Grace Church Connections

Grace Church Connections

Relationship, not Religion.

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Way of Love

August 21, 2019

Our Fall sermon series, “The Way of Love”, grows from the newly presented ancient idea of developing a rule of life. The ground of the way of love is Jesus – incarnate, crucified, risen – enabling us to walk with God in a new and profound way.

The mission of Grace Church is connecting people to Christ, self, and others. If you accept our mission as what we should do, the way of love is how we do it.

I invite and encourage you to enter the way of love in worship and in Story Groups this Fall. Click the title below to watch Bishop Curry’s video on the Way of Love.

An Invitation from Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry to Practice the Way of Love

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19

In the first century Jesus of Nazareth inspired a movement. A community of people whose lives were centered on Jesus Christ and committed to living the way of God’s unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial, and redemptive love. Before they were called “church” or “Christian,” this Jesus Movement was simply called “the way.”

Today I believe our vocation is to live as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. But how can we together grow more deeply with Jesus Christ at the center of our lives, so we can bear witness to his way of love in and for the world?

The deep roots of our Christian tradition may offer just such a path. For centuries, monastic communities have shaped their lives around rhythms and disciplines for following Jesus together. Such a pattern is known as a “Rule of Life.” The framework you now hold – The Way of Love: Practices for Jesus-Centered Life – outlines a Rule for the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.

It is designed to be spare and spacious, so that individuals, ministry groups, congregations, and networks can flesh it out in unique ways and build a church-wide treasure trove of stories and resources. There is no specific order you need to follow. If you already keep a Rule or spiritual disciplines, you might reflect and discover how that path intersects with this one. By entering into reflection, discernment and commitment around the practices of Turn – Learn – Pray – Worship – Bless – Go – Rest, I pray we will grow as communities following the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus. His way has the power to change each of our lives and to change this world.

Your brother in the Way of Jesus,

The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, Primate and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

FAQ’s for Grace Renewal Project (sabbatical)

February 28, 2019

What is a Sabbatical?

  • It is an extended time away from all parish duties to renew, reconnect, and refresh.
  • It is very common for priests to have a sabbatical after having served at least 7 years in ordained ministry and having served at least 5 years in the congregation granting the sabbatical.
  • In granting a sabbatical, the congregation is insisting that their priest, stop, rest & keep the Sabbath holy.
  • The Diocese of West Texas clergy, who have gone on sabbatical, consistently report that not only did they come back healthier and stronger, but they found their congregations that way, too.
  • Instead of calling it a sabbatical, we want to focus on it being called “Renewal Support”.
  • These 4R’s are not for Jay only, but for Grace Church too.

History of sabbatical

  • Rest, renewal, and reconnection are essential parts of our lives. Their importance is modeled by God in the creation story when He took the seventh day to rest. This importance was later emphasized in its inclusion within the Ten Commandments: remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. The tradition of setting the Sabbath apart and having a day set aside from being productive is at odds with our culture, and is largely ignored. The true cost of doing so is not that God has been robbed of some worship He is owed, but rather a pervasive and growing sense of exhaustion and disconnection as our own essential needs are left unmet.
  • Priests and several other professions do not take Sundays off, and because of the 24-7 nature of their roles, their job concerns intrude and chip into any day during the week that they set aside.
  • The practice of the sabbatical evolved in the 1800’s inspired by a passage in Leviticus 25 – in short, every seventh year, the field you are farming gets a full year off – the basics of crop rotation. This extended period of being at rest from work is extended most often to college professors and to priests to help make up for the Sabbath time they miss out in their daily lives. It is no coincidence that the Diocese wishes its priests to go on Sabbatical and take this time of renewal every seven years. Its purpose is not to reward clergy but to take care of their essential needs.

How will the church pay for the sabbatical?

  • Currently, the sabbatical committee is in the process of applying for an endowment grant to assist with paying for the sabbatical.
  • Is there a commitment that Jay will stay with Grace for a period of time post sabbatical? Yes, Jay and Jamie are committed to Grace Church.  A requirement of the Lilly Grant is that the priest agrees to continue his service and ministry at the church.

Is it a vacation?

  • NO, this is not a vacation. THIS IS A GIFT!  This is time for many things to occur involving the 4Rs.  It is also to prevent burn out and promote healthy physical and mental lifestyles.
  • Reconnect: For Jay, Jamie and the George family to reconnect with each other as a whole family.  Time for Jay to reconnect with God on a personal basis.
  • Rest: To quiet his mind of daily pastoral concerns and disconnect from the outside world.
  • Renewal: To renew his ministry, renew his relationship with God
  • Refresh/Revitalize: To grow in his spiritual journey

Are there any expectations?

