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Grace Covenant Worship: June 7, 2020

gcpc

June 7, 2020

Words of Approach

[Congregation should respond to each Affirmation by declaring the words in Bold]

As followers of Jesus Christ, living in this world – which some seek to control, and others view with despair – we declare with joy and trust: Our world belongs to God!

From the beginning, through all the crises of our times, until the kingdom fully comes, God keeps covenant forever: Our world belongs to God!

God is King: Let the earth be glad!

Christ is victor: His rule has begun!

The Spirit is at work: creation is renewed!

Hallelujah!

~ from Our World Belongs to God, Articles 1-2

 Song of Approach          

Holy Holy Holy

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee, Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see; Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee, Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! All Thy works shall praise Thy name In earth, and sky, and sea; Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Words: Reginald Heber
Music: John Dykes
Public Domain

Prayer of Approach   

 

Invitation to Confession

Apart from grace we prove each day that we are guilty sinners: we fail to thank God, we break God’s laws, we ignore our tasks. Looking for life without God, we find death; grasping for freedom outside the law, we trap ourselves in Satan’s snares; pursuing pleasure, we lose the gift of joy.

~ from Our World Belongs to God, Article 15

Responsive Prayer of Confession

[This is an interactive prayer. Congregation should respond praying words in Bold.]

Lord, you showed us true humility by becoming one of us, yet too often we practice pride.

You cried alongside your friends and for the city of Jerusalem, yet too often we rush past the pain of others and are careless about our cities.

You loved those who were weak, despised, or cast out, yet too often we love those who are strong, respected, or popular.

You freely forgave and healed, yet too often we hold grudges and cause pain.

You lived a perfectly holy life, yet too often we do not yearn for righteousness.

You prayed that we who believe in you should be united with each other and you, yet too often we focus on the differences that separate us from other believers.

You were mocked, whipped, and even killed for us, yet too often we deny you – if not with our words, with our actions and our inaction.

You call us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, yet too often we blend into or hide from our culture.

Forgive us, Lord! Make us to shine with your glory.

Silent Confession of Personal Sin & Brokenness

[Spend a moment in silent confessing prayer. If you are not sure what to pray consider any ways in which the points of the corporate confession above may be true of you.]

Words of Grace   

~ Isaiah 53:4-6

Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Prayer for God’s Protection, Provision, and Guidance

Meditation on God’s Word

Scripture: Matthew 7.1-5

Message: Why Don’t We Notice Our Own Stuff

Rev. W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor

Prayer & Lord’s Prayer

 [After the pastor prays following the message, the congregation will join in and we will offer the Lord’s Prayer together.]

Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. – Amen.

Song of Dismissal     

Jesus I My Cross Have Taken

Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow Thee. Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my all shall be. Perish every fond ambition, All I’ve sought or hoped or known. Yet how rich is my condition! God and heaven are still my own.

Let the world despise and leave me, They have left my Savior, too. Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like them, untrue. O while Thou dost smile upon me, God of wisdom, love, and might, Foes may hate and friends disown me, Show Thy face and all is bright.

Go, then, earthly fame and treasure, Come disaster, scorn and pain In Thy service, pain is pleasure, With Thy favor, loss is gain I have called Thee Abba Father, I have stayed my heart on Thee Storms may howl, and clouds may gather; All must work for good to me.

Soul, then know thy full salvation Rise o’er sin and fear and care Joy to find in every station, Something still to do or bear. Think what Spirit dwells within thee, Think what Father’s smiles are thine, Think that Jesus died to win thee, Child of heaven, canst thou repine.

Lyrics: Henry Lyte
Tune: Bill Moore
CCLI #360938/#20167508

Benediction

 

***

 

NOTES:

 

Passage Next Week: 

       Mark 10.35-52

 

Worship Leaders Today

  • Piano/Guitar/Vocals: Isaiah Day
  • Vocals: Jamie Field
  • Drums: Peter McHenry
  • Message: Rev. W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor
  • Liturgist: Rev. Camper Mundy, Associate Pastor
  • Congregational Prayer: Steve Tewksbury
  • Video/Sound/Tech: Tim Nargi

 

Special Note on Supporting the Mission & Work of Grace Covenant:

Our giving is an act of worship. It is a response to who God is and to God’s grace. Giving is a way that God invites us to participate in His work. During these extraordinary times, the life and ministry of our church will continue – even when we are not all able to meet together for worship.  We humbly but boldly ask the people of Grace Covenant to continue to give generously for the benefit of God’s kingdom here in Williamsburg and beyond.

