Grace Notes: 7 Letters to 7 Churches

Written By: Keli Miller

In the End // Week 2

This week we dove into 3 of the 7 letters written to churches in Revelation. These were real churches, with real people, and real problems. Each of these letters closes with the same line, “to anyone who has ears to hear, listen to what the Spirit says…”. We have a God who not only sees our struggle but calls to us in it.  Whatever season you find yourself in there is something to be heard from each of these letters.

The Church of Smyrna

“I know your affliction and poverty, but you are rich.”

The church of Smyrna was excluded and persecuted. Their letter, while encouraging, speaks of more pain and affliction to come. Their suffering is nowhere near over, but God meets them here in their season of deferred hope. I am thankful for Smyrna and their faith. Though they did not know it then, they were planting seeds of faith that would impact generations. His message is the same to all in pain and suffering: I see you, I am near, keep going. Our call amidst suffering is to hold tightly to hope. It’s seasons like this we need to pray His promises over our lives, again and again, I bet the church of Smyrna re-read their letter more than any other church. The church of Smyrna’s challenge was their very real suffering and they needed to hold to hope.

The Church of Thyatira

“I know your works- your love and faithfulness, but I have this against you: You tolerate the woman Jezebel.”

Thyatira, a networking city, was full of wealth and success. The church was most certainly on the outside, but they wanted to be in. So decision by decision they began to compromise. God says, “I see you, you are doing better than you were. But….”  I imagine Thyatira did a lot of justifying. Their nights were filled with compromise and mornings filled with guilt. God desired more for His people then and He desires more for us now. God’s plans for us are always greater than our own. We must not trade our inheritance for momentary desires. Thyatira’s challenge was compromise and they needed to surrender their desires.

The Church of Laodicea

“I know your works that you are neither hot nor cold….”

The church of Laodicea was probably a lot like the church of the West- highly accepted and successful. The church of Laodicea’s problem was their own lack of need. They were self-sufficient and boiled their relationship with God down to a Sunday appearance. They missed what our God desires most- relationship. God wanted to be invited into every room of their heart. God was standing at the door knocking and no one was answering. Comfort does this to us, it makes us think that we have control and don’t need God. The challenge of Laodicea was their comfort and they needed to stop and listen to God’s voice, making room for Him.

“To all who have ears to hear let them listen…”

This is a message of forgetfulness. How often in seasons of waiting have you wondered if God has forgotten you? How often have we forgotten God when life is easy?  God’s message to each of these churches is the same, remember me, remember what I have spoken. Our first job is to stop and listen. He will fill in the gaps it’s our job to make  space for Him. No matter what “church” you find yourself in today this is the message that God has for you. He is near, He is speaking, and He is enough.

In the Word

Psalm 33:20-22, Hebrews 10:32-39, Revelation 2-3

On the journey inward

Which of the churches do you relate with the most in your current season of life?

What has God been speaking to you in this season?

Where have you forgotten God or feel as if he’s forgotten you?

Christ House Justice Partnership

Written by Amy Feeser

Here at Grace Capital City, we hold justice as a core value that we desire to live out as disciples of Christ. We believe that when others encounter the justice heart of Jesus, we will see the movement of God’s kingdom on earth. In God’s kingdom we see the unconventional become reality: the last shall be first, those without power are seen and elevated, and healing is offered to all. To us, this is part of what justice looks like. In the Fall of 2017, we began to partner with a local organization, Christ House, to seek transformation and justice in our city.

As a ministry present in D.C. for over 30 years, the mission of Christ House is to provide comprehensive and compassionate health care to sick, homeless persons in the District of Columbia, and to assist them in addressing critical issues to help break the cycle of homelessness. Our nation’s capital has one of the highest homeless populations of any major U.S. city, with 124 individuals homeless for every 10,000 residents.

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Homelessness is caused by a messy array of issues: unaffordable housing, unemployment, mental health issues, addiction, and relational conflict to name a few. Christ House seeks to meet people’s immediate needs and provide them with opportunities to improve their life in a lasting way. If you want to witness transformation in Washington, DC, Christ House offers a glimpse of the Kingdom’s redemption.

