Blog Index
  • Preparing for Worship: Into the Wilderness

    Getting off the treadmill of modern life for just a few moments can be like pulling the cork off a bottle of champagne as our deeply buried spiritual struggles can come violently to the surface.

    John Haralson   •   February 16, 2018
  • Preparing for Worship: This Sunday at Grace

    One of the things we say often is this: The kingdom of God grows when we introduce our friends to our friends.

    John Haralson   •   February 9, 2018
  • Lent & Fasting Part II

    It is very tempting to get too attached to this current life and the anxieties, pleasures, and distractions it has to offer. Fasting is a way to let go of these things that can hinder us or even steer us away from living out the true Christian story.

    John Haralson   •   February 5, 2018
  • Preparing for Worship: The Eyes of a Friend

    This Sunday, we have the privilege of having Joshua Tsavatewa, Children’s Ministry Coordinator at Sacred Road, preach God’s word to us. Joshua has been on staff with Sacred Road since 2010 and is a friend of many in our congregation.

    John Haralson   •   February 2, 2018
  • Preparing for Worship: The Parable of the Soils

    The word of God is like a seed that takes root and grows, yielding an amazing harvest of fruit. In the face of Satan’s relentless opposition and even our own unbelief, God ultimately triumphs through his grace.

    John Haralson   •   January 19, 2018
  • Preparing for Worship: Jesus, Women, and Men

    As we follow Jesus together, he intends to knit men and women together. Only as this happens, will we reflect before the world the image of our God.

    John Haralson   •   January 12, 2018
  • Preparing for Worship: When Love Comes to Town

    Jesus makes the point that God’s forgiveness for our sins can be equally hard to believe. God doesn’t really forgive sins, does he?

    John Haralson   •   January 5, 2018
  • Preparing for Worship: The Persistence and Insistence of God

    What if instead of a new job, a new companion, a new perspective, we can have a new heart from the Lord himself?

    Jason Davison   •   December 29, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: God in a Tent

    God reveals to David and to us that a life with him is not primarily about what we do for God. Instead, it is primarily about what God does for us.

    John Haralson   •   December 22, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Advent Living (Advent III)

    As we encounter Jesus' presence in our lives today, he gradually shapes us into people who joyfully look forward to the time when we will finally be with him face-to-face.

    John Haralson   •   December 15, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Behold Your God! (Advent II)

    Sometimes when we (correctly) expect judgment for all we have done and left undone, God surprises us with words of comfort and peace.

    Jason Davison   •   December 8, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Shall We Be Saved? (Advent I)

    Advent is a time to reflect upon all of the ways—past, present, and future— in which the Lord enters into our lives and our world.

    John Haralson   •   December 1, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Offended at Grace

    We too can find ourselves losing confidence in Him when He moves in a way we can't anticipate--when God's activity doesn't meet our expectations. 

    Jason Davison   •   November 17, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Money & The Church

    By [tithing], we are actually joining God in his work of blessing the church, so that through her ministry, the world may come to know God.

    John Haralson   •   November 10, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Money and our Hearts

    Money is a very significant aspect of following Jesus. And, for many of us, it’s one of the last dominoes to fall under the Lordship of Christ.

    John Haralson   •   November 3, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Giving Glory to God

    Like a Skagit Valley field filled to the brim with tulips, a life marked by obedience is a beautiful thing. It is also a work of the Lord.

    John Haralson   •   October 27, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: A Soldier's Faith

    The Bible likens Satan―God’s great enemy and ours as well―to a snake. One of the reasons why is that Satan is a master at hiding in plain sight.

    John Haralson   •   October 20, 2017
  • Preparing For Worship: Half Measures

    Jesus doesn’t conclude his first major sermon in Luke with a “feel good message”, but a cautionary parable to steer us away from ruin and towards His fortitude and integrity.

    Jason Davison   •   October 13, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: The Tree of Life

    Jesus wants us to do some serious introspection (perhaps with the help of others) and ask ourselves hard questions.

    John Haralson   •   October 6, 2017
  • Preparing For Worship: The Minister's Life

    In the kingdom of God, leadership is always sacrificial and carried out for the benefit of others. 

    John Haralson   •   September 29, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Judge Not

    The kingdom of God moves forward in the world by God’s people confessing their own sins.

    John Haralson   •   September 22, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: A New Day Has Dawned

    All throughout Scripture, we are commanded to begin living in new ways because God is at work.

    John Haralson   •   September 15, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Love Your Enemies

    Jesus is giving them, and us, a vision of what he wants our lives to look like... [and] Jesus says quite bluntly: Love your enemies.