You can make your gifts in any of three ways:

1) Online at www.gracecovpca.org/resources/giving

2) Sending your check to the church offices at 1677 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg VA  23185

3) Bringing your gifts with you to worship. We will not be passing an offering plate in our service for the foreseeable future, but an offering box is available for you to place your gift before or after each service.

If you would like to make a special gift to help those from our church and community who are in need, please write “Mercy Ministries” on the memo line of your check or select that fund when making a gift online.

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GCPC Children’s Lesson: Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son

 

 

In this week’s Bible story, Jesus brings the widow’s son back to life. Help your children to see how sad the widow must have been before Jesus raised her son from the dead and how Jesus had compassion on her.

Parent Page – explains the lesson focus and scripture memory, giving parents a good Bible background to go further with their kids.

Kid’s Activity –  lesson coloring sheet and other activities families can do together.

Thank you again for the privilege of being in your homes!

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A Pastoral Note to Grace Covenant – May 29, 2020

Captain John Smith Overlooks the James

Headlines of the week have caused Micah 6.8 to resound as a refrain in my mind. This charge from the prophet to the Lord’s people:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

I am often slow to chime in on hot-button issues that replay over and over and again on the news, not out of fear of the controversy, but out of caution to let the facts unfold before offering my two-bit opinion. But, while all the facts of the brutality that occurred in Minneapolis this week are likely a long ways off, what has been apparent is that injustice is alive in our country, and that it is just as deadly, and just as potentially viral, as this virus that has effected us all.  As God’s people we lament. And as God’s people we are also called to prophetically decry all expressions of injustice. The ESV translation of “act justly” is “to do justice”.  So it is not just a matter of you and me personally refraining from perpetrating injustice. God’s call is for us to stand with the powerless, and to stand up against injustice: abuse of power and authority, racism, deceit, violence, brutality,  and bloodshed. All of these are evident in this recent episode in which a police officer killed an already handcuffed man – with at least three other policemen apparently standing by just watching. And while Minneapolis may seem far away, expressions of injustice are also in our back yard.  Like the coronavirus, injustice may not always be evident to the eye, but the effects are devastating. What is even worse, the virus may be harmful but injustice is disgraceful.

My apologies if this seems like a bummer of a way to open a “pastoral note”.  As we move toward our community re-opening over the next several weeks, it has led me to begin again thinking about my hopes for Grace Covenant.  I want for us to be a godly church; faithful to love what God loves, and hate what God hates. (Psalm 97.10)  I want for us to celebrate all that God has made beautiful, and to be his servants who confront evil and ugliness. (Matthew 16.18)  I think of what I hope for Grace Covenant, I see so many ways God has graced us, and yet the headlines remind me of how fallen & broken our world is.

How thankful I am that Grace Covenant loves mercy! That is evident in your generosity, resourcing our Deacons to help those in need because of the economic shut-down – helping not only those who are part of Grace Covenant, but helping neighbors in need as well. Love of mercy is evident in the way you continue to care for one another, pray for one another, call one another, hang out with one another (with appropriate social distancing, of course!).  Love of mercy is evident in the kind phone calls made and the emails of encouragement sent to me – and to others on our church staff. Love of mercy is evident in those who have given of themselves to serve our neighbors and our community.

I am thankful that it is evident God is knitting us together as his church – his family. We not only mourn with those who mourn, but we celebrate with those who celebrate. Among those with whom we can celebrate this week are the recent college grads who are part of Grace Covenant.  I want to offer congratulations to the following for earning  their degrees:

Associates Degree

    • Sarah Rutan (Thomas Nelson; plans to matriculate @ ODU in the Fall)
    • Audrey Wilmoth (Thomas Nelson; plans to matriculate @ CNU in the Fall)

Bachelor’s Degree

    • Patrick Choi (William & Mary)
    • Emma Preston (William & Mary)
    • Christopher Robison (Grove City College)

Masters Degree

    • Jamie Field (Indiana Wesleyan University – Athletic Training)
    • Rebekah Griffith (Randolph College – Education)
    • Erica Pence (East Carolina University – Speech Patholology)

Doctoral Degree

    • Dena Kota (VCU – Pharmaceutical)

Congratulations to all of you! If I missed anyone, please let us know.   (We’ll recognize the high school grads in a few weeks. Charley is on it!)

Another note of congratulations is due as well. But this one requires a brief explanation.

Among the things that I love about Grace Covenant is that, from the very earliest days as a church, God has been raising people up and sending them out to serve: missionaries, college & seminary professors, a seminary president, youth ministers, music ministers, church planters, chaplains, and pastors. Not to mention the many who have been part of Grace Covenant’s family who have made an impact, though not in full time ministry! Well, one of Grace Covenant’s former students will become the Senior Pastor of Peninsula Community Chapel, in York County, near Poquoson, this weekend…

Congratulations to Garret Spitz! (During his time at W&M, Garrett was adopted by Wayne & Kathy Buhl, as part of our Adopt-a-Student program. So congrats, of sorts, to Wayne & Kathy, as well!)

Let’s pray that God would continue to raise up servants from Grace Covenant. May God continue to make us a church filled with those who “walk humbly with our God”.

I guess I’ll begin to wrap up this note.

Just a reminder, we begin next week, June 7, with a “soft” opening; meaning that we will shift to a live service, with relative few people in the sanctuary.  The service will begin at 10am, and will be LiveStreamed at that time. The reason for the “soft” opening is to allow us to work through the protocols that will be in place to ensure the health of those who choose to participate in weeks ahead. Exactly who will be in the sanctuary on June 7 has yet to be decided. Details will be sent out during the week, after the Session meets Tuesday evening.

On Sunday June 14, we plan to shift to our two service schedule, at 8:30 & 11am. Both services will be LiveStreamed, and we expect at least one of the services will be recorded and available on our web page.

Please continue to pray for our Elders and Deacons to have wisdom. We do not re-enter public worship lightly. We continue to monitor the status of the virus in our community; we urge those who fall into “at-risk” to worship with us from home via the LiveStream; and we fully respect the concerns of those who are uncomfortable about joining us in person just yet. Protocols for in-person worship will be published and sent out next week, or early in the week between June 7 – June 14, at the latest.

In the mean time, may God Bless you – and have a great week!

Grace & Peace,

W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor

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Grace Covenant: Info for May 31 Worship

Pentecost (1)

Sunday May 31 is Pentecost Sunday. Ten days after the ascension of Christ and fifty days after his resurrection, the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples on the day of Pentecost. Pentecost was an established Jewish festival of Shavuot, also known as the Feast of Weeks, which drew people from many nations back to Jerusalem. (Leviticus 23:15-21; Deuteronomy 16:16)

Pentecost symbolizes a new beginning. It celebrates the unleashing of the Holy Spirit on the world and the empowering of the church to reach the world with the gospel. In recognizing Pentecost, the church expresses its gratitude for the faithfulness of Christ in fulfilling his promise to send “another counselor” (John 14:16); celebrates the work of the Spirit in renewing all of creation; professes its confidence and security in knowing the Spirit’s power is available for its mission; and grows in awareness of the immensity of its calling to reach the world with the gospel.

While formal observation of the ecclesiastical calendar is not necessarily a big part among Grace Covenant’s traditions, awareness of certain days and seasons can offer a more well-rounded experience of our faith – somewhat like allowing us entry into the story, in our imaginations;  as well as enable us to feel connected to other Christians across differing traditions, and throughout the centuries. Many of us have sensed that connection on Easter Sunday and at Christmas. For many Christians, Pentecost falls just behind Easter in order of important Church holidays.

Our service this week will reflect a subtle acknowledgment of Pentecost. Clear recognition of the Holy Spirit is present in the prayers and songs.  While the Holy Spirit is always present, and always honored, in our worship services, a little more intentional attention is given this week.  Other than that, and other than the fact that this week’s service begins with a Responsive Prayer followed by the Words of Approach – and not the other way around – our service follows the familiar pattern.

Please print out a .pdf of the service for each person in your household/group to use, and please check out the digital worship outline, with videos embedded as tools for your worship.

GCPC Worship May 31, 2020 (.pdf)

GCPC May 31 Digital Worship Outline

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Grace Covenant Worship: May 31, 2020

Pentecost (1)

May 31, 2020 Worship

Responsive Prayer of Approach

[Have one person lead this prayer; all others respond by praying the words in bold aloud.]

Holy Spirit, Lord and giver of life: At the beginning of time you moved over the face of the waters; you gave every living thing the breath of life.

Come, Spirit of God, and renew the whole creation.

Holy Spirit, voice of the prophets: You enflame men and women with a passion for your truth, and through them you call your people to the ways of justice and compassion.

Come, Holy Spirit, and burn in our hearts.

Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Living God: By your power Jesus came to bring good news to the poor and release to those held captive.

Come, Spirit of God, and free us from the powers of sin and death.

Holy Spirit, Advocate, Teacher: You speak to us of our Lord and show us the depth of his love.

Come, Holy Spirit, abide in us and lead us in the way of Jesus Christ.

Words of Approach   

[Have one person read these words aloud.]

The Spirit gathers us to worship God and builds us up in faith, hope, and love so that we may go into the world to proclaim the gospel and work for justice and peace. Let us worship God together.

Song of Approach       

Come Thou Almighty King

Come, thou Almighty King, help us thy name to sing, Help us to praise. Father, all glorious, o’er all victorious, Come and reign over us, Ancient of Days.

Come, thou Incarnate Word, gird on thy mighty sword, Scatter thy foes. Let Thine almighty aid our sure defense be made, Our souls on thee be stayed; thy wonders show.

Come, Holy Comforter, thy sacred witness bear in this glad hour. Thou who almighty art, now rule in ev’ry heart, and ne’er from us depart, Spirit of power.

To the great One in Three eternal praises be, Hence evermore. His sov’reign majesty may we in glory see, and to eternity love and adore.

Lyrics: Anonymous
Music: Italian Tune
Public Domain

Invitation to Confession

[Have one person read these words as an invitation to confession of sin and brokenness.]

The Spirit of the Lord fills the world and knows our every word and deed. Let us then open ourselves to the Lord and confess our sins in contrition and faith.

Prayer of Confession

[All should pray this prayer aloud, together.]

Gracious God, who pours out freely the gift of your Holy Spirit: we confess before you and each other that we have failed to recognize this most precious gift. We have been satisfied with ordinary things, suspicious of unfamiliar things, and blind to spiritual things. Cleanse us, O God, with your heavenly fire. Burn away our presumptions and self-sufficiency, and enable us to receive the renewing touch of your hand.

Silent Confession of Personal Sin & Brokenness

[Spend a moment in silent confessing prayer. If you are not sure what to pray here is a sample prayer to use as is or as a template:]

Father of Mercies, I make so many mistakes; I turn away from you so often. I need you so much. Thank you that you so loved the world that you sent Jesus to die on the cross to save us from our sins. Amen.

 Words of Grace   

~ from Romans 8:1-2, 11

[Have one person read this passage aloud as a declaration of our pardon of sin.]

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life sets us free from the law of sin and death. And if the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in us, God who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies through the Spirit, who lives in us.

Song of Celebration    

You Are My King (Amazing Love)

I’m forgiven because you were forsaken. I’m accepted, You were condemned. I’m alive and well. Your spirit is within me Because you died and rose again. I’m forgiven because you were forsaken. I’m accepted, you were condemned. I’m alive and well. Your spirit is within me Because you died and rose again

Amazing love, how can it be? That you, my king. would die for me. Amazing love, I know it’s true. It’s my joy to honor you. Amazing love how can it be? That my king would die for me. Amazing love, I know it’s true. It’s my joy to honor you. In all I do I honor you.

I’m forgiven because you were forsaken. I’m accepted, you were condemned. I’m alive and well. Your spirit is within me Because you died and rose again.

Amazing love how can it be That you, my king would die for me. Amazing love, I know it’s true. It’s my joy to honor you. Amazing love how can it be? That you, my king, would die for me. Amazing love, I know it’s true It’s my joy to honor you. In all I do I honor you.

You are my king! You are my king! Jesus, You are my king! Jesus, You are my king!

Amazing love, how can it be? That you, my king. would die for me. Amazing love, I know it’s true. It’s my joy to honor you. Amazing love how can it be? That my king would die for me. Amazing love, I know it’s true. It’s my joy to honor you. In all I do I honor you. In all I do honor you.

Songwriter: Billy James Foote
© Shepherd’s Heart Music
CCLI #360938/#20167508

 

Offering

Our giving is an act of worship. It is a response to who God is and to God’s grace. Giving is a way that God invites us to participate in His work.  If you would like to give a tithe or offering today, you can do so by clicking: www.gracecovpca.org/resources/giving

 

Prayers for God’s Protection, Provision, and Guidance

[Spend a season in prayer as a group. Have one person serve as leader, offering the opening prayer, the lead into each petition, and the conclusion of the prayer. Pause after each petition. Any/All in the group should pray as the Spirit leads related to the particular petitions:]

Spirit of fire, who came as a rushing wind breathing life and hope into dead bones and cold hearts, we praise you for the comfort and guidance you have given the church throughout the ages:

  • for your work through the church universal . . .
  • for your sanctifying work in our lives . . .

