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  2 Corinthians 12:1-10

If grace were only the assurance that we will find eternal life with God after we die, it would be more than enough reason to praise God forever.  If grace were only the character of God’s heart that chooses to pour out merciful forgiveness on sinners, it would be enough reason to give thanks for all of eternity.

Most of us think that’s what grace is–eternal life and an assurance of God’s mercy.  And it is more than enough for us.  Who could want or need anything more?

We do.

People who want to pick up their crosses and follow Jesus, we need more.

And the incredible good news is that there IS more.  Grace is even more than mercy and salvation.

Grace is power.

Grace is the force that resurrected Jesus from the grave.

Grace is the power inherent in the new life we receive from God.

Grace is the ability that is in us, but not of us, to be faith-filled followers of Jesus.

But most of us, as familiar and dependent on grace as we understand ourselves to be, don’t feel very powerful.  In our suffering and struggles, we are weak and despairing.  Or worse, in denial.  Many of us have been taught to completely deny our suffering and struggles.

If power is part of grace, then why are we so powerless?

Because, friends, the power of grace can only be found in one place.  It’s the place Jesus walked toward unflinchingly his whole life. And it’s the place most of us run as fast and far from as we possibly can.

I hope you will join me as we discover the exact place we can find the power of grace in our lives, should we choose to seek it.


Pastor Kate

Want to chat about what you have heard? Click here:

Life After Grace-Week 3 // Manna & Quail // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  Exodus 16:1-16

Dear Church,

The Hebrew people were liberated by the power of God’s love for them. They no longer had to fear Pharaoh’s wrath or the brutality of slavery or the infanticide of their children.  They were rescued out of oppression and set on a journey towards the promised land and their common destiny–to dwell in a land flowing with milk and honey and become a source of blessing for every nation on earth.  It was happy-ever-after on all fronts.

Except that it wasn’t.

Because they didn’t know how to live blessed and free.  They didn’t know how to survive, how to care for themselves and, most basically, how to feed themselves in this new life. So this glorious freedom began to feel like doom and they cried out to God (read complained) and demanded to go back to their familiar life of slavery. At least we had good food back then, we’d rather die there than die out here in the desert.

Sometimes, freedom from your fears feels like a different kind of death. What is unknown can feel like threat, even when it’s actually a blessing.

As Christians, we have life after grace. We have been freed from the powers of sin and death and evil.  We are redeemed people and on our way to the promised land, and even on the way, we have abundant life.

And all this blessing is strange and unfamiliar.  Sometimes, wild new life can feel like death.  Sometimes, the urge to return to what we know is all-consuming. We too cry out to God. Sometimes we unconsciously choose to return to our old pre-grace–and don’t even notice.

The good news is, our God is a determined liberator. God meets our needs with extraordinary generosity and gentleness. God knows we need space and grace to grow into our new life in Christ and gives us both, abundantly.

I hope you’ll join me, as we look back at the story of the chosen people in the wilderness learning how to live in the freedom of God’s love and celebrate the way Christ, which ushers us into our own new life after grace.


Pastor Kate

Want to chat about what you have heard? Click here:

Life After Grace-Week 2 // Destruction // Cedric Lundy

Scripture:  Ephesians 2:11-16,  1:9-10,  3:6,  3:14-17

Dear Church,

When Jesus said ‘it is finished’ on the cross, he was announcing his eternal victory over the powers and principalities of sin and death.  That’s not what it looked like, but that’s what it was. The resurrection was God’s vindication and validation of Jesus’ triumph over the forces of evil. Ever since that first Easter, we have been living in grace.

Now that grace has come and the Kingdom of God is in our midst, the Holy Spirit has been unleashed to work in the world making all things new. And it may surprise you, but here’s the first item of business:


The Risen Christ has some demolition work to do. 

Specifically, he’s tearing down the wall of hostility that divides enemies and strangers from one another.

Perhaps your first response is incredulity.  You might look around and point out all the places that division and hostility still rule the day. But before we question the efficacy of grace in geopolitics and national culture, I wonder if we could pause and look inward. Are you willing to surrender to grace and allow the Lord to tear down the walls of fear and hostility you’ve erected in your own heart as a barricade against enemy love and redemption.

Our job is not to critique how well or poorly God is overcoming sin in other people’s hearts, but to soberly wonder if we are allowing the Lord to conquer and reclaim our own hearts that have been twisted by sin and fear. Life after grace includes rejoicing in the salvation God gives to our sworn enemies.