  • Grace Church has expectations of Jay and Jay has expectations of Grace Church during the sabbatical time.

Will I be able to contact Jay?

  • This is time for Jay to rest and reconnect with himself and with God for his ministry and for his spiritual journey. There will be a team to contact if an emergency arises.

Who will be leading church services?

  • The sabbatical committee is working with Jay on supplying coverage for church services during his time away on sabbatical.

Who will make final church decisions when Jay is on sabbatical?

  • The church will look to the vestry committee, senior and junior wardens, and various ministry leaders to make church decisions that may arise.

How and who will complete church duties?

  • All of us!
  • This sabbatical is not only a gift to Jay, but to Grace Church as well. This will allow leaders of Grace Church to rise up to handle jobs that Jay no longer needs to be concerned with on a daily/weekly basis.  Parishioners will take on more responsibility for the life and ministries of the church and are reminded that everything does not require the priest to be present.

What does this mean for Grace Church?

  • This is a chance for Grace Church to grow and become stronger with members of the church stepping up to complete tasks and giving back to God through the work.
  • New leaders will emerge.
  • Rely on each other to complete tasks in the church instead of relying on Jay after his return to Grace, post sabbatical.
  • Again….we GROW and become STRONGER!

Sabbatical length of Time?

  • 4 months (Spring/Summer 2020)

In the Beginning

April 26, 2018

In the beginning, God created the church plant. The church plant was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the city. And the Spirit of God was hovering over Northwest San Antonio.

And God said, “let there be a new church,” and there was a new church. And God saw that the new church was good. And God separated the new church from the other churches. God called the new church Grace, and the other churches he called traditional. And there were evenings and there were mornings, the first year.

And God said, “let there be a new vision for the new church, and let it be different from the other churches. And God gave the new vision and separated the new church from the traditional churches. And it was so. And God called the new vision Relationship, not religion. And there were evenings and there were mornings, the second year.

And God said, “let the people under the heavens be gathered together in the chapel at TMI, and let the worship appear.” And it was so. God called the the worship “Fusion”, and the people that were gathered together he called Gracers. And God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let the Gracers sprout service, service to each other, and service to the community, each according to its kind, from the Gracers. And it was so. The Gracers brought forth service on Sunday Teams and at GraceLand, and service with mission partners at Monroe May Elementary and Taking it to the Streets. And God saw that it was good. And there were evenings and there were mornings, the third year.

And God said, “let there be metrics in the strategy of Grace Church to separate Grace Church from the traditional churches. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for worship and connection, and let the metrics be lights in the strategy of Grace to shed light upon their strategy.” And it was so. And God made the two great metrics — # of visitors to rule evangelism and % of return visitors to measure connection — and follow up. And God set the metrics over the strategy of Grace Church to give light to the strategy, to rule over the evangelism and the connection, and to separate Grace Church from the traditional churches. And God saw that it was good. And there were evenings and there were mornings, the fifth year.

And God said, “let the people swarm with swarms of living creatures, and  let Story Groups fly above the Gracers and across the strategy of Grace Church.” So God created the Story Groups and every living creature that joins them, with which the Story Groups swarm, according to their kinds, and every group leader according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed the Story Groups, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the Story Groups with people, and let Story Groups multiply upon the earth.” And there were evenings and there were mornings, the seventh day.

And God said, “let the Gracers bring forth living creatures according their their kinds — family members and creeping babies and friends of the Gracers according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God brought the friends of the Gracers according to their kinds and the family members according to their kinds, and ever baby that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “let us make Grace Church a parish,  after our likeness. And let Grace Church have influence over the de-churched people and over the un-churched people and over the should-have-been churched people and the need-to-be-churched people and over all of the people I will bring to them.”

So God made Grace Church a parish in his image,

In the image of God he created Grace;

Male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the chapel at TMI and subdue it, and have influence over the churched and the un-churched and the de-churched and over all of the people I bring you. And God said, “Behold, I have given you vision and mission and fusion worship. I have given you a place to worship and a place to gather. I have given you leaders for your teams, and staff members, and a vestry. I have given you servers, and grushers, altar guild and set up, an a/v team and a music team. I have given you a nursery and a children’s ministry and a youth ministry. I have given you connection ministry and follow up. I have given you Story Groups. I have given you mission partners and partners in the gospel. And to all of these that have the breath of life, I have given Grace Church.”  And it was so.

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there were evenings and there were mornings, the ninth year.

Thus the vision and the worship were created, and all the partners with them. And in the tenth year, God finished this work that he had done, and he rested in the tenth year from all this work that he had done. So God blessed the tenth year and made it holy, because in it God rested from all the work he had done in creating Grace Church.

These are the generations

Of the partners in the gospel when they were created,

In the day that the Lord God created the partners in the gospel.

When no partner of the gospel was yet in the land and no small church had yet sprung up — for the Lord God had not caused the Spirit to move in the land, and there was no church planter to work the ground, and the Spirit was going down from the heavens and watering the whole face of the ground — then the Lord God formed the church planter of dust from the diocese and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the church planter became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a church in San Antonio, in the northwest, and there he put the church planter whom he had created. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every leader that is pleasant to the sight and good for leading. The senior warden was in the midst of the garden, and the leader of the knowledge of religion and tradition.

A highway flowed out of San Antonio to water the garden, and there it divided and became four roads. The name of the first is I-10 West. It is the one that flowed out from the city, where there was food. And the food of that land is good; enchiladas and tacos are there. The name of the second road is I-10 East. It is the one that flowed out of Fair Oaks and the whole land of Boerne. And the name of the third is Camp Bullis, which flows out of Crown Ridge. And the fourth road is West Tejas Trail.

The Lord God took the church planter and put him in the garden of San Antonio to work it and grow it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely use the gifts of every leader in the garden, but of the leader of the knowledge of religion and tradition you shall not use, for in the day that you use it, the church plant shall surely die.”

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the church planter should be alone; I will make him a partner fit for him.” Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every partner of the gospel and every participant in the church plant and brought them to the church planter to see what he would call them. And whatever the church planter invited them to, that was their ministry. The church planter gave ministry to all the leaders and to the partners in the gospel and every participant in the church plant. But for Jay there was not found a helper fit for him.  So the Lord God caused years of committee work to fall upon the church planter, and while he served on committees the Lord God took one of his ribs and closed up the place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God took from the church planter he fashioned into a women’s minister and co-planter and brought her to the man. Then the man said,

This at last is soul of my soul

And heart of my heart;

She shall be called Jamie,

Because she is the partner of Jay.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one heart. And the man and his wife were both church planters and they were not ashamed.

50/50 Prayers

March 9, 2018

Grace 50/50 Prayer

Faithful and gracious God, we know that you are not slow to fulfill your promises. We humbly come before you in agreement asking you to bring us 50 new families in 50 weeks. Enable us, by the power of your Spirit, to invite and welcome new people into our community. Prepare our hearts, that we would receive your blessings with joy, giving you honor and glory and praise. Amen.

  1. For the Mission of the Church (BCP, p816)


Everliving God, whose will it is that all should come to you
through your Son Jesus Christ: Inspire our witness to him,
that all may know the power of his forgiveness and the hope
of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you and the
Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayer for MIssion – Morning Prayer Rite II (BCP, p100)


O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the
earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those
who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people
everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the
nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh;
and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for Mission – Morning Prayer Rite II (BCP, p101)


Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on
the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within
the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit
that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those
who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for
the honor of your Name. Amen.

Collects for Various Occasions – #16 For the Mission of the Church (BCP p257)


O God of all the nations of the earth: Remember the
multitudes who have been created in your image but have not
known the redeeming work of our Savior Jesus Christ; and
grant that, by the prayers and labors of your holy Church,
they may be brought to know and worship you as you have
been revealed in your Son; who lives and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

See more prayers on our website –


Agreement in Prayer

March 9, 2018

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. – Mt 18:19



What does it mean to be in agreement? The best analogy I can think of is a big huge rowboat. We’re all in the same boat. The captain says we need to go North. Now we each must choose to agree or disagree with the captain. There are almost limitless ways to disagree: murder the captain, jump out of the boat, refuse to row, throw people overboard,  and on and on.


But there is only one way to agree. Row the damn boat.

But we can’t each row on our own, or the boat goes nowhere. We have to row together, in the same direction, at the same time, for the boat to move.

If only a few people row and everyone else watches, the rowers will tire before the boat even gets close to the destination.

If some people row one direction, some people row another direction, and some people just use their paddles to splash each other, the boat won’t even move.

If half the people row one direction and half the people row the other direction, there is a lot of sweat and effort going on but no movement.

If half the people row one direction and the other half don’t row at all, then the boat looks like it’s moving but it’s only going in circles.

We must all row in the same direction, at the same time, together. That’s the only way to move the boat, the only way to get where we want to go.

This is what it means to be in agreement in prayer. Not just nodding our heads or saying the words. Not just agreeing for the sake of agreement. But sitting side-by-side, gritting out teeth, and rowing together in the same direction.


50/50 Prayer Campaign – strategy

February 21, 2018

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask,it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. – Mt 18:19


  1. Pray
    1. Read “My Friend Grace” @
    2. Agree in Prayer @
    3. Wear your “I Agree” prayer bracelet
    4. Father Jay will write an original 50/50 prayer for us to pray
    5. Pray during the week
    6. Pray in your Story Group
    7. New 50/50 prayer at worship
    8. Participate in the day of prayer on Good Friday
    9. More prayer opportunities coming in Summer and Fall
  2. Prepare
    1. Vestry will create a StoryBrand marketing platform
      1. clear, concise story of our “brand”
      2. 1 minute “elevator pitch” everyone can use
    2. Update website
    3. Update internal communication to Gracers
    4. 3 “Bring a Friend” worship events
      1. April 8 – Abide in Me series starts
      2. June 3 – Summer series starts
      3. Aug 26 – back to school kick-off
    5. Update Sunday morning signage
    6. Improve Children’s Ministry
    7. Add more Story Group leaders for Fall
    8. Other new ideas


  1. Lord, hear our prayer
  2. God will do what we cannot.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God  who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, – Deut 7:9

My Friend Grace

February 21, 2018

Let me introduce you to my friend, Grace. Most of you know her already. So you know how wonderful she is. She is smart and funny and creative and kind. She loves children and spends a lot of her time helping others. Grace likes to try new things and always smiles at strangers. Best of all, Grace loves Jesus. And Grace loves people.

Grace has been growing for a while now. It’s sometimes hard to believe she’s almost 10. Ten years old! Where does the time go. I remember when she was born: July 1, 2008. I can see it like it was yesterday. She was so little and cute. She spent the next few years growing like children do, a little here, a little there, not so you would notice it from one day to the next. But when you compared her birthday pictures from one year to the next, you could really see the difference.

Grace is strong and beautiful. She’s healthy, happy, and hopeful. She’s always learning new things and taking that next step. I love her. You love her. And she loves you.

But Grace has a problem.

It’s time for her to leave the nest. She’s ready to fly, to take that next big step off the edge into tomorrow.  She can’t stay a child forever. And as her Uncle Paul says, “when you become a grown-up, you have to put away childish ways” (1 Cor 13;11). Grace needs to keep growing in order to become who God has created her to be.

Thankfully, Grace has good people to help guide her into the next stage of her life. She has surrounded herself with smart, capable leaders who care about her and want the best for her. And we have a plan. Our plan comes straight from the Lord God, out of the mouth of Jesus, through the Bible, into us. “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven” (Mt 18:19).

Again I say to you. Jesus was trying to teach his followers something important here. And like any good teacher, or parent for that matter, He repeats himself for emphasis. Did you really hear what I just said? Let me say it again to make sure.

If two of you agree. To agree with someone doesn’t just mean to wag your head and say yes. It’s one thing to agree that parachutes work when you’re sitting safely in your living room. It’s another thing entirely to strap one on and jump out of a plane. To agree in prayer is to take that leap. It is wholehearted commitment that involves risk, sacrifice, and effort. We don’t agree in prayer with our lips. We agree in prayer with our lives.

We, Grace’s chosen leaders, are calling on you, counting on you, her friends, her family, to agree with us in prayer.

Our prayer is bold, maybe even audacious. It will certainly leave us knowing God has answered our prayer. Because only God can do this. We can’t. It’s impossible for us. But we know that all things are possible for God. So we are praying that God will bring 50 new families to Grace in 50 weeks. We’re calling it the 50/50 Prayer Campaign. And it’s already started.

The 50/50 Prayer Campaign started in worship on Jan. 21 when everyone present agreed in prayer. We agreed to ask God to bring us a professional youth minister, that God would enable our leaders to step out boldly in Faith beyond our budget, and that God would bring us the money to back up that Faith and pay this youth minister.

God has answered all three of those prayers.

Again, I say to you, God has answered our prayers.

Our vestry decided unanimously to trust God to provide the financial means to support the vision God had given us. For the first time ever, we chose to move beyond our budget. Prayer answered.

We have hired a game-changing, professional youth minister with 20 years of experience to be our Youth Evangelist. His name is Glenn Meschko, he and his family live in Boerne, and he started on Sunday. Prayer Answered.

In two short weeks, Jan. 21 – Feb. 4, without a single request being made, God moved the hearts of His people and brought us an additional $18,000. That’s right. Eighteen thousand dollars. Which is actually two thousand more than we needed. Just to show us how generous He is in response to our agreement in prayer, God gave us more than we even asked for. PRAYER FREAKING ANSWERED, BABY!

Now we are calling you, the family and friends of Grace, to stand in agreement in prayer with us that God would bring 50 new families to Grace in 50 weeks.

 YES, I AGREE.                        No, I do not agree.

To agree means you will pray with us, serve with us, give with us, risk with us, grow with us. To agree means you willingly accept the uncomfortable nature of change that will result from our success. To agree means you will recognize and glorify God for what He is doing — what He alone can do — in and with and through Grace.

Now, if we fail in this, then we will lose staff positions next year. Which means we lose the mission and ministry they would be able to provide. Which means we will lose families, as well as potential families. Which means we will lose opportunities to serve and grow and worship and share our faith. Which means we will not be carrying out our mission.

But if we succeed… If we succeed in this, we will be transformed by the presence and power of God. We will be transformed by engaging God in prayer in a deeply profound way. Grace will be transformed because she will double in size. This will enable us to fund our youth minister position in 2019 and beyond. We will be able to bring on a Women’s Minister, greatly improve our Children’s Ministry, and cover the expenses of using our new building.

So the Lord be with you. Let us pray.


Stepping into Our Future

October 11, 2017

A group of sixteen Grace leaders gathered at Melanie Geist’s office last Saturday to think, plan and pray for the next stage of growth for Grace Church. Their focus was to create a vision of what and who for Grace’s future. It was a fun and interesting process led by Brad Hunt, a business consultant and Christian who has served as a leader in two different church plants.

We began the day with a Bible study on John 15:1-17 and discussed what it meant for us, as individuals and as a community, to abide in Christ. Then we spent some time in prayer. This encounter with God’s Word and God’s Presence prepared us to seek God in the midst of our work together.

Thus prepared, Brad led us to envision our ultimate goal: Grace Church with 600 vibrant, active partners in the gospel. And while the national average for worship attendance is 40% of your active members, we envision 400 people at worship, which is 66%, because we want vibrant, active partners not boring pew fodder.

He then asked us to imagine WHAT that would look like, this Grace with 600 partners and 400 people in worship. We filled up a white board describing this future Grace. It looks like this: White Board

You would think the natural next step would be to work on how we were going to get to our new vision. But because we are a faith community and not a business, Brad led us in a different direction. He asked us to envision WHO we would need in our community to flesh out our WHAT. For example, if you are going to start a restaurant (what) then you need a cook, waitress, busboy, cashier, hostess, and bartender (who). So we asked ourselves who we would need in leadership, as volunteers and on staff. We came up with over a hundred different ideas for WHO.

Then we grouped them into categories to help us think about it strategically. The list we came up with looks like this: Green Cards

Lastly, Brad called us to rate the importance of all the different WHO categories. This would give us a clear picture of where we should start to pursue our new WHO. Each person got two votes, except for Ron. Sixteen leaders, two votes each, total of 32 votes.

The results were interesting and encouraging. There was a clear delineation in the answers. Check it out:

  1. PR/Marketing/Visibility – 14 votes
  2. A More Impactful Youth Ministry – 6 votes
  3. Women’s Ministry – 3 votes
  4. Children’s Ministry – 2 votes
  5. Worship Producer – 2 votes

These are the core concepts our leaders have chosen for us to focus on in 2018. These core concepts will infuse our stewardship, impact our budget, and guide our planning. These concepts are not Jay’s ideas, or the Bishop’s ideas, or some scruff we found on the internet. These concepts are what our leaders have chosen as we seek to abide in Christ.

Our next steps are to develop some next steps and to pray. The Bishop’s Committee, working with a few key outside leaders, will develop a strategic plan that answers the question HOW for our WHO and WHAT. This process will take a 3-4 months to complete. In the mean time, we each have a next step to take now. We must begin to pray for the future of Grace Church. We must turn these words on paper into words of prayer.