Holy Spirit, we pray for your comfort, guidance, and power…

  • among those who are suffering; experienced recent loss; etc. . . .
  • as we extend the hope of Christ to our community and to our neighbors . . .
  • for the nations of the world . . .

We pray in the name of the Father and the Son, who live and reign together with you, one God forever and ever. Amen

Meditation on God’s Word

Scripture: Mark 4:35-41

[Have one person read this passage aloud. Then have one person, or several people, pray for the Holy Spirit to speak through this Word and message.]

Message: When Life’s Storms Threaten Us

Rev. Camper Mundy, Associate Pastor

 Song of Dismissal             

Isaiah 43

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, And the waves will not Overcome you. Do not fear, For I have redeemed you; I have called you by name. You are Mine.

Chorus:

For I am the Lord your God (I am the Lord your God), I am the Lord your God (I am) The Holy One of Israel; Your Savior  (2x)

I am the Lord (do not fear) I am the Lord (do not fear) I am the Lord (do not fear) I am the Lord (do not fear)

When you walk through the fire, You’ll not be burned, And the flames will not Consume you. Do not fear, For I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, You are Mine.

(Repeat chorus)

Songwriter: Unknown
Public Domain

 

Benediction

 

***

NOTES:

 

Passage Next Week: 

 

Matthew 7.1-5

 

Worship Leaders Today

  • Piano/Guitar/Vocals: Isaiah Day
  • Vocals: Jamie Field
  • Message: Rev. Camper Mundy, Associate Pastor
  • Benediction: Rev. W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor
  • Video/Sound/Tech: Tim Nargi

 

Special Note on Supporting the Mission & Work of Grace Covenant:

During these extraordinary times, the life and ministry of our church will continue – even when we are not able to meet corporately for worship.  We humbly but boldly ask the people of Grace Covenant to continue to give generously for the benefit of God’s kingdom here in Williamsburg and beyond.

You can make your gifts in two ways:

1) Online at www.gracecovpca.org/resources/giving

2) Sending your check to the church offices at 1677 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg VA  23185

If you would like to make a special gift to help those from our church and community who are in need during this crisis, please write “Mercy Ministries” on the memo line of your check or select that fund when making a gift online.

 

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Slugs & Bugs Concert

SlugsBugs
Grace Covenant Children’s Ministry wants to help you keep your home filled with songs of truth and silliness!

With the Easter season officially coming to a close on Sunday with the celebration of Pentecost (the day where traditionally everyone wears red!), we thought it would be fitting to mark the season by singing through the words of Jesus.

Sing the Bible Volume 3 is a collection of 16 tracks all straight from scripture and focused on the life, words, and work of Jesus.

On Friday May 28 we are going to sing through the album together.

Join us, and wear RED!

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by clicking the Slugs & Bugs logo:

 

Slugs & Bugs Friday Concert 4pm CT
SLUGS & BUGS FRIDAY CONCERT!
MAY 29 – 05:00 PM – 30 MIN SHOW
$10 per family ticket.

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A Pastoral Note to Grace Covenant – May 24, 2020

Captain John Smith Overlooks the James

The good news is we may be beginning to see a light at the end of our tunnel. The bad news is, we don’t know for sure how far way the actual end of the tunnel is, nor what exactly we will experience once we come through the tunnel.

As I mentioned last week – and everyone knew already – Governor Northam opened the door for churches to legally begin gathering again for in-person worship. Many also seem aware that on Friday President Trump strongly urged the governors of states still prohibiting gatherings to make an exception for churches, though that urging has no effect on Virginia since any prohibition had already been lifted. I appreciate the President’s recognition of churches being “essential” (which many of us already knew).  Perhaps less helpful, though seeming well intended, are reports that state the President told churches to open their doors this weekend. With all due respect to the civil authorities, it is the place of neither the Governor nor the President to dictate what churches must and cannot do.

Several weeks ago the Elders of Grace Covenant decided to suspend in-person worship, and all in-person ministry activities, for an indefinite time because we believed that it was best for the physical health of the congregation.  We made this decision before there were any executive orders issued from Richmond. We made the decision because we believed wisdom dictated we do so, and because God’s Word requires we do everything in our power to preserve life.  Speaking only for myself, I have no regrets about that decision; nor have I heard regret expressed by any other church officer.