Do you long for reconciliation with your enemies, or are you still building a wall to stop the flow of unmerited grace?

I hope you’ll join us as our friend Cedric Lundy preaches the good news of God’s astonishing grace-fueled demolition!


Pastor Kate

Want to chat about what you have heard? Click here:

Life After Grace-Week 1 // Nothing To Fear // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  Matthew 8:23-27

Dear Church,

It has not been quiet at the Grove this week and we are so grateful!  We’ve gathered with more than 50 children and youth for our Treasure Hunters Spring Break Vacation Bible school and the mornings have been full of the sounds of young voices singing, playing, making art and seeking treasure.

All week we’ve soaked in joy of learning that Jesus is alive and making all things new–to heal, to reconcile, to provide abundantly and to bring peace to us even when we are in the midst of a storm. 

On Easter morning we discovered the resurrection of Jesus–and with it the glorious news that the last word in life isn’t sin or death or suffering.  Because of Jesus, the last and final word in life is grace.  And we who follow the risen Lord are entering into life after grace.  Together with the Spirit we are learning how to live now that we know grace, now that we see that in Christ there is always enough and nothing to fear.


Pastor Kate

Want to chat about what you have heard? Click here:

Easter Sunday // Christ Is Risen // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  Matthew 28:1-10

Dear Church,

These holy days are not for pretending.  We watch and pray as those who know the incredible end of the story.  On the cross we are seeing the triumph of the goodness of God.  We are seeing the Prince of Peace overthrow the powers of violence, sin and death.

The most radical thing that Christians believe is not the virgin birth or resurrection.  It’s not that one time the sun stood still or that Jesus walked on water.  It isn’t the liberating ten plagues or the manna in the wilderness.  We believe a lot of incredible things; but the most astonishing faith claim we make is this:

Goodness has already won.

Grace has already won.

Mercy has already won.

Love has already won.

Christ is risen.

Believing this, and seeking the grace of God that makes it true, is how we have the courage and power to welcome the stranger, embrace the prisoner, forgive our enemies and live each day in hope washing one another’s feet.

I hope you will also join me as we delight in the goodness of God that rose Jesus from the grave. Together we will seek God for the grace to live by the goodness of God, and by the power of the Holy Spirit–we will find it!


Pastor Kate

Want to chat about what you have heard? Click here:

Good Friday // The Hardest Day // The Seven Words

It is Good Friday.  This is the holiest day. This is the hardest day. We cannot look away.  I hope you will join us as we worship and pray and keep watch together. Jesus tells us this is the hour for which he came.  He promises that if we will allow the Spirit to open our eyes, we will see the glory of God. Then we will understand how it is possible that this day can be good.

The First Word “Father Forgive Them”
   Luke 23:33-34 – Pastor Barbara Smith

The Second Word – “Today, With Me, Paradise”
   Luke 23:39-43 – Rev. James Thomas

The Third Word – “Woman, Behold Your Son”
   John 19:25-27– Josue Figueroa

The Fourth Word – “My God, My God, Why”
   Matthew 27:39-46 – Nicole Thompson

The Fifth Word – “I Thirst”
   John 19:28-29 – Pastor Kate Murphy

The Sixth Word – “It Is Finished”
   John 19:30 – Ciara Osbey

The Seventh Word – “Into Your Hands”
   Luke 23:43-49 – Dr. Wes Vander Lugt

Want to chat about what you have heard? Click here:

Decision-Week 6 // Two Parades // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  Matthew 21:1-11 & Matthew 27:27-32

Dear Church,

We are standing together on the cusp of Holy Week.

Throughout this sacred season of Lent, we’ve been walking towards the glorious revelation of the cross and empty tomb which forms the heart of our faith and hope in Jesus.  Now we are only a few steps away.

But first, two parades. One is strange, but joyous. The other horrifying and brutal. One embodies the way of Christ.  The other exposes the true nature of all that stands opposed to God’s love–stripping away the facade of righteousness and respectability that so often deceives us.

We need to see both and seek God for wisdom, healing and growth in them.

I hope you will worship with me throughout this holiest of weeks.  There is much the Spirit wants to show us in the final triumphant moments of the life of Jesus.  Some of what we will see is astonishingly beautiful.  And much of what we will behold is almost unbearable horror.

All of it is true. The beauty and the horror.  And in Christ, God provides beautiful transcendent life for us in all of it.

Sooner or later, we will all experience the reality of these days in our own lives.  We need to see how Jesus is with us in it all, is faithful to us in it all.


Pastor Kate

Want to chat about what you have heard? Click here: