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

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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

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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

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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

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Decision-Week 5 // Pontius Pilate // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  Matthew 27:11-26

Dear Church,

‘I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your responsibility!’

So says Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea, as he washes his hands and knowingly condemns an innocent man to death.

It’s a terrible irony we are all too familiar with–Pilate, who has absolute power to condemn or pardon Jesus, pretends to be powerless and performs innocence. 

But saying, even believing, you are innocent doesn’t make it so.

Why was Pilate unwilling to use the power he was given to do the right thing? Though he was ‘amazed’ by Jesus, found evidence of no crime, recognized the self-interested duplicity of the accusers and was warned by his wife ‘not to have anything to do with that innocent man,’ Pilate decided to have Jesus crucified.  And he found a way to rationalize that decision.

Just as we all do when we knowingly participate in evil. 

For centuries, Christians have abhorred Judas for betraying Jesus.  But there is a long and rich tradition of believers venerating Pilate as a ‘secret Christian,’ even a saint.  Why do we condemn Judas but excuse Pilate?

Maybe because, in our heart of hearts we know that like Pilate, we have more power than we acknowledge and more culpability for the unopposed brutality of our world than we care to admit.

I hope you’ll join me as we soberly consider the life of our brother Pilate, what he did, what he should have done, and how we can seek Jesus for the grace and power to live faithfully in critical times.


Pastor Kate

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Decision-Week 4 // Who Knows You Best? // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  Matthew 26:26-35 & Matthew 26:47-75

Dear Church,

We choose to follow Jesus because we want to know God more fully and intimately. And so it is a gift, but not a surprise, that as our faith in Jesus grows, our knowledge of God grows as well.  We learn some things about God that amaze us, other things that astonish us, and more than we’d like that confuses and unsettles us.  Still, learning more about God is what we expect when we put our faith in Jesus.

What we don’t expect, however, is to learn so much about ourselves. 

We sign on for God-knowledge.  We also get self-knowledge, whether we like it or not.

Peter didn’t sign on for self-discovery. Like most of us, he thought he already knew everything there was to know about his own soul. Being Peter, he reasonably assumed that he was the expert on Peter. 

He wasn’t.

Very few of us would dare to argue with Jesus about who God is.  But most of us should be able to identify with Peter when he argued with Jesus about who he was.

We come to Jesus wanting to see and know God.  Part of that revelation is Jesus showing us our own sacred souls. 

For good and for ill, we are not who we believe we are. 

We do not know ourselves best. 

Jesus does. 

Part of deciding to follow Jesus requires believing what he shows us about ourselves.

It’s not always comfortable to let go of our self-illusions and believe Jesus when he shows us who we are.  But accepting that Jesus knows us best is what allows him to lead us.


Pastor Kate

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Decision-Week 3 // Judas // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  Matthew 26:1-14 -&- Matthew 27:1-10

Dear Church,

In response to the Jesus Super Bowl ad, a pastor named Mark Driscoll tweeted, ‘yes, Jesus washed Judas’ feet and then he sent him to hell’ #hegetsus

Well, then.

This Lent, we are focusing on the people who encountered Jesus in the last week of his life and decided for or against him. And on Sunday, we’re considering Judas’ decision to betray Jesus (with a kiss!) for 30 pieces of sliver.  For generations, Christians have told his story and wondered…

Can someone make a choice so terrible that it utterly destroys their humanity? Can someone commit an act so heinous that it makes them beyond all hope?

Can Judas be saved?

Should he be?

What happened to Judas?

I’ll tell you this, the way we tell Judas’ story reveals a lot about our own understanding of the power and will of God.

I hope you’ll join me as we consider the one Christians have condemned for centuries and then allow Jesus to feed us at his table.


Pastor Kate

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Decision-Week 2 // When Life Means Death // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  John 11:45-57

Dear Church,

In the gospel of John, Jesus’ fate was sealed after he raised his friend Lazarus from the dead.  There were plenty of  people who saw it happen: their neighbor, who died four days ago, stumbled out of the tomb after Jesus came and cried and called out, Lazarus, come!

It was bringing Lazarus back to life that led to Jesus’ death.

Some of those first-hand witnesses saw the miracle and believed in him.  Others saw and told on him. 

They ran to the leaders of their temples and synagogues and reported what they’d seen.  And those religious leaders called an emergency meeting of the Presbytery Sanhedrin to figure out what to do about Jesus. Because whoever he was, he was clearly going to change everything. And they were going to have to decide whether they were for that or against it. They decided that whatever Jesus was doing, even though it included raising the dead, they were against it. 

And like all people of faith ever since, we too must decide if we are for or against the way Jesus is changing everything.  Will we yield to the power of the glory of God Jesus unleashes in our lives? Or will we decide that some things are more sacred to us and must be protected from Jesus?

I hope you’ll join me for worship this Sunday at 10am–in the sanctuary or on the live-stream. Because Lent is a time set apart for us to reconsider and recommit to the way of Jesus.  And as much as we prefer the stories of those who decided for Jesus, it is good for our souls to contemplate how very similar we are to those who encountered Jesus and decided against him.


Pastor Kate

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Decision-Week 1 // Jesus Predicts His Death // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture:  Matthew 16:21-28 (NIV)

Dear Church,

“Get behind me Satan, you are a stumbling block to me.  You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16:23)

Jesus says a lot of shocking things, but this has to be one of the most jaw-dropping. And he doesn’t say it to the Pharisees or Sadducees or a hostile crowd.  He doesn’t even say it to actual Satan when the devil is tempting him in the desert.  He reserves these words for Peter, one of his closest followers.  And he says it to him immediately after Peter is the first disciple to recognize him as messiah and son of God.

These are harsh words.

But we have entered into the harsh and holy season of Lent.  For centuries, believers have set apart these 40(ish) days before Easter for prayer and contemplation and spiritual seeking.  Because the gospels show us clearly, it is hard to follow Jesus and easy to oppose him. Knowing who Jesus is, claiming him as Lord, even loving him is not enough. Jesus says, if we want to follow him we must–we must–deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow him.

The road to the cross is the road to glory and salvation–but it doesn’t seem like it until we have our minds set on the things of God.  And it is dangerously and deceptively easy to follow Jesus with our minds fixed on human concerns.

Jesus wasn’t being mean to Peter, he was being truthful.  The devil offered Jesus a way to gain the whole world while avoiding the cross.  And that’s exactly what Peter was trying to talk Jesus into when Jesus called him Satan.  Peter was Sur the cross was a waste and a trap.  He was sure there was another, better way. But there is no salvation without the cross. Not for Jesus and not for us.  Lent is a time to figure out what it looks like, not to believe in the cross, but to pick it up and walk with it.

But there is good news (because the gospel is always good news). Jesus tells the Devil to get away from him, but that’s not what he says to Peter.  Jesus tells Peter to get behind him–and that’s exactly where a follower belongs.


Pastor Kate

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Ash Wednesday // We Choose the Kingdom // Pastor Kate Murphy

We choose the Kingdom

Scripture:  Matthew 2:13-18 (NIV) – The Escape to Egypt

13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.

17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

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