We are now coming to the time for us to re-open the doors to the church for in-person worship. Not because the President says we must, or because the Governor says we can, but because we believe it is time. At least, we believe it is time to begin a phased re-gathering, with appropriate precautions, allowing those who are at lower risk of serious effects from the COVID virus to gather for in-person worship.  But there are a number of preparations that we feel we need to make before simply swinging the church doors wide open. In this note I hope to communicate the pertinent decisions and the essence of the thinking of Grace Covenant’s church officers.

As many are aware, Grace Covenant’s Elders and Deacons met this past Tuesday evening, via Zoom, to discuss the particulars about re-opening, the protocols that will need to be put in place for the protection of worshipers, and the preparations that will need to be made. It was a fruitful and good spirited meeting.

The short of it is this: Grace Covenant will not host open in-person worship before June 14. June 14 is essentially our target date, but between now and then we will be keeping watch on what is happening in other parts of the country that have been opened for longer periods, and keeping an eye on the trends in our own area, in case there is any reason we would be wise to delay further. While we came to our decision on our own, the date correlates with when a number of other Williamsburg area churches are planning to hold their first in-person services.  I have been in communication with the pastors of several of these church, and we are sharing thoughts and ideas about best practices. But Grace Covenant’s decision was made independent of any other congregation.

We are hopeful that beginning preparations for mid June offers us the time to follow a wiser course for the protection of the physical health and the peace & unity of our church than if we were to rush into a return.  We are very much sensitive to the fact that within our own church we have both those who are very concerned about the continued threat of the virus, and others who are willing to take the risk to be back together worshiping with others. There is no way we will be able to satisfy all. But our hope is a little patience on the part of those anxious to return will also offer some encouragement to those who have greater concerns.

Here are some of the particulars related to resumption of in-person gatherings:

  • On Sunday June 7 we will hold a “soft” opening, with a limited number of people in the sanctuary, LiveStreaming the service at 10am. This service is expected to be taped, and available for later participating. It also provides opportunity to work out our protocols.  On Sunday June 14 we plan to move to two services, at our regular 8:30 & 11am times. Both services will be LiveStreamed; at least one of these services should be recorded.
  • We are encouraging all who are in the “at risk” category to remain home until that time when it is deemed “safer” to rejoin us. Recognizing that this could be a significant portion of our congregation, and because we value all of you, we have upgraded our camera and tech capabilities so that we can provide you with a much better LiveStream than we have previously been offering.
  • The number of people allowed to participate in any service will be limited by our ability to practice safe social distancing. We will plan for two services each week, beginning June 14. If the number of participants outpaces our ability to accommodate everyone while practicing safe social distancing, we will offer a third service if necessary.
  • There will be no nursery offered until further notice. Children are more than welcome in the worship service, if families are comfortable bringing them; but for the safety and conscience of our nursery volunteers, and to minimize the possibility of transmission of the virus, we will not initially provide a nursery for children.
  • All in-person Children’s and Youth activities will remain suspended until further notice. This includes our annual VBS, which was scheduled for the week of June 15-19. Alternative activities are being developed. More info on these will be provided at later dates.

There are other protocols, as well. Those will be published and sent out at a later time. But for now, hopefully the most immediate questions have been answered – when will we resume? what will be offered?

Let me finish with this: several noted churchman from around the country have suggested that this virus, and our response to it, poses perhaps the greatest threat to church unity in our lifetime. I do not know if that is hyperbole or not, but the potential for frustration and division is quite apparent.  People have a wide range of opinions about this virus, yet we still know little about it. Unfortunately the politicization of this pandemic has poisoned the reliability of much of the information we do receive. And as Christians we are no more innately immune to the frustration than we are to the virus. For all these reasons, and more, I want to commend to you an article published by The Gospel Coalition last week: Church, Don’t Let Coronavirus Divide You by Brett McCracken.

I share this article, not because I have seen any evidence in our church that causes me concern. On the contrary, you have all been fabulously supportive of our (sometimes feeble) efforts to minister to you; you have been gracious, encouraging, generous… while I hope to never have to pastor in such circumstances again, you have made serving this church as much of a joy as I imagine it can be during such times. I share this article as an invitation for us all to be united in prayer, united in purpose, because we are united in Christ, even if we may not all be united in opinion at this time about the best courses of action moving forward. I pray, with great hope and confidence, that for us, for Grace Covenant, this potential fissure will only serve to strengthen our Oneness in Christ, and deepen our love for one another.