Our prayer becomes: “Lord, bring us people who will improve our PR/Marketing/Visibility to others. Lord, bring us people who will create a more impactful youth program. Lord, bring us people who will serve as key lay leaders in children’s ministry, women’s ministry and worship production. Lord, bring us people  to grow into a community of 600 vibrant, active partners in the gospel. Lord, bring us people, by the power of your Spirit and to the glory of your Name. Amen.”


Give God One Day

April 1, 2017 1 Comment


Good Friday Challenge

As part of our 50/50 Prayer Campaign,

I am calling Grace Church to a Day of Prayer & Fasting

on Good Friday, March 30.

I challenge you to Give God One Day.

The purpose of Give God One Day is to call us into a deeper relationship with our Lord as we share in His suffering by deliberately walking through Good Friday on our way to Easter Morning. We should expect God to reveal Himself to us more fully as we more fully dedicate ourselves to Him. We should expect God to reveal more of ourselves to us, as well.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. – Mt 7:7-8

This is a challenge. It won’t be easy. But it will be worth it. The Good Friday Challenge is comprised of six separate, yet related, areas of spiritual discipline. They are:

  1. Day Off
  2. Prayer
  3. Fasting
  4. Scripture
  5. Worship
  6. Devotion

#1 – Take the day off from work, school, and housework.

Take a personal day. Take a vacation day. Call in sick if you have to, but take the day off and give it to God. This may not be possible for everyone, I get that, but take a chance and stretch yourself. Whether you work outside of the home, or work from home, attend school, or stay at home your work will still be there on Monday. Here’s some suggestions:

  • Plan ahead – any work due on Friday or Saturday needs to be done by Thursday
  • Students – make a plan for when you will do your homework (but let’s be honest, it’s not like you were going to do any homework on a Friday anyway).
  • Don’t check your email – make sure your workplace can get in touch with you in case of an emergency, but don’t check your email. You’ll just get sucked into the black hole of busy-ness.
  • Stay-at-home moms & dads and people who work from home – This will be harder for you than for people who work outside of the home. Those folks go to work, so they can avoid work by not going to the workplace. You don’t have that luxury. You live in your workplace. It becomes even more important for you to prepare ahead of time, or you will find yourself distracted by all the things you can see need to be done.
    • Do your house chores Mon-Thur
    • Stay out of your home office

#2 – Spend Time in Prayer

Spend some time in prayer, more time than usual. Use your own books or online resources and devotionals. Or make up your own prayers. Use the 50/50 prayers from the Grace Connections blog – Or walk the stations of the cross at GraceLand.  We have 7 series of prayers for the stations of the cross available for you. All you need to do is click and download the .pdf documents from the website.

Find the prayers at : or

The prayer series are:

  1. Stations of the Cross
  2. Prayers for Good Friday
  3. Prayers for Those in Need
  4. Prayers for Those We Love
  5. Prayers for Others
  6. Prayers for an Individual
  7. Prayers of Thanksgiving

#3 – Day of Fasting

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer lists only two days in the whole year as days of fasting: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Though we have largely forgotten fasting as a spiritual discipline, it is still a practice recommended for all Christians.

Because this is new to us at Grace, I am providing several different types and levels of fasting for us to choose from.  There is a fast for children, and one for teens. There are several fasts for adults, and even some alternative fasts. I encourage you to begin slowly if you have never fasted before.

Click here to choose your fast:

1“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven…. 16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. – Mt 6:1, 16-18

#4 – Read Scripture

Read Ch 26, “The Hour of Darkness” in The Story.

Or read the crucifixion narratives in each of the four gospels

#5 – Attend Worship

Attend one of the Good Friday worship services in All Saints Chapel. Service times are 12:00 and 7:00 pm.

Good Friday Worship

Good Friday worship is characterized by prayer and silence. It is simple, yet powerful. There is no music. We neither celebrate nor serve communion. We dim the lights and forego the use of technology. It is a chance for each of us to kneel at the foot of the cross. We do not have childcare during the Good Friday services.

About the Liturgy
The Friday before Easter Day, on which the church commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. It is a day of fasting and special acts of discipline and self-denial. The liturgy of the day includes John’s account of the Passion gospel, a solemn form of intercession known as the solemn collects (dating from ancient Rome), and optional devotions before the cross (commonly known as the veneration of the cross). The eucharist is not celebrated in the Episcopal Church on Good Friday.

