A letter from Pastor Bob

Dear GC family,

Words eluded me for several days in the wake of the video revelation of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Feeling flat and breathless, I finally remembered this was the same feeling I had last August when my civil rights pilgrimage ended in Montgomery at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice; also known as the ‘Lynching Museum’. Same horror. Same feeling. Same loss of words. I’m sorry for the delay. 

Praying for words, I wrote the final draft of this week’s sermon today. I humbly offer to my sisters and brothers of color, the last 3 sermon minutes below. These words and the context that precedes them will arrive by video on Sunday at 10am, in GraceCity’s online worship on this page.

For your consideration, here’s the final 3 minutes of my manuscript, centered on the text from Luke 11:9-10 you read above…

“…and speaking of heaven, Jesus’ teaching on prayer brings radical connection not only to God, but to one another as well. GraceCity, the “body of Christ” is much more than a collection of people who believe the same way. On earth, the body of Christ is the most important reality to portray heaven.

‘Ask, seek and knock’ applies to the activity of the church. Don’t be stingy with these actions across quarantine. These words are laden with power, and humility too…because these are words of community GraceCity. 

ASK and you are suddenly not alone in a community primed (at it’s best) to meet your need. 

SEEK those in need. Be like Christ who stops teaching to feed the 5000, interrupts the urgent to find the hemorrhaging woman, declares to the leper who appears in his path, “of course I’m willing, be clean.”

And KNOCK…  Knock. Knock repeatedly and powerfully over against the ongoing  structural injustices that plague our world. Here’s my personal “knocking prayer” following the events of this week and the horrific history that precedes… Join me if you like.

“Lord this week once again, we all witnessed a familiar horror, as a black man was murdered, this time while jogging. I can barely breathe in the watching. It reminds me that I need to lose my breath more often over the everyday injustices of our Baltimore, our America, our world. 

Lord, my sisters and brothers of color continue to live in frustration, fear, and exhaustion, all of which leads to rightful anger. I join in full agreement with their voices. I stand with them against racial violence, and all racialized sin. Lord, right now, we need your intervention. Don’t allow the new suffering of plague, to give cover to that which perpetuates the old suffering of racial injustice. Our brothers and sisters cannot bear any more. Use this season of new suffering Lord, to render a new community of reconciliation on the other side of Covid; a community that stands immovable against racial sin, and stands immutably for your creation design of beautifully diverse people, on earth, just as it is in heaven. Amen.”

Family, I want to invite people who look like me to write their own “knocking prayer” this week if the Spirit moves you. Knocking brings action, allying our knock with the centuries old knocking that people of color pray so often. I believe it will help you deal with your own breathlessness, and proceed with hopeful strategic direction as you initiate such radical connection with our God and with our dear fellow followers of Jesus Christ. Perhaps your next steps will bring you to the street in new ways with your GC family. Corey and I are rightly proud of your steadfast determination to reconcile people to God and to one another, by the grace of Jesus Christ. It’s not an easy path. It’s not an easy church.

With breathless sighs, huge love, and appreciation always,

Pastor Bob 

GraceCity Happenings 4/20 – 4/26

*NEW* – 7 at 7 Weekly Prayer Meet Up

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Phillipians 4:6 (NIV)

GraceCity family, while we maintain physical distance, let us still take the opportunity to worship together in the nearness of God.  Every Tuesday for 7 minutes at 7 PM, members of our Elder board and Prayer Team will lead us through a time of corporate prayer surrounding a particular theme.  To join, use the following Zoom link

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 297 620 947
Password: gracecity

or call One tap mobile
+19292056099,,297620947#,,#,286147# US (New York)

*NEW* – Wednesday Word:  Wit, Wisdom, and Whatever

As our days at home threaten to look one in the same, tune in to Facebook Live on Wednesdays at noon for a midweek recharge with Pastor Bob and Pastor Corey.  They will share their wit, wisdom, and whatever else is on their hearts and minds. Along the way there will be some fun guests, such as medical professionals and community leaders, who will offer their perspectives on persevering and continuing to build reconciled communities.  So come, engage with our pastors and each other, and leave with a renewed outlook and a few laughs.  

Araminta Race Against Traffick 

Araminta Freedom Initiative’s annual Race Against Traffick 5K/10K Run and Family Fun Walk is happening virtually this year.  This fundraiser is critical to supporting Arminta’s mission to awake, equip, and mobilize the local church and community to combat domestic minor sex trafficking here in Maryland.  In this virtual race, you choose the distance and the course—5K, 10K, or 0.05K from your bed to the couch. Join the GraceCity team and raise awareness among your friends by signing up today.

New Series: Radical 

During his ministry Jesus often taught through parables, introducing stories familiar to his listeners — “A man was going from Jerusalem to Jerhico when he was attacked by robbers…” “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and inviting many guests…”  “There was a man who had two sons…”  

Each story would end with a twist; a question or command that would determine whether you understood its meaning.  

Which of these three do you think was a neighbor?  

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life.  

Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?  

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.  

His stories appeared straightforward, but his lessons ran counter to the world’s prevailing wisdom and concerns.  

For our final series from the Gospel of Luke, Radical, we return to Jesus’ ministry in the time period between his revolutionary arrival and triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  We’ll examine Luke’s account for insight on what it was like to walk side by side with Jesus. Join us at GraceCity, where we’ll discover that a revolution of hearts and minds, coupled with the resurrection power of Christ, gives us eyes to see and ears to hear Jesus. With that wisdom, we may indeed recognize Jesus preparing in advance radical works for us to accomplish!  His invitation is simple. “Follow me.”

April 2020 – Holy Week

8 Day Prayer Guide – In this time of uncertainty, we, God’s people, look to Him for our answers, our protection, and our hope.  Please join us this Holy Week in prayer with this 8 Day Prayer Guide as we can prayerfully respond to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

You can continue to find our 10am Sunday services online. Join us on YouTube or Facebook.  Also for the first Sunday’s of the month we will be doing communion.  See these instruction.  

This year we are kicking off something new by celebrating Maundy Thursday 4/9. Join GraceCity for a virtual time of fellowship Thursday, April 9th at 6-7pm on Zoom.

You may choose to eat while you chat OR simply enjoy the time of gathering with the church family. We will start as a whole group in prayer promptly at 6, then we will split into breakout rooms for fun dinner party questions. We will end with a time of communion as a family. Feel free to use what you have in your house to partake in this communion time together.

We will send out the Zoom link and additional instructions the day before Thursday. So please sign up ASAP! shttps://gcbaltimore.ccbchurch.com/goto/forms/43/responses/new

On Good Friday, April 10th, we will continue our tradition of the Seven Last Words of Jesus on the Cross, preached by 7 preachers from around the city. Don’t miss this glorious portrait of the kingdom of God here on earth. Invite your friends and neighbors to tune in on YouTube or Facebook. Even more so this year, this service is a great opportunity to worship together as the broader Baltimore Church!

We  have launched a new initiative, “You are not Alone”. We know the needs of our congregation are broad from isolation, to anxiety, to material resources.  Follow the link to the form to let us know.  In addition, if you are interested in serving to provide care, please let us know that as well through the same form.