Welcome to Northminster

We are a biblically-based Presbyterian church seeking to experience and share God’s love to transform our homes, community and the world. We hope you will join us.
 

Join us this Sunday!

We have Sunday school for all ages at 9:45, and the worship service is at 11am. We look forward to seeing you! Click here to find out where we are and get in touch. If you are not able to join us in person, we invite you to follow our livestream, which you can find here.

Upcoming Events

January 2023

Sunday, January 29

9:45 am – 10:45 am
Adult Sunday School: Adult Sunday School
9:45 am – 10:45 am
Sunday School (children & youth)
11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Helping Hands Offering
11:00 am – 12:15 pm
Online Worship
11:00 am – 12:15 pm
Sunday Worship
6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Youth Group: Sunday Night Live

Tuesday, January 31

12:00 pm – 12:30 pm
Lynchburg Daily Bread Meal Distribution

February 2023

Wednesday, February 1

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Midweek Prayer Time
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Choir Practice

The Latest from our blogs…

January 2023 Pastor’s Corner — Liminal Spaces

 …but [Jesus] holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. — Hebrews 7:24–25

Liminal is from the Latin word limen, which means threshold.  A liminal space is the time between ‘what was’ and ‘next.’  We see and experience liminal spaces in all sorts of ways, some more obvious than others.  Examples of liminal spaces include turning the calendar to a new month or year, the solstices and equinoxes, sunsets and sunrises, the shore (being the threshold between sea and land).  The picture above captures several liminal spaces at once — the beach at the transition from low to high tide at sunset.  Many religions, such as the druidic religions of medieval England, make a big deal about these liminal spaces, believing that they are places and times where the veil between heaven and earth is particularly thin, thus allowing better access to the gods and the afterlife.

The idea of liminal spaces is something that we recognize intuitively, if not consciously.  We are drawn to liminal spaces like the beach, because something about it makes us feel closer to God.  We make new years resolutions each year because we see the start of the year as an opportunity for a “new beginning.”  We try to take advantage of these times and spaces because we hope they will enable us to reconnect with, draw near to, or simply grow deeper in our relationship with God.  But what we learn from Jesus Christ and Scripture takes the idea of liminal spaces and simultaneously transforms it and deconstructs it.

Jesus Christ has transformed liminal spaces by making our entire faith, at least at this time, a prolonged spiritual liminal space.  When Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, He inaugurated the Kingdom of God.  However, the Kingdom of God will not be fully consummated until Christ returns at the end of the age.  Until then, we live on the “threshold” of the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God is already here, but it is not yet here.  Martin Luther speaks of our walk with God as a liminal space when he says that we are at once justified and yet still sinful; we are both sinner and saint.  Paul describes this tension so well in Romans 7:7-25.  The life of faith itself is a liminal space, between what was and what is next.

However, Jesus Christ has also deconstructed liminal spaces and times.  We don’t need to find liminal spaces and times in order to draw near to God.  When Jesus died on the cross, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” (Matt. 27:51)  The curtain in the temple separated the Holy of Holies, the place where heaven touched earth and the high priest would commune with God.  It was a liminal space.  Because of Jesus Christ, the barrier between us and God has been removed.  Thanks to the presence of the Holy Spirit, we don’t need liminal spaces or times in order to draw near to God because God is always near to us and with us.  That is the promise of Emmanuel, “God with us.” 

This year is a little bit unique.  On January 1, we not only start a new year and a new month, but also a new week.  It’s quite natural to want to take advantage of this particular liminal time to commit to some changes. There’s certainly nothing wrong with making new years resolutions.  However, don’t forget that, as our Scripture above reminds us, we do not need liminal times and spaces in order to draw near to God, because Jesus Christ has already done everything needed for us to do so.  We are able to draw near to God any time, any where, because He has already drawn near to us.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. — James 4:7–8

Blessings,

Rev. David Garrison


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December 2022 Pastor’s Corner — Christmas Tradition

 “The tradition I handed on to you in the first place, a tradition which I had myself received…” 

— 1 Cor. 15:3

Of all of the seasons of our lives, the one most rooted and grounded in tradition is Christmastime. Every family does the Christmas season differently, and every family is convinced their way is the right way!  There’s the right time to put the tree up, the right way to do the decorations, the right way to hang the lights, the proper time for Christmas dinner, and, of course, the correct way to open the stockings and the presents.  For many of us, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas unless the traditions are maintained and practiced correctly.  And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!