As followers of Jesus, what is the appropriate response to homelessness? I am drawn to the end of Matthew 25 where we hear Jesus speak of sitting on the throne of judgment and separating the sheep from the goats: the righteous from the unrighteous. To the righteous he states, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ When asked where they saw him, he shares, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Then to the unrighteous, he condemns those who failed to care for the least of these, noting that they failed to care for Christ.

As a practical means of blessing our neighbors, GCC held an Advent Drive in December of 2017 and collected over 140 Christmas gifts of clothing and towels for member’s of Christ House’s Kairos Program, which provides long term housing and discipleship for their patients. As Christians we will never truly see and love Jesus unless we learn to see and love the ‘least of these’.

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At Christ House each individual that enters the door is seen, known, and cared for with the utmost compassion and dignity. To be homeless and living on the streets is to be dehumanized and denied one’s basic needs, but the gift of Jesus offers us the opportunity to reconnect to our shared humanity. My personal time volunteering at Christ House has included a variety of activities ranging from serving meals to painting Easter eggs. Each time that I visit, I am gifted by the deep well of joy that staff and patients display.

In front of Christ House’s building you can see a statue of a kneeling Jesus in the sitting area where the patients often spend time. When I walk by I am humbly reminded: Jesus sees everyone. Let us pray for the church to share Christ’s vision, and let us commit to seeking justice for vulnerable, resilient communities as we engage God’s kingdom.

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If you desire to interact with the hope of God’s kingdom, join us to serve dinner at Christ House and receive their monthly newsletter! As a justice partner of Grace Capital City, we have the privilege of serving dinner there every second Friday of the month from 4pm-7pm. Contact ali@gfc.tv to sign up.

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Talking with Francis

Francis Mwali Member Profile

Hi Francis, how did you hear about Grace Capital City?

Funny thing is I heard about you through Facebook actually. It just popped up on my window. And I thought, “Cool, I don't do anything at 5:00, I'll go check them out.” I loved it. I fell in love with everything. I fell in love with the worship. God's presence is here.

What do you think is one distinguishable characteristic of our church?

Community. It's big on community. I believe, as young people, we search for that a lot and we're looking for a place to belong. Grace has offered that to a lot people and that's why people come through the doors. That's the biggest thing that attracted me to Grace and that's the thing I love the most about Grace. It's community. And Jesus is the center of that community.

What's one distinguishable characteristic about you?

I don't know man. I live and breathe music, that's what I do. I love music. That's it, if you meet me and we're talking, somewhere I will slide music into the conversation. I don't know how but it just happens that way. That's the thing about me.

What would you say is the good news of Jesus to people in DC?

I think right now people are just looking for hope. I feel like the fear of uncertainty has crippled the nation. I was driving down DC the day after the elections and it was like a ghost town and you could feel the fear. You could feel it. But I want people to remind themselves everyday when they wake up that they are and always will be children of the most high, no matter who sits on the presidential seat and no matter what is going on in the country. They're still going to be children of the most high. Never forget that fact. It will carry you through to the next day. The next year. No matter what is happening, God is still on the throne. It is God who orchestrates everything.

What has the Lord been teaching you recently?

More than anything, he's been teaching me to trust solely on Him. Everything that I do now is on Him. I've never been so free. I've never trusted the Lord this much. I quit my job and put it all in His hands. With everything that I do from hear on out, I trust that God has it. It's built my faith and it's growing on a daily basis. I've seen things and I'm learning more about myself than I ever have. I thought I was one person, and it takes you putting everything into God's hands to realize who you really are.

What is your catchphrase?

Do I have one?

Yeah don't you always say, “what's up hotdog?”

No but maybe I should adopt that. I think I say gracias a lot. I don't know why. It's not a catchphrase but I just say that a lot. I just like it.

Gracias Francis!

Talking With Frank

FRANK KRECH MEMBER PROFILE

Hey Frank. What brought you to DC?

