This Is Us // Diversity // Kate Murphy

This week we bless the backpacks of our students and teachers of many ages, cultures, and ethnicities as they embark upon a new school year. Watching everyone stream forward from the pews, dragging their bags behind them—from tiny preschoolers to seasoned teachers and administrators—is an amazing example of what is so wonderful about our community and how we aim to resemble God’s people gathered in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Fittingly, we also wrap up our worship series “This Is Us” with a celebration of our core value of diversity and a discussion about what we’re willing to sacrifice fighting for it.

This Is Us // What it Means to “Come Alive in Christ” // Kate Murphy

This Sunday, we continue our “This Is Us” worship series, which is all about the unique mission and culture God is calling (and equipping) us to create here at The Grove. We’re doing a deep dive into our mission statement—Inviting All to Serve and Come Alive in Christbecause we can’t be on a mission together unless we understand it and believe in it.

This week we look at the story of Jesus delivering the Gerasene man from his demons and talk about what it means to “Come Alive in Christ”  We’ve all got demonsevery one of us—and they threaten to fill us up to make it hard to receive the new life Jesus has for us.  Listen in as we talk about how to do something about it.

Freedom School Sunday // True Freedom // Kate Murphy

This week we celebrate Freedom School Sunday—a time set aside to welcome our Freedom School interns and scholars (and their families) to celebrate the incredible gospel-ministry happening on our campus during these six weeks.

This Sunday might just be my favorite. Why? Because Freedom School is more than a summer camp or an intensive reading program. It’s a place where kids discover that they are already enough, already beloved, and already worth celebrating. It’s a time when kids learn to silence the voices that limit them with lies or tell them that they’re broken or bad. In other words, Freedom School is the gospel in action—it is a real life example of truth walking off the Bible’s pages and into the hearts of children where it will dance and flourish. Freedom School is a jubilee-deliverance-welcome-to-the-Kingdom-of-God-miracle kind of party. And, I don’t know about you, but I could use some more of that in my life.

So join us and our Freedom School family, and learn how Jesus is still in the business of healing and setting us free.

At the Table: The Meaning of Communion // Kate Murphy

This Sunday, we gather for worship and communion. We gather to have communion—connection with God and with one another. And we gather to take communion, to share the Lord’s supper together. Before coming to the table, we turn to Matthew’s gospel and read the story of Jesus sharing the bread and cup with his friends. Together, we ponder the meaning and power of the meal Jesus invited us to share.

Please listen in, and bring your doubts and curiosity. If you’ve ever wondered what communion means, why it matters, or if you (or your neighbor) really belong at the table—this is for you.

In the Middle // Pushing Past Opposition // Kate Murphy

This week we dive into the story of Nehemiah and how he began to rebuild the city walls. Even while facing opposition and insult, he prayed and continued to persevere. This was no easy mission. For the people, it seemed impossible and even pointless to build the walls—they were tired, their strength from all the labor was giving out, and they began to believe the insults of their enemies. For them, it seemed easier to just let things stay the way they were.

Often times, we go through life feeling like this, too. We become used to the way things are and indifferent to the real effort and sacrifice required of every generation to renew and repair what is sacred. And friends, everything that we are called to restore and rebuild is as holy and essential as the work of rebuilding the temple, and even the city walls.

Listen in and be encouraged as we discover that all work done to the glory of God is holy work.

In the Middle // Rebuilding // Kate Murphy

We are midway through this year, and being in the middle can be a difficult place to be. Grand beginnings are exciting and carry their own kind of energy and promise (hello, new year’s resolutions) and happy endings are, obviously, satisfying. The trouble is getting from one to the other. The trouble is being in the middle—when the initial excitement has long since disappeared. This is when work feels tedious, the mind and body have worn out, and progress appears minimal. The middle is when the crowd has moved on, the money has run out, unanticipated challenges have sprung up like weeds, and carrying on seems delusional. When you are in the middle, you can barely hear anything over the voices saying, “You’ll never finish,” “You’re wasting your time,” “You’re not enough.”

This Sunday, we’ll worship in the middle—and we’ll listen to the voice of Nehemiah who was called by God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah knew the despair and danger of the middle, and his story will inspire and encourage us all as we find ourselves in the middle of our own journeys.

Pentecost Sunday // Being Filled With What Matters // Kate Murphy

It’s Pentecost. The day that God opened up the heavens and, for the first time, poured out the Holy Spirit—the Spirit that indwelled and empowered Jesus—into the open and waiting hearts of all disciples. It’s the day when holiness was unleashed and altars became unnecessary.  It’s the day Moses’ wish came true. It’s the day the curse of Eden was reversed.

But even though God was sharing with us the greatest gift imaginable—God’s own Spirit—we don’t always actually want it. Sometimes we look to God only to fill our physical needs and ignore the much greater spiritual gifts that are right before us. The Israelites, our spiritual predecessors, often were the same way. So this Pentecost we look back to a story in the Book of Numbers, from the Hebrew Scriptures, about how the Israelites misunderstood God’s gifts much as we do and suffered the consequences.

Follow Through // Religion // Kate Murphy

Jesus was a terrible dinner guest. Invited to an impromptu supper with the Pharisees, Jesus offends everyone by refusing to wash his hands before the meal. When his host protests, Jesus lays into him, accusing all the Pharisees of caring more about religious purity rituals than ethical integrity. He says they are like white washed tombs—beautiful and clean on the outside, but inwardly full of decaying flesh. When a lawyer, a fellow dinner guest, sticks up for the host, Jesus slams him (and all of his kind) for murdering the prophets.

Jesus wasn’t at this supper for food and polite conversation; he came hungry for a fight. What was it about their rule-following that had Jesus so bent out of shape?  Listen in to find out.

Luke 11:37-54

Follow Through // Weakness // Kate Murphy

At the moment God called Gideon a “mighty warrior” and chose him to lead the Israelites into battle against a vast and powerful army, Gideon was hiding—trying to thresh the family wheat in a wine press so that he wouldn’t be seen and attacked by the enemy.  Gideon was the youngest member of the weakest tribe in Israel.

Gideon—the young, fearful, wouldn’t-be warrior—wasn’t the type of leader we would expect. He was physically, mentally, and spiritually weak.  But God didn’t choose Gideon in spite of his weakness.  God chose him because of it.  Looking at Gideon’s story in Judges 7:1-12, we actually get the sense that God delights in our weakness.  But God does not use our weakness to then make us strong.  God uses our weakness to show God’s own strength.  Gideon’s story is also an example of the tragedies that can happen when God’s anointing on us makes us overly confident in our own abilities.

Listen in as we learn how we can prepare to trust God and delight in his faithfulness when we need it most.

Follow Through // Success // Kate Murphy

We’re always going to feel “too something” to follow Jesus—too busy, too scared, too sad, too whatever. There isn’t an ideal time to choose to follow—only now.  This Sunday, we tackle what might be the most difficult thing to follow Jesus through—our own “success,” at least as our culture defines it.  How can we choose to follow when we feel like we don’t need to follow to get what we want? And when we feel that way, how do we go abut trying to change the things we want?  Listen in to find out.