Grace & Peace,

W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor

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Grace Covenant: Info for May 24 Worship

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This is Ascension Sunday. Throughout the world, on Thursday of this past week, followers of Jesus Christ recognized Ascension Day. Ascension Day, the fortieth day after Easter, marks the day on which Jesus went to the Mount of Olives with his disciples and ascended to heaven before their eyes (Acts 1:1-12).  Ascecnsion Sunday is usually recognized on the Sunday after, or the Sunday closest to, Ascension Day.

Though often overlooked, the ascension of Christ is filled with theological significance. Christ’s ascension means that in heaven there is one who, knowing firsthand the experience of suffering and temptation, prays for us and perfects our prayers. The ascension is a witness and guarantee of our own bodily resurrection, as well as an invitation for us to set our hearts and minds “on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1-2) to rule over all things in heaven and throughout the universe (Eph. 1:10, 20-23). Finally, the ascension of Jesus serves as the prelude to Pentecost, when the power of the risen Christ came upon all believers through the Holy Spirit.

Though not overt, our service this week subtly reflects our recognition of Jesus’ ascension. You will find it reflected in the prayers, the confession, and elsewhere. Beyond that, however, the service follows the same pattern as most of our services have while we have been scattered.

As always, each person should have a copy of the .pdf worship outline to use during the time of worship. This outline has all the tools needed to participate.  Videos for all songs, for the message, and for the Benediction have been embedded into the digital worship outline, for use when each family or group gets to that point in the service. Instructions can be found under each element of worship, offering guidance for exercising the particular element. As with previous weeks, it is best if participants look through the worship outline in advance, and designate who will lead each part. Different people can lead different parts of the service, or one person can be designated to take the lead, allowing all others to worship in response.

Below please find links:

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Grace Covenant Worship: May 24, 2020

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May 24, 2020 Worship

Words of Approach   

 ~ from Psalm 47.5-8

[Have one person read these verses aloud.]

God reigns over the nations; He is seated on his holy throne. He has ascended amid shouts of joy, the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.

Song of Approach        

Better is One Day

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty. For my soul longs and even faints for you. For here my heart is satisfied, within your presence. I sing beneath the shadow of your wings.

Refrain:

Better is one day in your courts, better is one day in your house, better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere. Better is one day in your courts, better is one day in your house, better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere, than thousands elsewhere.

One thing I ask and I would seek: to see your beauty, to find you in the place your glory dwells. One thing I ask and I would seek: to see your beauty, To find you in the place your glory dwells.  [Refrain]

Bridge:

My heart and flesh cry out for you, the living God; your Spirit’s water to my soul. I’ve tasted and I’ve seen, come once again to me; I will draw near to you, I will draw near to you.

[Refrain]

Songwriter: Matt Redman
© Copyright 1995 Thankyou Music
CCLI #360938/#20167508

Prayer of Approach

[Have one person pray this prayer aloud.]

Almighty God, as we worship today, we ask that you will stretch our imaginations to sense the majesty and mystery of your ascension; and perceive the beauty and glory of your sovereign rule. Help us understand how Jesus’ presence in heaven can give us hope for the future; and confidence as we worship in your presence today. Through Jesus, our Lord. Amen

Call to Confession

[Have one person read these words as an invitation to confession of sin and brokenness.]

While we claim to celebrate the ascension of our Lord, the way we live proclaims our lack of faith in his power to deal with the world. Let us confess the incongruity between our faith and practice. Let us pray:

Prayer of Confession

[ALL pray in unison, in response to the Call to Confession.]

On this day of glory, O Lord, we confess our lack of trust. While we sing of your lordship over all creation, we have too often acted as though you are powerless in the face of today’s events. Help us to live with confidence in your presence today and in hope for life with you forever. Amen.

Silent Confession of Personal Sin & Brokenness

[Spend a season in silent confessing prayer. If you are not sure what to pray consider how you have personally struggled or even failed in relation to the issues expressed in the Prayer of Confession.]

Words of Grace   

~ based on Ephesians 2:4-7

[Have one person read this passage aloud as a declaration of our pardon of sin.]

Hear the good news of the gospel: God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. In Christ, by God’s grace, we are saved. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

Song of Exaltation

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed

Chorus:

Hail to the Lord’s anointed, great David’s greater Son! Hail in the time appointed, His reign on earth begun!

