Note: This page will only have the 3-4 most recent letters. For a full archive, please see our Granite Springs App.
The following letter was emailed to subscribers to the Weekly on May 14, 2020. Please check the Granite Springs App or your email for any more recent updates. If you are not subscribed to the Weekly, you can do so here. You can download the App here.
May 14, 2020
I still wonder how to pray during this time of quarantine.
A good friend, a pastor I love and trust, told me a couple weeks ago, “I don’t know how to pray right now. In fact, I’m not praying. I’m just putting my head down and doing my job.” I knew what he meant. And I imagine you do too.
With this viciously contagious virus spreading around the world, with the prospect of entire economies left reeling, when experts tell us the most loving thing we can do for our neighbors is to keep distance, how do we pray? Thankfully, no virus can stop the work of the church. I am so grateful for Granite Springs people who are leading worship, connecting with kids and teens, leading small groups, and providing pastoral care online from their living rooms. I’m thankful for such stellar Christian living.
But how do we pray during quarantine? How to we pray while sheltering (retreating/sequestering/cloistering) at home? As many thoughtful people have said, this is not the first time Jesus-followers have been called to pray during widespread disease.
In the sixth century, a fearful time for those who loved the peace and safety of the Holy Roman Empire, people were frightened by an economy in shambles, invading armies, and a terrible plague. In those same days, St. Benedict wrote a rule that still guides communal and personal prayer. Offering a rhythm of daily prayer, work, and singing the book of Psalms, he embraced the entire songbook of the Old Testament, including psalms (prayers) of lament. In that and every shadowy time of adversity, Jesus-followers took comfort knowing these communities were voicing their heartache and trouble to God. Psalm prayer was a profound way to show practical love for those they loved, and for the entire world.
Each day brings fresh agitation. I talk with friends who say “occasionally I feel settled, but soon I hear news that makes me feel ill at ease all over again. It’s like I’m riding an emotional roller coaster that I didn’t choose to get on and that I can’t get off.” Exactly.
In such a time we might be wise to follow the prayer practice of St. Benedict and so many wise Christians who have gone before and after (people like John Calvin and Martin Luther and Teresa of Lisieux and Thomas Merton) who loved the psalms and sang and prayed them multiple times each day. One such saint, called the “black dwarf” by his friends and enemies—and he had many enemies—wrote a letter of spiritual advice to a friend in turmoil. He offered prayer wisdom that very likely gave rise to Benedict’s rule and very personal spiritual direction still fitting today. Athanasius listed particular psalms for each of our emotions and realities—psalms for anger or sadness or grief or anxiety or celebration. In doing that he offered his friend, and all of us, the entire psalter, which he called “a very special grace.”
When we pray the psalms, we never pray alone. We pray with all who have gone before. And all who will go after. We pray with those we are sheltering with. And those we have never met—who live a street or an ocean away. And we pray with the Holy Spirit. The rascal-turned-monk Thomas Merton said, “we can never be more sure we are praying with the Holy Spirit than when we are praying the psalms.” Exactly.
I still don’t know how to pray just now. People around the world are suffering physically, spiritually, emotionally and economically. And anxiety keeps knocking on the door of my heart. Far too often I let it in. But in my better moments, my wiser moments, I follow Benedict and Athanasius and Jesus himself, and open the psalms. Psalms are a deep part of the life of Granite Springs, in our daily prayer, in the music we sing, and in our worship.
My friend didn’t ask me what I thought of his perceived prayerlessness. I’m not sure what I would have said right then. Now, with a week to consider, I’d point him to that ancient and timely prayer book of God’s people. I might suggest its prayers steer us away from cliché and easy answers, and guide us through grief and pain. Psalm prayer enables us to look reality in the face, and still trust. They steel our resolve to be wise and courageous. They offer us, in a time of pandemic, a way to pray that doesn’t depend on our ingenuity or emotional health or wisdom, but that simply follows the Holy Spirit inspired words we’ve already been given.
Kevin Adams, Senior Pastor
The following letter was emailed to subscribers to the Weekly on April 23, 2020. Please check the Granite Springs App or your email for any more recent updates. If you are not subscribed to the Weekly, you can do so here. You can download the App here.
April 23, 2020
We hope this finds you and those you love safe and healthy. As we honor the shelter in place order together as a congregation, I have been reflecting on four words that mark this time. The first word is “be safe.” We anticipate the day we can be together again—in whatever form that takes! Until then, take good care.
The second word is “thanks.” A huge thanks to the Granite Springs staff and volunteers who worked hard and selflessly to continue vibrant ministry. In a few days, we shifted our entire ministry online – an amazing feat, especially during the season of Easter.
Here’s a sample:
- Children’s ministry is online and Marrissa has been sharing Bible lessons on YouTube.
- Youth ministry has been holding Zoom calls and Kyu has been sharing encouragement.
- Worship ministry is online here.
- Daily prayer ministry is online here.
- If you have a special prayer request, share it here.
- Learn about two new groups studying the Lord’s Prayer as part of our Easter practices through our Deepening Practices mailing list.