In fact, “tradition” plays an important role in our lives, beyond just Christmas.  Traditions help ground us in our lives; they provide a way to make sense of how the world works and where we fit into the world.  Sociologists call this a metanarrative, a “big story.”  That “big story” becomes explicit during the holidays, but is always there, whether we’re intentionally thinking about it or not.  In fact, the Bible is very clear that the traditions of our faith are very important tools for helping us understand our faith, how to live out our faith, and how to pass our faith to others.  The traditions aren’t the end in and of themselves.  They are there to help us see the deeper life of faith to which Christ is inviting and calling us, signposts that remind us of what God has done in the past, is doing in the present and what He has yet to do in the future.

Over the course of Advent this year, we’ll be looking at the various parts of our Christmas Tradition.  While the details are different for everyone, in general we all have particular traditions to help us prepare for the season, to get into the spirit of the season, lights that brighten the season for us, songs that carry the season into our hearts, ways of celebrating and rejoicing in the season, and the joy of presents given and received.  All of these traditions help us delight in all that Christmas offers, but are also meant to point us past the holiday itself in order to remind us that, just as Jesus Christ took on human flesh 2,000 years ago in his First Advent, He will just as surely return for his Second.  Celebrate how the world and history changed 2,000 years ago.  But don’t lose sight of that for which we all deeply long: His imminent and certain return.

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. — Rev. 22:16–17

Blessings,

Rev. David Garrison


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November 2022 Pastor’s Corner — The God Who Sees You

 So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.’ 

— Genesis 16:13

The story of Abram, Sarai and Hagar in Genesis 16 isn’t one we talk about very often, and when we do, it’s usually to make the point that we shouldn’t rush God’s plans or the consequences that come when we take matters into our own hands (which are very valid applications of the story).  But if we only focus on that part of the story, we miss something beautiful that happens.

If you don’t remember the story, let me recap briefly:  God has promised the childless Abram and Sarai more descendants than there are stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5-6).  But they are very old (86, in fact – Genesis 16:16) and are getting past childbearing years.  So Sarai gives her servant Hagar to Abram (a culturally acceptable but very bad idea), and she becomes pregnant.  Shockingly, Hagar starts to get a little “uppity” with her mistress (Genesis 16:4).  Sarai starts abusing Hagar, so Hagar runs away, deciding it’s better to risk crossing the Sinai desert in order to go home to Egypt than stay.  Alone, pregnant, with little to no supplies, what must Hagar had been thinking and feeling during those hot days and cold nights?  The story doesn’t tell us. 

But this is what the story does tell us:  Hagar is an Egyptian and not a Hebrew.  She never once prays to God.  As far as we know, she has no faith in the Lord and the thought of appealing to the God of Abram never crosses her mind.  She doesn’t even appeal to the pagan gods of her ancestors.  And yet, “The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.” (Gen. 16:7)  The angel of the Lord tells her to go back and submit to Sarai, but then promises, basically, that the promises made to Abram for his son (who hasn’t yet been born or conceived) will be given to Hagar’s son’s descendants. Her response to this is the verse at the top of the article. Nothing has changed regarding her circumstances, but Hagar is filled with hope and praise.

Why?  Because now she knows that she has been seen by the Lord.  In the midst of her distress and fear, she realizes that she is not alone.  Where she has feared for her future, she realizes that God has been and will continue to look after her.  Let me emphasize this again: God does nothing to change her situation, in fact He sends her back to Sarai.  And it’s likely that Ishmael didn’t experience the promised blessings himself (Genesis 16:12), but his descendants would be princes!  “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

Many times we feel the same as Hagar.  Lost in our afflictions, our sufferings, our struggles.  We are sure that God does not see or hear us in our distress, and we wonder if He even cares.  But if God saw Hagar, lost in the wilderness, then God sees you as well.  God is looking after you, even if you don’t see it.  And while your circumstances may not change (I pray they do!), His promises are still true and sure.  He is the God who sees, He is the One who looks after you.  Know that you are not alone or forsaken.  He is with you, even until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

— Romans 8:38–39

Blessings,

Rev. David Garrison


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October 2022 Pastor’s Corner – Answering Before We Even Ask

 “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.” (Matt. 7:7–8)

Last month, I wrote about how frustrating it can be when God doesn’t answer our prayers as quickly as we like.  This month, I’d like to remind us that more often than not, it’s actually the other way around — God is often answering our prayers before we even ask.  I’m writing this on Wednesday morning, as Hurricane Ian is about to make landfall in Florida as an almost category 5 hurricane.  By the time you read this, the storm will no longer exist as a named storm and the damage will be done.  Take a moment with me to go back to just a day or two before the hurricane’s landfall.

