A Pastor’s Note to Grace Covenant – September 4, 2021

Noted novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald mused: “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the Fall.” Well, while we still have a few weeks until Fall formally arrives, and a few more after that before the leaves reach peak colors, the recent relatively crisp morning air, the start of a new school year, and this being Labor Day Weekend all lend themselves to beginning to think thoughts of Fall. And here at Grace Covenant many things do “start all over again” in the Fall.

Fall Sunday School/Adult EDucation

Among those things that “start all over again” are our Discovery Class and Sunday School & Adult Education – all of which will launch next week, on Sunday September 12.

Discovery Class is designed to offer an introduction and overview of Grace Covenant. Discovery Class covers a range of subjects: our history, our beliefs, our connections, our values, etc. In short, Discovery Class is designed to share the DNA of our church. While Discovery Class is most commonly comprised of those who are relatively new to the church and who are exploring church membership, a commitment to join Grace Covenant is not a prerequisite to participation in the class. We welcome anyone who is even just a bit curious. Our hope is that the clarity that can be gained by participating in this class will be beneficial to you whether, at the end, you are ready to join or not. And just as this class is not limited to those who are committed to joining the church, neither is it limited to those who are new – or new-ish – to the church. At times we have had long-time members participate, just to get a refresher on some of the subjects, and as an opportunity to meet new friends. So, regardless of who you are, we invite you to participate in our upcoming Discovery Class – a 6 week course beginning Sunday September 12. It will be held in the church library (space permitting) during the Education Hour (10-10:45am) each week. And one final note, if you are interested in participating in Discovery Class, but you know you will be away or unavailable for some weeks this Fall, we are happy to have you the weeks you are available, and we have a way to help you cover whatever material you may have to miss. If you are interested in participating in Discovery Class, we ask that you sign up by e-mailing Kathy Buhl in the church office. Kathy will putting notebooks together for all the participants, and we want to make sure she has a notebook for you. If you have any questions you would like to have answered before signing up, feel free to email me (dennis@gracecovpca.org) or Jack Tuttle, the class coordinator. We would be happy to discuss your questions with you.

We are excited to be able to begin offering Sunday School and Adult Education again. It has been nearly 18 months since COVID and social distancing requirements have allowed us to do so. During our Education Hour, from 10-10:45am each Sunday, children will be able to participate in their age/grade designed classes, each led by caring, committed volunteer teachers and teacher assistants. For those new to Grace Covenant, the children’s classrooms are down the hall immediately opposite the worship area. This Fall, during Education Hour, we are pleased to be offering the course Relational Wisdom 360 – or RW360. RW360 was designed by Ken Sande, the same person who founded Peacemaker Ministries. While Peacemakers is designed to help resolve conflicts, which we all experience at one time or another, whether we are involved in the conflict or the mediator between others, Relational Wisdom is designed to be an “operating system for life”, helping to strengthen relationships even before there is any conflict, and renewing relationships in the midst or after conflict. Our entire Session (i.e. Council of Elders for those newer to Presbyterianism) went through this course together a couple years ago, and we all commend it wholeheartedly. The class, which will meet in the worship area from 10-10:45am each week, will involve instruction, brief video clips for illustration, and discussion. Even if it has been a long time since you have attended a Sunday School class, we would urge you to participate in this class. And please know, this is not a course just for the relationally challenged, or those who have difficulty making or keeping friends. This is stuff that will benefit anyone, no matter who you are or what your situation.

Now, here’s the question some of you have: What if I want to do BOTH? What if I want to participate in Discovery Class AND learn about Relational Wisdom? (We know that are asking that question, because some have already asked us that question!) If that is your question, just let us know. We have an answer for you. I won’t go into the answer here, but if you will let us know that you would like to do both, we will make arrangements for you to be able to benefit from both classes this Fall. Just contact the church office, and we’ll set you up.

Fall Sermon Series

As autumn comes, and things “start all over again”, so this Fall we will begin a new sermon series on Sunday mornings. the series is called “Stay the Course”. It is a survey of the Book of Hebrews. During this Fall we expect to study the first three chapters of this inspiring and important – though too often neglected – letter.

Hebrews is different from other books in the New Testament; it is not like the other letters we call “the epistles”. Unlike all other epistles, the author of Hebrews never identifies himself (though many theories abound), nor are we told to whom the letter is written (though almost universally it is understood to be written to Jewish Believers living, most likely in Rome). But it is not just the absence of those common elements of a letter that makes Hebrews stand unique, it is even more so the way the letter flows. As at least one commentator notes, Hebrews is “a sermonic letter”. In other words, it reads more like a sermon than like a letter. But, through it all, there are some common threads, most notably the frequent encouragements for the readers to endure, to “run the race” of life; and to keep our eyes on Jesus “the author and perfecter of our faith”. A repeated theme throughout the letter is “Jesus is Better”. “Better than what?” one might ask. Better than everything, seems to be the answer. And my hope for us in this series is that we will indeed see and be reminded of how true that is. Jesus is Better – by far.

As we did for our recently completed series through the Book of Romans, we want to provide everyone with some resources that should prove helpful and beneficial for our study of Hebrews.

As we did during out study of Romans, we will make Hebrews Scripture Journals available for all who want them. These scripture journals are helpful for keeping notes, whether during the messages or from your own study throughout the week. The Hebrews Scripture Journals will be available, beginning this weekend, in the Commons. We ask a recommended donation of $3 per copy. The donations are requested only. We do not want anyone who wants a journal, but is short on funds, to go without one. The request is simply to defray our expenses for this resource. (Scripture Journals retail for $7; we get them for just under $4/copy.)

There are two videos I want to commend:

Finally, as we did throughout our series in Romans, we want to issue a challenge to everyone: Read through the Book of Hebrews at least once per month during the months we are studying this letter together. In other words, at least once each during September, October, and November. Take a break, if you wish, during December, when we take a break from Hebrews and shift to our Advent series. Pick up the challenge again in January. It is amazing how the Word speaks to us when we read it again and again, especially as we are gaining new insights though our times of study together.

That’s all for now. I hope and pray everyone has a refreshing Sunday, and an enjoyable Labor Day holiday.

Grace & Peace,

W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor

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