A Pastor’s Note to Grace Covenant – March 5, 2021

The renowned Canadian Anglican Theologian, J.I. Packer, in his classic book, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, noted:

“It is God’s way regularly to withhold His blessings until His people start to pray.”

Likewise, The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, in a paper titled Prayer Strategies for the Evangelization of Cities and Nations, declares:

If the church is to be effective in evangelizing the community it serves it must first commit to a strategy of prayer that will prepare the individual hearts of people to receive and positively respond to the gospel message, as well as impact the spiritual soil of a whole city, thus creating an environment of openness to the gospel in the hearts of the unsaved.

I want to thank everyone who participated in our online prayer gathering on Thursday evening. And, I want to again thank David Lunt for running Zoom for us. We had a good turnout, and committed ourselves to praying for our community – Williamsburg and the Historic Triangle. In addition to praying that God would be at work in and through our church, shaping Grace Covenant to be a blessing to our community, in accord with such passages as Jeremiah 29.4-7 and Proverbs 11.10, we prayed for God to be at work in and through other area churches; we prayed for the flourishing and prosperity of the Greater Williamsburg area, and for our local leaders, first responders, schools, families, etc. We prayed for College of William & Mary, faculty and staff, students, and campus ministries. And we prayed for our Neighbors in Need – the marginalized, homeless, and neglected – as well as for the ministries and agencies that aim to assist those who most need help. All of this was our privilege, as children of God and citizens of the Kingdom of Christ. We pray, not just for ourselves, but for those around us as well. This is not just “the least we can do”. Prayer is an important way we can love our Neighbors. Prayer is also a powerful act of mission to our community. For in prayer we bring the power and grace of God upon our community.

While the quarterly prayer gathering is now past, our opportunity to pray is ongoing. We can, and should, pray for our neighbors any time – and regularly. And we have another opportunity to pray together as a church family this weekend.

On Saturday morning, March 6, Mark Mortier will be leading in a Prayer Walk in and around Colonial Williamsburg and the town around it. This is open to any who have interest in participating. Mark & Ramona Mortier will be our front of the W&M Bookstore on DOG Street from 8-9am. Those who come during that time will be given some simple instructions, and a map with some simple prayer prompts. After that you can begin your prayer walk journey, as couples; or in pairs or groups of friends; or if you come alone, and want to be paired up, you’ll have that opportunity as well. The point is, we get out, walk, and pray for our neighbors. If you have never participated in a prayer walk, it is really that simple. There is no expectation that you should confront any strangers. There is no drawing attention to yourself. It’s just walking (getting some exercise) and praying. Sometimes prayer walking is described as “praying on site with insight” because what you see, as you walk, is the prompt for prayer. Just walking and praying. That’s it. So I hope you will join us.

Secondly, I want to remind everyone that on Sunday, March 7, we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper at Grace Covenant. We offer this notice because, in our tradition, we believe it is important and beneficial to prepare ourselves before we gather and partake of the elements of the Table. Advanced preparation of ourselves minimizes the potential of coming to the Table in an “unworthy manner”, as the Apostle Paul warns about in 1 Corinthians 11. We ought to pay particular attention to matters of the heart – anger, bitterness, thanklessness, or unforgiveness. But we also all benefit by meditating on the promises of grace, which partaking of the Table offers as we come faithfully and “in faith”. Some may benefit by reading more about the Lord’s Supper. There are many good resources that can help increase our understanding and appreciation, which in turn can aid our experience in partaking of the Table. Here are a couple short articles, as suggestions:

Just a reminder, during this time of pandemic, the Session of Grace Covenant invites all Believers in Jesus Christ, who have been baptized, and who are members in good standing with any Bible believing church, who are worshipping with us, whether in-person or at home, to join us in partaking of the Table. For those who are worshipping with us via LiveStream, it requires a little extra preparation. We urge that you prepare, in advance of the service, by setting aside a bread or matzah and cups of wine or grape juice. At the time during the service when those who are in the sanctuary come to receive the elements you should distribute the elements to those who are worshipping with you. (Please note, we discourage giving elements to children who have yet to be admitted to the Table. If you have questions about why we discourage this, any of our Pastors or Elders will be more than willing to discuss our reservations. But we do encourage explaining to inquiring children what the Table represents and promises.) When the people are invited to “eat” and “drink”, we also invite you who join us online to partake at that time. [This is just a temporary accommodation, while so many are unable to be present because of the potential health risks. When the pandemic has passed, we will only encourage participation of those who are present in the sanctuary. But for now, we invite all who worship with us to prepare themselves for the table.]

Wrapping up this note, I just want to offer a quick note as a reminder, Easter is fast approaching. Only a few weeks away. Though there are many indicators suggesting that, with vaccinations, some of the present social distancing restrictions are likely to soon be lightened or even removed, we still expect there will be need for reservations for our Maundy Thursday and Easter morning services. Instructions and links for registration will be sent out in a couple weeks, but we do want to put this on your radar. We are exploring some additional options, including a possible Sunrise service, but these are still in the early stages of consideration. So keep your eyes and ears open for more details in the coming weeks.

That’s it for this week. I look forward to seeing you Sunday, or at least sometime soon.

Grace & Peace,

W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor

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