    John Haralson   •   September 8, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Thirsty Souls

    This is a profound issue with which we all must wrestle: Does God truly and deeply love me?

    John Haralson   •   September 1, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Moment-by-Moment Trust

    Sitting in silence is the polar opposite of anxious scheming, plotting, and hoarding. It is a decidedly intentional ceasing of our relentless activity and at the same time a purposeful placing of ourselves in God’s hands.

    John Haralson   •   August 25, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Praying Our Anger

    A lack of any type of anger actually shows that we have grown cold and numb. Anger isn’t the opposite of love; indifference is.

    John Haralson   •   July 28, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Praying for Justice

    Jesus, who commands us to love our enemies, also pronounced curses upon the Pharisees, whom he judged to be enemies of God.

    John Haralson   •   July 21, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Desire & Discipleship

    Jesus tells us to direct those unfulfilled longings to him, trusting that he will meet them according to his wisdom and love.

    John Haralson   •   June 23, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Communion & Vocation

    As we cultivate lives of prayer and communion with God, we are, by faith, cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit. 

    John Haralson   •   June 16, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Wells, Not Fences

    The heart of the Christian life is drawing deeply from the well that is Jesus himself.

    John Haralson   •   June 9, 2017
  • Preparing For Worship: Eating & Drinking With Jesus

    In place of our flawed, tired, half-thought out efforts, Jesus gives us himself. He is the only one that can set us free from sin.

    John Haralson   •   June 2, 2017
  • "Contours: Blind and Otherwise" - Life as Your Artist-in-Residence

    It's nice to think about how blind contours are a metaphor for living life - trying to really see something, to know something, and trusting that by gazing upon that thing, you may know something of it's truth.

    Allyson Darakjian   •   May 31, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: The Feast of the Repentant

    Self-righteousness is like a warm blanket we wrap around ourselves to protect us from the chilling reality of self-discovery. It’s also exhausting. 

    John Haralson   •   May 27, 2017
  • Worship & Authenticity

    Congregational worship that is full, honest and participatory inevitably requires that a congregation embrace tensions in worship.

    Matt Johnson & John Haralson   •   May 25, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Rise & Walk

    One of the things that sin can do is immobilize us. It can prevent us from joyfully communing with God, with the result that our days are filled with a spiritual vacancy and lethargy.

    John Haralson   •   May 19, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: I Will. Be Clean.

    Like leprosy, sin is a parasitic condition. Far from being merely “breaking the rules”, sin is something that eats away at us.

    John Haralson   •   May 12, 2017
  • Why We Sing The Songs We Sing

    Whether you consider yourself a musician or not, singing corporately is a powerful method of spiritual formation that can lead to a deeper understanding of the gospel and how it relates to our lives.

    Jess Alldredge   •   May 10, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Fishing for People

    Jesus invites us into his life-changing work of forming and shaping men, women, and children into his disciples.

    John Haralson   •   May 5, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: One Service (9am) This Sunday!

    We will only be having one worship service at Grace on Sunday (at 9am).

    John Haralson   •   April 29, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: The Body Needs the Body

    The writer of Hebrews urges us to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works”. That applies to congregations as well as individual Christians.

    John Haralson   •   April 21, 2017
  • Easter and Slow Growth

    Keep giving yourself to the Lord and trust that, over time, he will slowly and, at times, imperceptibly, continue to grow his new life in you and through you. 

    John Haralson   •   April 19, 2017
  • Preparing For Worship: Holy Week Worship

    As Paul points out in I Corinthians 15:1-8, the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus really form the core of the good news of the gospel.

    John Haralson   •   April 14, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Liberating Jesus

    Jesus always resists our efforts to control him. He is always lifting our eyes upward to the horizon and giving us a larger view of the world, one where he is powerfully and lovingly at the center. 

    John Haralson   •   March 31, 2017
  • Lent & Fasting

    Fasting is a very practical discipline through which we can create space for and cultivate dependence upon God.

    John Haralson   •   March 29, 2017
  • Call for Submissions! Easter Vigil Art Show: April 15th, 2017 – Grace Gallery
    Jess Alldredge   •   March 28, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Dealing with Demons

    What would you think about someone who said that Jesus came to do battle with Satan and his demons? Be honest. 

    John Haralson   •   March 24, 2017
  • Lent & Desire

    This is the invitation of Lent. Slow down and allow yourself to feel how thirsty you are for the cool waters of grace and compassion.

    Debbie Smith   •   March 22, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Saved to Serve

    God liberates us to become people who love him and (very concretely) love others around us.

    John Haralson   •   March 17, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Be Silent, Come Out of Him!

