Smashing Idols (a Lenten series) // Greed // Kate Murphy

Greed is probably our favorite idol to redefine. We agree that greed for other people is a problem. But for us? Well, we just put another label on it and re-frame the situation as if it is good for us to have the blessings we do, regardless of how it impacts someone else. But greed is more than consuming or saving . Greed is the assumption that everything — including every blessing — is for our own personal benefit and advantage.

That’s what makes greed an idol: the fact that we find security in it. And if there’s anything we’ve learned over the last week of crisis dealing with COVID-19, it’s that our storehouses of anything material are not truly secure.

So what do we do in response? We invite the Holy Spirit to smash an idol we have been grasping on to so that God can replace it with something better. Listen in to learn how.

Smashing Idols (a Lenten Series) // Lust // Kate Murphy

“Love people and use things,” the old saying goes, “because the opposite never works.” Still, we constantly find ourselves doing the opposite—loving things and using people. Anytime we treat a person like an object, even if only in our thoughts, we destroy a little piece of our own humanity. We hide it, we rationalize it, we normalize it—but Jesus isn’t having it.

So, listen in as we talk about the way Jesus defines lust, as opposed to what The Church or culture says it is.

Smashing Idols (a Lenten Series) // Pride // Kate Murphy

This Sunday, the first in the holy season of Lent, we begin a new worship series called “Smashing Idols.” You may be thinking—when is the last time anybody saw an idol? I promise you, they’re hidden in plain sight.

An idol is anything we put our trust in other than God—and, these days—our idols aren’t statues that we bow down before. Honestly, they are the sins we’ve normalized and enshrined in our personalities. This Sunday, we’re starting with the biggest idol of all—pride.

It’s pride that led the first humans to turning away from God in the garden, and it’s pride that blinds us to our own sinfulness. The good news, though, is that Jesus teaches us what it is like to come face-to-face with the enemy and to be tempted towards and yet turn down the spiritual snare of pride.

Let Love Lead // Love Leads Us Home // Kate Murphy

It was love that led Jesus to put his own beloved body between us and the raging powers of sin, death, fear, hate, and violence. And it is that same love that leads us close to our enemies in humility and, even closer, to home.

Because the truth is that sometimes, surprisingly, it is hard to let love lead us to the ones we love the most. To lean into this mystery, we are looking at one of Jesus’ most familiar stories, the parable of the prodigal son. In particular, we’re focusing on the unsatisfying ending of the older brother standing outside the homecoming party, not celebrating, but instead resenting his younger brother’s restoration to the family.

Mother Theresa famously said, “if you want to save the world, first go home and love your family.” Too often, when we do embrace the radical root of Christianity, we sometimes act as though we are too spiritually elite to love the people closest to us. But if it’s true that the way we love our enemies is the way we love God (which, by the way, it is true), then it’s equally true that the way we love our families is the way we love God.

Let Love Lead // Love Leads Us to Our Enemies // Kate Murphy

The whole country is focused on love this week, but by the time Sunday rolls around, everyone will have moved on. The flowers will be wilted, the chocolate gone, and the stores will be decorated for Easter.

But at The Grove, we’ll still be worshipping, talking, and singing about love. Just not the kind of love that’s celebrated in Hallmark cards.

When we let the love of Christ lead us, it directs us towards the people we least want to love. Strangers. Enemies. People who won’t love us back.

But like Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what good is that? Even sinners love those who love them back.” The love of Jesus leads us towards those we have no earthly reason to love. And if that just seems wrong to you, well then you’ll find good company with the prophet Jonah. We’re stopping to take a seat next to him underneath the unpredictable plant, and listening as he argues with God about the unfairness of God compelling us to serve our enemies. Then, we’ll hear what God has to say about it.

Let Love Lead // Love Leads Us to a Garden // Kate Murphy

Last summer, our young people returned from the Montreat Youth Conference full of passion about all they’d seen and heard. They spent a week worshiping, studying, and reflecting on the theme “Let Love Lead.” As they shared their testimonies, we all saw how this radically simple concept gave them a powerful way to claim their Christian identity.

I listened, that day in July, and thought we need this here, too.

So for the next three weeks, our worship theme is “Let Love Lead.” We’ll dig into the beautiful hard truth that God is love. We are comfortable with that truth, as long as it stays a slogan on our coffee mugs, but when we let the Holy Love of God lead us, we end up in hard and dangerous places.

So come on in and join us (in spirit and in podcast) for worship. Let the holy truth that God is love catch your soul on fire. See how that love will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death, loss and pain—into the glory of freedom and salvation.

This Is Us // Everybody Can Be Led By the Spirit // Panel Discussion

Our fifth guiding principle at The Grove is “We seek to be led by the Holy Spirit.”

Who among us could argue with that ideal? We all agree that following the Spirit is faithful and leads us to a life of loving abundance. We’d all like to turn over our most difficult choices to God. But, how do you actually do it?

How do you figure out what to do? How do you know if you are following the Spirit or if you are just doing what you want to do and calling it faithfulness?

This Sunday, four of our very own Grove friends (listen in to find out who!) will each share a story of a time in their life when they allowed themselves to be led by the Spirit. You’ll hear about what the Lord called them to do, what it cost them, how it blessed them, and what they understand now about being led by the Spirit that they didn’t know before.

This Is Us // Anything Can Be Resurrected // Kate Murphy

We — that is, those of us who call the Grove community home — have been called to be a ministry of hope in our East Charlotte neighborhood and beyond, always believing and proclaiming what we know to be the truth: the same power that conquered the grave lives within us.

A place in the Hebrew scriptures (II Kings) where God demonstrates his power at work, in and through his people, is a story of Elisha’s visit to a certain widow. He tells the widow to ask all of her neighbors for empty jars and then, as a prophet filled with God’s power, helps to break the curse of debt enslavement. How? By multiplying the small resource of one person and the empty jars gathered from her friends.

The truth is, when community transformation is our larger goal, God will both bless and astonish our community; he will set the captives free and fill all those empty places in our lives where we lack and are lost in need.

How can we invite our neighbors to bring with them, not just their resources, but also their emptiness? How can we live trusting God’s power to use everything we bring, even the things that our culture says aren’t valuable?

I hope you’ll listen in to find out.

This Is Us // Anybody Can Be Transformed // Kate Murphy

We believe in the power of God to change lives. Including yours. Including mine.

“You must be born again,” Jesus told Nicodemus. It’s a message for us too.

This Sunday, we examine our third guiding principle and one of its root biblical stories. We also look at the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and how embracing the way of Christ changes lives—making possible the perpetual chain reaction of changed lives changing communities that change nations. Listen in to hear a message at the very foundation of who we are as a community of believers, remembering that we are believers not merely in the existence of Jesus, but in the transformation he made possible.

This Is Us // Everything Is Broken // Kate Murphy

The second guiding principle of The Grove is a both a confession and a call to action:  “We are a broken and sinful people who practice forgiving and being forgiven.”

That statement is easy to affirm while seated in the pews on Sundays, but it’s easy to ignore when someone does you wrong.  How do we respond when, despite our authentic desire to live in a loving community, we hurt each other?  Do we shake our heads and walk away to search for a new community more worthy of us? Do we stay but disengage, swallowing our pain and anger and hiding behind masks?

Friends—the love of God is not fragile. It is powerful and robust and well-equipped to redeem our humanity. God has given us a way to transform pain into healing and division into healthy relationship. That way is the process of forgiving and being forgiving.  Listen in and and learn how you can play a part.