#6 – Acts of Special Devotion

This sounds pretty religious. But it’s really just finding a different way to connect with God. Be creative. Use your environment. Use your gifts & talents. Here are some suggestions:

  • Movies – watch a film that makes you think about God, whether or not it is an overtly Christian film
    • The Passion of the Christ (not recommended for children)
    • Episodes 8 & 9 of The Bible mini-series
    • Facing the Giants (Kinda’ cheesy, but not horrible. Jay has several copies. It’s not available to stream on Netflix, only on DVD)
    • The War – featuring Kevin Costner & Elijah Wood (contains some graphic language)
    • Remember the Titans – starring Denzel Washington
    • The Prince of Egypt – animated story of Moses, excellent for children
  • Service
    • Call your local animal shelter. Ask how you can volunteer on Friday.
    • Call the food bank. Ask how you can volunteer on Friday.
  • Activities
    • Walk the Prayer Trail at GraceLand.
      • Bring your Story Group. Bring your family. Or come on your own.
    • Go on a hike with your family. Thank God for His creation.
  • Spiritual Reading
    • Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
    • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
    • The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
    • Jesus with Dirty Feet by Don Everts

Good Friday Fast

April 1, 2017 1 Comment


1“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven…. 16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. – Mt 6:1, 16-18 

“Throughout Scripture, fasting refers to abstaining from food for spiritual purposes” (Foster, Celebration of Discipline, 48). Fasting is an ancient spiritual discipline, practiced by Christians since the founding of the Church. As you can see in the quote above, Jesus assumes his followers will fast because he twice says, “when you fast”. He doesn’t say, “if you fast” or, “should you fast” but, “when you fast”. So the first reason for fasting is that our Lord, Jesus, expects us to do so.

The second reason for fasting is to enable us to focus on God. “Fasting must forever center on God. It must be God-initiated and God-ordained…. Every other purpose [for fasting] must be subservient to God…. If our fasting is not unto God, we have failed…. John Wesley declares, ‘First, let it [fasting] be done unto the Lord with our eye singly fixed on Him. Let our intention herein be this, and this alone, to glorify our Father which is in heaven…'” (Foster, Celebration of Discipline, 54-55).

Another reason for fasting is that fasting reveals hidden truths about ourselves to us. “More than any other Discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface” (Foster, Celebration of Discipline, 55).

Part of why we are fasting on Good Friday is to prepare us for Easter Sunday. By fasting, we share in some small way in Christ’s suffering on the cross. By sacrificing, we share in His sacrifice for us. When we give our meal time to God, we allow ourselves to experience more deeply the power of Good Friday. How much more precious then will be Easter morning!

HOW TO FAST – Some Fasting Recommendations

  • Plan ahead. Do something to connect with God during the time you would usually be eating. Give God your meal times. Pray, read Scripture, attend worship. Don’t just skip a meal; that’s dieting, not fasting.
  • Recognize true hunger.  “You will probably feel some hunger pangs or discomfort before the time is up. That is not real hunger; your stomach has been trained through years of conditioning to give signals of hunger at certain hours. In many ways, the stomach is like a spoiled child, and a spoiled child does not need indulgence, but needs discipline…. You must not give in to this ‘grumbling.’ Ignore the signals, or even tell your spoiled child to calm down, and in a brief time the hunger pangs will pass. If not, sip another glass of water and the stomach will be satisfied. You are to be the master of your stomach, not its slave” (Foster, Celebration of Discipline, 57).
  • Beware of hangry. Many people feel angry when they get hungry. Hangry is the popular term for this. The best way to counteract feeling hangry is to pay attention. Look for it. Name it. Recognize your feelings. Remind yourself that you control your emotions; they don’t have to control you. It may be that you are using food to cover up anger. God might use fasting to draw this to your attention.
  • Drink lots of water.  You take in more water than you realize from food, so you need to replace that water intake by drinking extra water.
  • Limit your caffeine intake. If you can go without caffeine for the duration of your fast, then do so. If not, then limit your caffeine intake by substituting water or fruit juice for your typical beverage.
  • Do not exercise. When you exercise, you burn calories. If you burn too many calories without taking in any additional calories from food, your body skips the hunger stage and goes straight to starvation mode. This may leave you feeling dizzy, lightheaded, and nauseous. This is not fun, and makes it almost impossible to maintain a fast. You will have a much better chance of completing your fast if you skip the exercise for the duration of your fast.
  • Consult your doctor. If you have any sort of ongoing medical condition, health concern or illness, then you ABSOLUTELY MUST CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR before taking on a fast. Don’t assume you can’t fast. But also don’t assume you should. Check with your doctor and follow his/her advice.
  • Food with medicine. If you regularly take medicine that needs to be taken with food or after eating, THEN CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE FASTING. Figure out what you can and/or should eat in order to take your medicine. Don’t assume you can skip your medication for a day. Don’t assume that it is safe or useful to take your medication without following the instructions.