He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free, To take away transgression, and rule in equity. (Chorus)

He comes in succor speedy to those who suffer wrong, To help the poor and needy, and bid the weak be strong.

To give them songs for sighing, their darkness turn to light, Whose souls, condemned and dying, are precious in His sight. (Chorus)

He shall come down like showers upon the fruitful earth, Love, joy, and hope, like flowers, spring in His path to birth. (Chorus)

The tide of time shall never His covenant remove. His Name shall stand forever, That Name to us is Love. (Chorus)

Words: James Montgomery
Music: Sandra McCracken
©2012 Drink Your Tea Music
CCLI #360938/#20167508

 Offering

Our giving is an act of worship. It is a response to who God is and to God’s grace. Giving is a way that God invites us to participate in His work.  If you would like to give a tithe or offering today, you can do so by clicking: www.gracecovpca.org/resources/giving

Prayers for God’s Protection, Provision, and Guidance

[Spend a season in prayer as a group. Have one person serve as leader, offering the opening prayer, the lead into each petition, and the conclusion of the prayer. Pause after each petition. Any/All in the group should pray as the Spirit leads related to the particular petitions:]

Jesus Christ, mediator and high priest, we thank you for becoming human and for experiencing the joys and sorrows of life, which assures us that you are able to sympathize and rejoice with us. We praise you for the many joys of life:

  • for the beauty of creation, especially . . .
  • for your work in this world . . .
  • for the growth of your kingdom . . .
  • for the greatest source of our happiness, the gift of eternal life . . .

As our mediator, you stand before God, petitioning him on our behalf, so we boldly bring before you our prayers for

  • creation and its care . . .
  • the nations of the world . . .
  • our nation and its leaders . . .
  • our community and those in authority . . .
  • the Church universal as it works on your behalf . . .
  • Grace Covenant Church in its ministry . . .
  • persons with particular needs. . . .

We pray this in your strong name, O Christ, our mediator and high priest. ~ Amen.

Meditation on God’s Word

Scripture: Luke 24.36-49

[Have one person read this passage aloud. Then have one person, or several people, pray for the Holy Spirit to speak through this Word and message.]

 Message: Dealing With Our Doubts  (See video)

Rev. W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor

Song of Dismissal                 

Still

Hide me now Under Your wings Cover me Within Your mighty hand When the oceans rise and thunders roar I will soar with you above the storm Father, You are King over the flood I will be still and know You are God

Find rest my soul In Christ alone Know His power In quietness and trust When the oceans rise and thunders roar I will soar with you above the storm Father, You are King over the flood I will be still and know You are God

When the oceans rise and thunders roar I will soar with you above the storm Father, You are King over the flood I will be still and know You are God

Find rest my soul In Christ alone Know His power In quietness and trust When the oceans rise and thunders roar I will soar with you above the storm Father, You are King over the flood I will be still and know You are God

When the oceans rise and thunders roar I will soar with you above the storm Father, You are King over the flood I will be still and know You are God

Songwriters: Reuben Morgan
Still lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group
CCLI #360938/#20167508

Benediction

 

***

 NOTES:

 

Passage Next Week: 

       Mark 4:35-41

 

Worship Leaders Today

  • Piano/Guitar/Vocals: Isaiah Day
  • Vocals: Jamie Field
  • Message: Rev. W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor
  • Benediction: Rev. Camper Mundy, Associate Pastor
  • Video/Sound/Tech: Tim Nargi

 

Special Note on Supporting the Mission & Work of Grace Covenant:

During these extraordinary times, the life and ministry of our church will continue – even when we are not able to meet corporately for worship.  We humbly but boldly ask the people of Grace Covenant to continue to give generously for the benefit of God’s kingdom here in Williamsburg and beyond.

You can make your gifts in two ways:

1) Online at www.gracecovpca.org/resources/giving

2) Sending your check to the church offices at 1677 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg VA  23185

If you would like to make a special gift to help those from our church and community who are in need during this crisis, please write “Mercy Ministries” on the memo line of your check or select that fund when making a gift online.

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GCPC Children’s Lesson: Jesus Cures Ten Lepers

 

Jesus cured ten men of leprosy, but only one took the trouble to thank Jesus and give praise to God. Help your children this week to give praise to God for all of the good things in their lives.

Parent Page – explains the lesson focus and scripture memory, giving parents a good Bible background to go further with their kids.

Kid’s Activity –  lesson coloring sheet and other activities families can do together.

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