I think it all started probably a year before Chris and Jess moved up. They had actually had a video at Grace Midtown showing the church and the announcement. Me and Sarah had just started dating, we were in separate parts as a part of the hospitality team at Grace Midtown. We were both watching the video and at the same time both of our hearts got tugged. We felt the calling of God and felt like this was an awesome opportunity. I’ve always wanted to be part of a church plant and making a difference for the city. So at the end of that we both met with each other and said, “Did you feel the same way I did?” I was like yeah, we definitely gotta go to this. So we both prayed about it for quite a while and met with Chris at the open house event for the community. It just felt right, everything about it. Some opportunities even got presented to me in terms of my career, in terms of Sarah’s career, her family is up here. It just seemed like God was making it really clear where He wanted me to be. So hospitality is a huge part of my life and Sarah’s life, and we try to find every way we can to be a part of this church and give to it as much as we can.

 

How was that experience moving up?

 

Oh dude it was so scary. My entire family has lived in Georgia. They never really travel outside that part of the country, so it was scary for me. For Sarah, not so much. She has gone back and forth between Maryland and Georgia countless times, so this was nothing to her. It was a big step for me. My family wasn’t on board with it at first, but over time praying with them turned into them saying this is something God wants you to do so go for it. I think it just put a lot of peace in my heart. Even going up here rooming with you guys for the few months we were together, it was just comfortable. It felt like Jesus was there the whole step of the way. There were no obstacles or barriers that made it seem like we need to go back.

 

What would be your biggest encouragement to someone that wants to take a risk like that but feels nervous about it?

 

I’d say listen to your gut. Listen to your heart. If you try to go at it logistically and you try to plan everything out you’re going to fall flat on your face. You’re going to become terrified and you’re not going to make the decision. It requires a lot of faith. That’s the brunt of it. The clear, defining decision factor should be your faith. Not in, well I have enough money. Not in, well I have a place to live. I think God will put that all together as you take a step forward. That’s what faith is, you take a blind step. God will put the next rung in the ladder and the next tread on the stair for you.

 

What has been one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned being up here?

 

Don’t feel like you have to get involved with everything right at the get go. I know that one of the things I was trying to do was do as much as I could and I got burnt out really fast. So take baby steps. Start with what you’re comfortable with and then look at places where you can branch out and feel kinda scared. God will make it pretty clear to you what you’re terrified of and what you need to push towards. Don’t try to be a superhuman.

 

What’s a perfect day in the city? What do you love to do here?

 

I like to put a smile on someone’s face. It may not have to be a joke. I like to make people laugh, but it may just be giving a portion of myself to them, which could be giving something to someone who’s homeless or just getting my job done right. I like designing something in my workplace and giving it to my boss or my manager and making them happy with that. That’s my responsibility. I’m an engineer and I gotta engineer.

 

What do you want people to know about God?

 

He’s not the kind of God who requires you to have your ducks in row. He doesn’t require you to have everything figured out before you come to Him. That’s a huge part of my maturity and growing up in my faith. I grew up believing you need to be right with God at all times. You have to get all your sins forgiven before you can start praying to Him again. That’s how ridiculous it got. Once I started going to a public college and getting out of that isolated sphere, I started to see that in order for people to get an appeal for God, to get a taste of God, you have to be real and honest. You have to realize you’re going to fall on your face sometimes and you just gotta brush yourself off and pick yourself back up. God knows you for who you’re ultimately going to become, which is that sanctification process, and its beautiful. We don’t start at the end, we start at the beginning, but God sees us at the end the entire time. So He doesn’t care if you’ve stumbled off the path a couple times, He knows that as long as you’re trusting in Him and following Him you’re going to get there. That’s it. There’s nothing more to that. There doesn’t need to be some deep theological explanation for it. It’s very simple. God said that kids are the ones that would enter the kingdom first because they had a childlike faith. It doesn’t require you to understand everything about Him.

 

What’s your catchphrase?

 

“So Krech and so clean.” No brainer.

 

Perfect interview. Thanks Frank.