    I hope the Lord uses this text to open our eyes to how he sets us free from evil powers that enslave us and seek to destroy us. Jesus really is powerful, and he really sets us free.

    John Haralson   •   March 10, 2017
  • Praying The Daily Office

    It’s called the Daily Office because prayer is work. It requires commitment and discipline. It means praying even when you don’t feel like it.

    John Haralson   •   March 9, 2017
  • Songs for Reflection: Lent 2017
    Jess Alldredge   •   March 7, 2017
  • The Prayer of Examen

    Praying the Examen on a regular basis can help you become more aware of God’s presence in your daily life and become more aware of what is going on inside your own heart. 

    John Haralson   •   March 1, 2017
  • Preparing For Worship: How Big Is God's Love?

    In other words, Jesus told them that God’s love was so vast that it extended to their enemies. And they hated to hear this. This was not good news to them. It filled them with rage. What about you?

    John Haralson   •   February 24, 2017
  • The Importance of Spiritual Practices

    Our spiritual lives are a combination of energy and form. We need both energy and form in order to grow in a relationship with God. Form without energy is lifeless formalism, just going through the religious motions. But, energy without form is unnecessarily difficult and, perhaps, even dangerous.

    John Haralson   •   February 23, 2017
  • Preparing For Worship: Jesus vs. Satan

    Jesus triumphs where all others have failed. He, and he alone, has defeated Satan. All who belong to Jesus can now share in his victory.

    John Haralson   •   February 17, 2017
  • Preparing For Worship: Healing Our Family Tree

    Jesus became fully human. This means, among other things, that he has fully joined himself to the sometimes glorious but often shameful history of all human families the earth has ever known.

    John Haralson   •   February 10, 2017
  • Preparing For Worship: When Love Comes To Town

    John is powerfully telling God’s church-going people that they need to start over. 

    John Haralson   •   February 3, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: I Must Be In My Father's House

    For his own reasons, God allowed significant parts of my being and actions to remain as they were for so many years. And, even though I now wish God would have acted sooner, the reality is that he did not. This is one of the mysteries of God’s grace: God works on his own timetable.

    John Haralson   •   January 27, 2017
  • Preparing For Worship: God's Reward

    From the very beginning, God unashamedly promises to reward those who seek him. And, his people unashamedly believe that he will, in fact, come through on his promise to reward them.

    John Haralson   •   January 13, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Welcoming Pastor Anderson to Grace

    This Sunday, we have the great privilege of welcoming the Rev. Dr. Carey Anderson to preach God’s word to us. Pastor Anderson is the Senior Minister of First AME Church, Seattle.

    John Haralson   •   January 6, 2017
  • Preparing for Worship: Baptisms, Member Joining, Children's First Communion

    We are flawed and broken, and trying to stumble forward together as we follow him. Yet, in his grace and through the power of his Spirit, Jesus is at work, drawing us to himself.

    John Haralson   •   December 16, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: The Desert Shall Rejoice

    God’s people are people who are empowered, by God’s grace, to tell the hard truth about ourselves. We can begin to narrate our own sins and confess them to God and others.

    John Haralson   •   December 9, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Wrath & Peace

    Because of the work of Jesus on our behalf, the anger of God has become a healing force for us and the world. Through the work of Christ, God’s anger is not only pure, but it is also restorative. God’s anger leads to a peace beyond our imagination.

    John Haralson   •   December 2, 2016
  • Advent Art: Guideposts in the Wilderness

    In this season of Advent, when we again renew our search for the source of our hope and joy, we need guideposts to usher us forward. We wait with great anticipation, not passively but with footsteps faithfully taken toward each guidepost, one after the other.

    Allyson Darakjian   •   December 1, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Walking in the Light of the Lord

    God desires for us to walk in his ways of peace, and shows us the way to peace requires us to draw near to him. So, don’t give into the temptation towards self-protective cynicism or mindless holiday distraction. This Advent season, let us come to the Lord and ask him to show us the way. 

    John Haralson   •   November 25, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Treasuring God's Word

    God’s word is a wonderful gift to us. We would be wise to treasure it and make a regular place for it in our lives.

    John Haralson   •   November 18, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Jesus or Caesar?

    In our church there are minorities wondering if they're wanted and people who voted for Trump wondering if everyone assumes they're racist. Give grace. ―Brian McCormack

    John Haralson   •   November 11, 2016
  • Talking to Children about Politics

    How do we talk to children about the election and current political landscape?

    Heidi Hansen   •   November 9, 2016
  • Trump is President, Now What?

