Foundation – the basis on which a structure rests

Foundation – The Basis on which a structure rests
Sermon Reflection on the Aryees – Story of Us – Part I
– Andy Gilstrap – The Gathering at Scott Memorial UMC Worship Director


Traveling around the country and the world you run across many old buildings in various condition.  As a novice fan of architecture, this is something I really enjoy, particularly, old churches and cathedrals in the cities I’ve been fortunate enough to visit.  While reflecting on the design of the structures, I often contemplate the aspect of the building that is unseen – the foundation. 

I would argue that the foundation of a building is the most important, or integral, part of the structure.   When visiting an old structure, we are often completely oblivious to the fact that the foundation exists. Yet, at the same time, we are intuitively aware of it.  There is something about a failing foundation that is impossible to ignore.  Deep down, we all feel a sense of sureness, safety, and comfort in a building, no matter the size, that is built on a solid foundation.  A foundation that is failing, shows its weakness in many places and forms throughout the entire structure.  I would say these manifestations of a failing foundation, give us a sense of unease and impending destruction.  When a building is failing from its core, we know that it won’t be long before its no longer inhabitable, or usable.  At this point, the building has lost its function or identity.  


We tend to be taken up with grandness of cathedral ceilings, columns, stained-glass, and corridors stretching in all directions…but it is the foundations of these buildings that determine what can and will be built.  It is the foundations that allow the creative thinking and design to function freely.  It is the foundation, which is laid first, that gives a cathedral its footprint and identity.  The foundation determines the structure’s limitations or boundaries, but gives the architect the safe confines on which to use creative imagination.

No matter how grand, well-thought out, ingenious, practical, or creative a building design and construction is, it can be deemed uninhabitable if the foundation is not sure and long lasting.  It is the core of our being and our identity that is our foundation.  What is your foundation?

We are able to be who we truly dream or desire to be, when we have a sure and strong foundation.  Do you have a strong foundation in relation to the Divine?  Do you see the divine in the core of who you are? Do you find that foundation strengthened in your community of others?  Are you finding your foundation resonating with the hum of life that is at the core of the universe?


A sure foundation pushes us into the current of life.  It gives us the certainty needed to go and be who we are.  A solid foundation is always moving us into action and being.  Just a the foundation of a building is laid deep, solid, and remains hidden, the building resting above is creative, functional, working, and in-use.  A building is not a building unless people are coming and going; living, creating, gathering, and thriving within.  You can visit these cathedrals, and even the ones that lay in ruins, are still identifiable by the foundation that remains.  The legacy of a building is preserved by its foundation.  You will know what stood for and how is was used, by the foundation that was laid.

Can we build a foundation within ourselves that always gives movement? Will our foundation move us into things that permanent or even eternal?


Eugene Peterson, when reflecting on Matthew 7:24-27, writes…”the idea of building a life out of Christ’s words is based on one word in the Greek–poieo, which in other translations is rendered “do”. From the Greek word, which is a very active word, we get the English word poet.  A poet is a person who takes words and does something with them, makes something personal and original out of them. Jesus says, be poets.  Make something  of these words I have spoken to you. Make a life, epic and poetic. And make it beautiful.  Make a work of art. 

That’s something we all can do.  One well-chosen word at a time. One stanza of service at a time.  And with our words and deeds, we can leave something beautiful behind in the lives of others.”


Do you have a solid foundation?  Do you know who you are?  What have you built your identity on?  A well-laid foundation will always lead to life humming with action.  The busyness of life being created, lives, and shared.  What is your structure?  Is it eternal?  Divine?  Does reverberate with the echoes of the foundation of the universe itself?  


It is never too late to creatively redesign the “building” that lays on the foundation…just remember to do the structural repairs needed to the foundation, first.

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