- Start online giving here (a group that has doubled in size since Sheltering in Place began).
- Much of this can also be accessed easily through the Granite Springs App.
The list goes on and on. Volunteers are checking in with GS friends, getting groceries and medicine, and offering technology help. Thanks too for the many people sending in weekly and monthly checks to the church office, many with lovely and encouraging notes! Again, a huge THANK YOU to all who are serving in such tangible ways!
A third word is “pray.” The global pandemic feels like an unending, dizzying storm. At such a time we turn to the prayer book of Jesus and the church of all ages, the Psalms. With rascal-turned-monk Thomas Merton we remember, “We can never be more sure we are praying with the Holy Spirit than when we are praying the Psalms.” They give us words to say when it feels like there are no words to say. Personally, I’ve been praying Psalm 46 repeatedly. It has been much needed ballast to me in the ongoing chaos. Join others praying the Psalms during the morning prayer, or find musical versions in Aaron’s work, or simply pick up a Bible. (There’s also a book we at GS give away on the Psalms.)
That leads to the fourth and final word, “share.” We who know Christian community, who belong to each other and to our Savior, who live with hope, have so many gifts. So many of our neighbors don’t. As you walk through your neighborhood or chat online, offer a (silent) prayer or encouraging word. May God use this awful virus to draw people to him.
If there’s anything you need, any way the community can serve or help you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office (firstname.lastname@example.org) – there is a team ready to help you! Grace to you all as you navigate this unimagined season.
For the GS Staff and Elders,
Kevin Adams, Senior Pastor
The following letter was emailed to our mailing list on March 21, 2020. Please check the Granite Springs App or your email for any more recent updates. If you are not subscribed to the Weekly, you can do so here. You can download the App here.
March 21, 2020
Dear Granite Springs,
On Thursday afternoon, after we had sent The Weekly, the Placer County Medical Officer issued a directive that each of us engage in “Shelter in Place.” This directive began yesterday and is schedule to extend to April 10 (Good Friday).
To honor this directive, the Granite Springs facility will not be open until this directive is lifted, including being closed on Sunday mornings.
Please know that even with shut doors, we remain open as a community, seeking to live love and grace, even in these circumstances. I am taken by how many of you have volunteered to get groceries and medicine for people in our church family, and the contagious spirit of service that shows. I’m also taken by the way small group leaders are already reaching out to their groups. All of us are actively looking for creative ways to live the message of grace in the coming days. For ways to remain connected with Granite Springs, please see our previous letter in the Weekly, in the App or on the Granite Springs website.
Please join us for video worship tomorrow (video uploaded by 9am)—we think we’ve upped the quality considerably since last week, and you can look forward to all the typical worship pieces, including thoughtful prayer and music and kids involvement.
The Apostle Paul, who experienced many hardships personally, wrote, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” (II Timothy 1:7)
Grace and peace to you all,
Kevin Adams (for the GS elders and staff)
The following letter was emailed to our mailing list on March 18, 2020. Please check the Granite Springs App or your email for any more recent updates. If you are not subscribed to the Weekly, you can do so here. You can download the App here.
March 18, 2020
Dear Granite Springs Church,
Thankfully, our church is a place of grace and generosity, a community of people with overflowing love for God and one another. We seek to follow Jesus as servants. And now, in these very extraordinary times, we have an opportunity to serve. It is a time to share our time, skills, and resources with those inside and outside our church, at a time it really matters. In a time of fear and hoarding and suspicion, we invite you to serve and be served.
Many in our church family are in the “at risk” group likely to experience complications if they contract the COVID-19 virus. For that reason, in a spirit of service, we are asking for volunteers to deliver groceries, or pick up medications so such folks can stay in the safety of their homes. (All while those delivering goods honor the latest safety protocols).
If you need help with these things, please let us know. We want to be there for you. It can be hard to ask for help, but please let us help keep you safe. Reach out to our office coordinator, Amy Langle, at email@example.com (916 645-9620) if you need assistance from one of our volunteers, or if you would like to volunteer to serve those needing help. And, as always, feel free to call your GS Deacon for prayer or practical assistance.
Whether you are able to volunteer for this project or not, one way to practically show our faithfulness is continued generosity. Even in this season of adapted worship services and limited gathering times, we want to be good stewards of our church. During these unusual conditions, we entreat you to be faithful, just as you always have. We encourage you to continue to tithe and give generously. If you typically give in person, try our online portal; for those needing help to get set-up, here’s a helpful guide. Or you can simply send your check in the mail (our address is 1170 E. Joiner Pkwy, Lincoln CA 95648).
Thank you for being a part of Granite Springs! We pray you will stay healthy as we navigate this season and then return to the time we can meet together again.
Grace and peace to you all,
Stewardship Team Leader
Chair, GS Deacons
PS. Sign up for our app to get the latest GS news, including links to our Sunday Worship and daily live prayer times. You can also find this information on our website at granitesprings.org/service and granitesprings.org/dailyprayer. Keeping in line with safety protocols, our office will be active remotely.