    Today, we all woke up to a new world. To most people in our congregation, the future seems much darker and dystopian than it did last week. To some, however, this new world brings welcome change. The nation is divided and people are angry and scared. I am writing this in an attempt to shepherd the people in our congregation through this precarious time of transition in our country.

    John Haralson   •   November 9, 2016
  • Cultivating Gratitude with Children

    Here are a few ways to encourage gratitude in children and as a family. 

    Heidi Hansen   •   November 9, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Lord of the Feast

    “The Kingdom of God grows when we introduce our friends to our friends .”

    ―Bill Boyd

    John Haralson   •   November 4, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Desolation & Consolation

    I love the quote at the top because it summarizes how many of us can feel about our lives: we all have the distinct sense that something has been taken from us

    John Haralson   •   October 28, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Surrendering to Grace

    You know, there are some things that I used to strongly believe that I no longer strongly believe. And, there are other things that I used to not really strongly believe to which I now cling. 

    John Haralson   •   October 21, 2016
  • ** UPDATE: Power is on! Sunday Oct. 16th Possible Schedule Change Pending Storm

    The church building has power and the schedule will run as normal. 

    Grace Church Seattle   •   October 14, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Just as He Said

    Mary’s song has, unfortunately, often been domesticated in the Christian tradition as a sweet Christmas lullaby. Yet, a closer look at the song reveals that this is more of a triumphant anthem than a song that lulls us to sleep. 

    John Haralson   •   October 14, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Bearing Christ into the World

    This means that no matter where you go, if you are a Christian, you take Christ with you. I love the way Rembrandt paints a small dog at Elizabeth’s feet. This is a scene from a very ordinary part of life. To bear Jesus into the world means that we bear him into the world even in our ordinary moments―at work, doing the dishes, going to school, or hanging out with friends. 

    John Haralson   •   October 7, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Mary--Filled with Christ

    In the Eastern Orthodox church, there is a long history of looking up to Mary as the Theotokos, or bearer of God. There is a very real sense in which every Christian is a Theotokos, a bearer of Christ. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ not only dwells among us, but he dwells within us. It is with this reality in mind that Paul said the great mystery of the gospel is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” 

    John Haralson   •   September 30, 2016
  • Zechariah―Wounded by God

    Buddy Christ is an alluring―and, quite frankly, a very Americancreation because its Jesus is so easy going. He’s always positive and upbeat and would never do anything disruptive like challenge you or disagree with you. The problem with Buddy Christ, of course, is that he is a distortion of the real Jesus.

    John Haralson   •   September 15, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: New Sermon Series and Fall Schedule Resumes

    We all know the feeling of not being certain we are on the right path. Whether you’re lost while driving around downtown, or second-guessing a job you took, a relationship you find yourself in the middle of, or what you ordered for lunch, you know the sensation of having the sinking feeling that you might have made a mistake.  Being a disciple of Jesus is no different.  

    John Haralson   •   September 8, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Surrendering to Mercy

    One of the telling things about the Marlboro Man is that he was, more often than not, alone. He was not a communal figure. Sure, he had cowboy colleagues; but they always appeared to be more like acquaintances than friends. At the end of the day, he was alone in the world. And, you get the sense that he wanted it that way. 

    John Haralson   •   September 1, 2016
  • Preparing For Worship: Living Connected In A Disconnected World

    God has created us for deep and meaningful connection. Some of us have tasted this connection with God and others and know the almost indescribable resonance that happens in our souls when we make deep and abiding contact with another. Many, if not most of us, however, know the ache and destruction which occurs in our lives when these connections do not occur or are shattered. 

    John Haralson   •   August 26, 2016
  • Preparing For Worship: Sacred Road Team Report & Micah 6 & 7

    I get a little squeamish when I read parts of the Bible that talk about God’s desire for his people to care for the vulnerable. And, to be honest, there are many, many places in Scripture where God invites, commands, and encourages his people to care for the poor and weak.

    John Haralson   •   August 19, 2016
  • 5 Reasons to Serve in Your Church's Children's Ministry

    Children matter to God. Everyone in a church community matters and working directly with the youngest and most vulnerable members is an act of faithfulness and of sharing in God's heart.

    Heidi Hansen   •   August 11, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Psalm 56

    We are all mildly horrified at the prospect of looking silly to our co-workers, to our peers, or to the people we are closest to. So, we work hard to stay on top of things in an attempt to keep our fears at bay.

    John Haralson   •   August 11, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Tree People (Psalm 52

    Though I enjoy writing liturgy, the reality is our congregation needs to be formed and shaped by many voices, not just mine. By having someone else write some of our worship liturgies, the congregation will be blessed and shaped by someone else’s gifts, perspectives, and emphases. This is a good thing. So it is with preaching.