SEVERAL TYPES OF FASTS – Choose one that works for you

Fast for Children

As we discussed the idea of our day of prayer & fasting, the staff at Grace wanted to find a way to include our younger children. We don’t want to make parents’ jobs any harder than they already are. Nor do we want to create any food issues for the kids. This is what we came up with:

  • Fast from sweets and desserts – Let your kids know that no one in the family will eat any sweets or dessert on Good Friday. No cookies, candy, cake, cupcakes, ice cream, etc.. Make sure they know you are doing this with them. Move any sweets out of children’s sight. Explain to them why your family is doing this.

Fast for Teenagers

Teenagers deserve special consideration for our Good Friday Challenge. Their bodies are already burning a ton of calories just growing. And many of them participate in athletics or other activities that require their bodies to burn even more calories. So we thought of a special fast that accounts for their unique requirements.

  • Fast from meat and fish – This allows teenagers to still take in the necessary calories from carbohydrates. It also allows them to take in protein from eggs, beans and rice. Yet it requires them to give up something significant that is a normal part of their meals. They (and their parents) will need to plan ahead for meals that exclude meat and fish.

Fasts for Adults

  • 6 hour fast
    • 10:00 am through 4:00 pm
    • Miss 1 meal – lunch
    • Break your fast with dinner on Friday, 4/14
  • 13 hour fast
    • Sunrise @ 7:09 am through sunset @ 8:01 pm
    • Miss 2 meals – breakfast and lunch
    • Break your fast with dinner after 8:01 pm on 4/14
  • 24 hour sunset fast
    • Sunset on 4/13 @ 8:00 pm through sunset on 4/14 @ 8:01 pm
    • Miss 2 meals – breakfast and lunch
    • Eat dinner before 8:00 pm on Thursday, 4/13
    • Break your fast with dinner after 8:01 pm on Friday, 4/14
  • 24 hour sunrise fast
    • Sunrise on 4/14 @ 7:09 pm through sunrise on 4/15 @ 7:08 am
    • Miss 3 meals – breakfast, lunch, and dinner
    • Break your fast with breakfast after 7:08 am on 4/15
  • Juice fast
    • Apply to any of the above time frames
    • Replace eating meals with “juicing” vegetables and/or fruit or drinking smoothies
    • Break your fast with meal appropriate to the time frame you have chosen

Alternative Fasts

If medical concerns prohibit you from fasting from food. Or if the fasts listed above just seem like too much. Then rather than ignoring the idea of fasting all together, consider an alternative fast. These alternative fasts can also be done in conjunction with any of the above fasts.

  • Phone Fast – Turn off your cell phone for 12 or 24 hours. Don’t put it on silent. Turn it off and leave it alone.
  • Social Media Fast – Ignore all of your social media for 24 hours. Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. Snapchat. Linked In. Blogs. And whatever else is out there. Pretend it simply doesn’t exist.
  • Deodorant Fast – Go without deodorant for 24 hours. See if your family and friends still hug you. KIDDING! THAT’S A JOKE, PEOPLE. Please don’t do this. Your loved ones will thank you.
  • Screen Fast – No screen time for 24 hours. This means no phone, tablet, computer, TV or movies. Don’t look at any screens for a whole day.
  • News Fast – Are you a news junkie? Consider taking a day off from all of your news sources. Go 24 hours without taking in any news.
  • Negative Fast – Could you go 24 hours without complaining? Can you cut out sarcasm, put-downs, and negativity from your vocabulary? Go 24 hours without saying anything negative.
  • Sports Fast – No Spurs. No baseball. No ESPN. No blogs. Go 24 hours without watching, listening, reading or doing anything that connects to sports.


Remember our tag line: relationship, not religion. This is between you and God. Challenge yourself. Push yourself. Don’t be afraid to make yourself uncomfortable. But remember Grace. There is room for mercy here. So be gentle with yourself, especially if this is the first time you have fasted. This is not a test of your self-discipline. It’s not a measure of willpower or the practice of goal-setting. This is about connecting with God in a new and powerful way. Stay focused on Jesus. Allow fasting to be another tool you use to strengthen the foundation of your Faith.


  • Foster, Richard. “Celebration of Discipline.” Harper Collins, San Francisco. 1978.