Yesterday, I was driving up the 29N Bypass to pick my daughter up from school, and I saw at least a dozen utility trucks heading south.  As you know, Rt. 29 isn’t really a major N/S artery in Virginia – that’s I-81 and I-95.  It struck me that if there were that many trucks passing our neck of the woods, how many more are on the interstates, also heading south?

Hundreds of thousands of people have evacuated Florida, which given the size and scope of this storm is a very wise decision.  But thousands will stay behind for a wide variety of reasons.  Given what Ian did to Cuba, and what Puerto Rico experienced last week, we need to be praying for God’s mercy and protection for those in the path of this storm.  This is going to be bad.  

But this is what I saw yesterday:  God was already answering those prayers.  He was already moving into place the people and  resources folks along the Gulf Coast are going to need to recover from this storm.  God was already in the process of answering prayers that had already been lifted up, and anticipating the prayers that were yet to come.  Thousands upon thousands were fleeing the storm, while hundreds were heading toward it.  Utility companies from around the country and disaster relief organizations were marshaling their resources and coming together, ready to spring to action the moment the storm passes.  

Our God is an awesome, and a very, very good, God.  I’m reminded of Psalm 18.  I don’t have the space to quote it here, so I encourage you to go read it.  As you do, keep this in mind:  When the storms of life (both literal and metaphorical) threaten God’s children and we cry out to Him, He springs to action on a storm of his own.  Amen, and amen again.

Blessings,

Rev. David Garrison


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September 2022 Pastor’s Corner – Left On ‘Read’

 “O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.

 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing;
heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.

 My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O LORD—how long?” (Psa. 6:1–3)

If you are looking for a way to annoy a teenager (and really, who isn’t?  It’s so much fun!), one of the best ways is to read a text they send you and not respond to it.  This might be a trick that only works on iPhones, but here’s the basic idea.  iPhones can send a status update for texts sent to other iPhones, letting the sender know when the message was delivered and read (you can see an example in the picture, look below the text bubble that says “on”).  It absolutely drives my daughter crazy when I read her text messages and don’t reply promptly.  It upsets her because she knows I’ve received her message, and I’ve even read it, but I haven’t yet answered her.  The first time she called me out on it, she exclaimed, “Dad, you left me on ‘read’!” I had no idea what she meant until she explained it to me.  While that time was accidental, I now do it all the time, just to annoy her.

The thing is, though, I always respond to her messages, but I don’t always do so via text.  I might wait until the next time I see her.  I might choose to respond with actions instead of words.  I might respond to the text message with an email or a phone call.  Sometimes, I’ll respond through her mother or brother.  I don’t actually do this to annoy her (most of the time), but because I think those might be better or more efficient ways to respond in the moment.

This has been on my mind lately, because I think there are a lot of times when it feels like God has left us on ‘read.’ We pray, but we don’t hear an answer… or maybe the better way to say it is that we don’t receive an answer from Him in the way we would prefer.  If my daughter texts me, she would like a text message back.  Promptly.  Sometimes, God answers our prayers in very different ways from what we might prefer or desire.  Sometimes, He answers our prayers weeks, months, sometimes even years after we lift them up to Him.  We know God hears our prayers, the Psalms remind us of that all the time (see Psalm 3:4, 4:3 17:6, 55:17, and 116:1), but it seems like God leaves us on ‘read’ when He doesn’t answer our prayers when or how we would like.

But God does, in fact, always hear our prayers.  And He always answers them.  Our task is to trust in Him and wait patiently for His answer.  His timing is always perfect, and His methods are precisely what we need.  The question is, when God seemingly leaves us on ‘read,’ will we continue to trust in Him?

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. — Psalm 40:1–3 

Blessings,

Rev. David Garrison


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