    John Haralson   •   July 7, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Wild God (9am only this week!)

    A lot of times, we Christians can (rightfully) lament the evil in the world and cry out to God to do something about it. We want him to come and make what is crooked straight. This is crying out for God to “judge”. In the biblical story, to judge means not just to render a decision about something. It means to repair and restore a person, a situation, or a people. Biblical judging always includes restorative action.

    John Haralson   •   July 1, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: The Allure and Menace of Riches (Psalm 49)

    We are also a culture deeply marked by anxiety. We are profoundly worried about money, our futures, our jobs, our kids, the survival of our planet, and about who will win November’s Presidential election. And, no amount of money can seem to make our unease subside. 

    John Haralson   •   June 24, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Psalm 48 & Spiritual Warfare

    God has given us this rich variety of prayers and songs to help us faithfully and authentically engage with him across the spectrum of our life circumstances. The Psalms help us truthfully name the various situations we find ourselves in so that we can experience God whether or not we’re having a good day, a heart-breaking day, or an incredibly average day.

    John Haralson   •   June 9, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Psalm 47

    To be a Christian means to be united with God. Theologians often speak of “union with Christ” or use the New Testament language of being with or in Christ. The idea is that he graciously and lovingly shares the fulness of his life with his people.

    John Haralson   •   June 3, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Psalm 46 (9 AM only this Sunday!)

    In the Psalm, nothing is calm and serene. Life as the Psalmist knows it is falling apart. There are natural disasters (“the mountains fall into the heart of the sea”) and God’s enemies are seeking to destroy God’s people (“the nations rage”). Everything the Psalmist holds dear is at risk of collapsing or being swallowed up.

    John Haralson   •   May 27, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Rejoicing in Suffering

    This may sound like a bold or possibly naive statement by Paul. But, if you know anything about his life, you understand that it was filled with intense suffering and difficulty. In one of his letters to a congregation like ours, Paul said that he and his friends were once at a point where they “were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.”

    John Haralson   •   May 20, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Songs from Prison

    It is difficult to describe the depth and power of that experience. Here was a church that was reeling from yet another form of racist violence carried out against African Americans. To make it even more egregious, the murders happened at church―a place that historically has been a place of safety and refuge for Black Christians.

    John Haralson   •   May 6, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Lydia: The Man from Macedonia

    Yet, what is even more important is that God was seeking Lydia. Through a very circuitous and perplexing route, God sends Paul and his friends to find Lydia and tell her the good news of the gospel. Though their path no doubt seemed strange to them, God was steadily and sovereignly bringing them to Lydia’s doorstep.

    John Haralson   •   April 28, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Agents of God's Hospitality

    This parable and Rembrandt’s masterpiece have a lot to teach us. They tell us that God is currently throwing a feast for all who turn to him. Through Jesus Christ, God fully welcomes all who come to him. God is doing a lot of celebrating and welcoming on a daily basis.

    John Haralson   •   April 22, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Seeing Tabitha

    To be a Christian means to offer up our lives to God in the present, and continue to follow his guidance regardless of where he leads us. Sometimes that path is clear and makes sense to us. At times, however, the way forward is murky and it can seem like the Lord is leading us to a dead end.

    John Haralson   •   April 15, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: My Lord and My God!

    Before encountering the resurrected Jesus, Thomas told the other disciples that he absolutely refused to believe unless he was able to touch the wounds on Jesus’ hands and side. He wanted to make sure that the “Jesus” people were interacting with after the first Easter Sunday was the same one that got crucified just over a week before. He wasn’t going to risk it all again until he saw Jesus with his own eyes.

    John Haralson   •   March 31, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Holy Week at Grace

    This side of Easter, Jesus invites us into this work and into a renewed relationship with God. Yet, it is a journey and a tasking that is filled with mystery. On this path, we cannot control or manage Jesus. We cannot stipulate to him the terms of our discipleship. We cannot tell him where we are willing or unwilling to go.

    John Haralson   •   March 25, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: Betrayed with a Kiss
    John Haralson   •   March 18, 2016
  • Preparing for Worship: The Sabbath & the Future (9am service only!)
    John Haralson   •   March 4, 2016
  • Saying No to Fundamentalism

    When Christians live like this, when we go beyond what God has spoken to us in his word, the Apostle Paul characterizes such a life as being weak in faith. This is counter-intuitive, because Christians who live very tightly circumscribed lives out of a desire to honor the Lord are often thought to possess strong faith. However, Paul wants us to see that such a life is not one that is being lived out of a robust, personal, trusting relationship with God.

    John Haralson   •   February 26, 2016