Sermon Homework for Sept. 23, 2018

Sermon Homework for Sept. 23, 2018
  • I see those struggling with mental illness!

Go to this website and take the stigma quiz or pledge on your phone:

Pray for those experiencing mental illness in our congregation, community, nation and world, especially those who cannot afford treatment or lack a support system.
  • I see indigenous girls and women in need!

Go to and read up on Savanna’s Act and track it or call and write Congress with your thoughts on the bill.  Use the hashtag #NotInvisible and talk about the importance of this issue.

Pray for the victims of these crimes, like a story shared in multiple news outlets yesterday about the Alaskan native woman who was kidnapped, choked until unconscious and sexually mistreated by her attacker.  She reported him and stood up for justice, knowing he could receive a sentence of 5 to 99 years for his crime and was astonished when the prosecuting attorney said he got a “pass” with a plea deal for a lesser offense that has him back out on the street as a free man.  You could write to the judge if you disagree with that sentence (he did serve a year under house arrest during the trial).
  • I see foster children in need!
Go to United Methodist Family Services (where one of our church members works!) and learn more about how to make a difference fostering older children/teens in our community. 
Pray for foster parents and respite parents.

Spend time at the Seton house volunteering with troubled youth in our community. Email Robby Rockey if you want to know more about the Open Table program which is not a fostering program but rather a mentorship program:  

Sharing & Deep Listening

Sharing & Deep Listening 
Sermon Reflection fro Herk Stokely- July 1, 2018

Today, based on this passage, we were asked: “Is St. Paul a hypocrite?”

1st Corinthians 9: 19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

True, Pastor Rachel intended it to be a rhetorical question — but it is a good one. 

Applying what I think  St. Paul is saying here is that if I wish to relate deeply with someone, I have to start where they are.

I have over the years developed what I could described as my personal truth.  It’s been a long journey. I know that it’s not over yet and I’m definitely still working on it. My truth, my experience, my understanding, the adventures – the good, the bad, good choices, mistakes and difficulties are all part of me.  It’s not theoretical.  It’s what I AM and what I’ve come to understand of what that means, all colored by much contemplation, many relationships, insightful teachings and all that I’ve been and everywhere that I’ve gone, and all that I have done.  It is personal and real.  I haven’t arrived where I am either quickly or easily, and whether in joy or difficulties, I am not likely to be easily changed, persuaded or deflected from it.  I think most of us feel that way at some level. 

Paul is saying that if he wants to share his truth with someone, he has to start by making it clear to them that he understands where they are coming from.  In my experience the only way that one can do that is by listening — and listening with a receptive and understanding heart.  When a relationship develops to the point that deep sharing is possible it almost always begins with questions.  Questions, followed by listening and more questions can often open doors to deeper conversation.  When questions flow in both directions, it’s a pretty good sign that a door is beginning to open. 

There is a particular translation of one of the Bible Proverbs that I have found unforgettable.  I read it many years ago and it really struck me.  The Proverbs often speak of the “fool” or “foolish” person”.  It’s translated many ways, but a generous one would be referring to a person who is completely self-absorbed.

Proverbs 18: 2 A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his whole mind.

He’s backing up the dump truck — Look Out – here it comes!  I have met that person a few times, and hopefully I haven’t been that person too often.  Frankly I think St. Paul nailed it!

Earth Day – Celebration of Creation and Creator

Earth Day – Celebration of Creation & Creator
-Reflections from Andy Gilstrap 

Our current discussion on Creation, dealing with our perspective, care, and caring of it, reminds me of a lesson I learned earlier in my life.

When I was in college I would travel home for the holidays.  I remember coming home for Christmas and all the family activities that we would have, like decorating the Christmas tree.  Every year my mom would wait to decorate the tree until we were all home together.  We would open the boxes of decorations, sort them, and start hanging them on the tree.

My mom kept every decoration we made in school.  she saved them and we’ve used them, even to this day. 

Every year I would question, “why are using these old, worn out, and busted decorations that we all made throughout our childhood?”.  I would ask, “can’t we buy some nice, coordinating, clean, and new decorations to make the tree a little nicer?”.  I always wondered why mom was so endeared to these decorations.  I knew the obvious, they were made by her kids, but I didn’t take any further thought into that.  Why?  It had been long enough.  We could move on, right? We had used them, there was no need to deal with these old and delicate things anymore.  They had been used up and they were not worth caring for.  Let’s just move on.  

A few years later, while reflecting on other truths I was attempting to learn, this time came to mind. Looking back I saw the truth that had been very evident to my mom all along. How you care for the gift, will show how you care about the giver.

It wasn’t actually about the decorations.  They are literally irreplaceable.  We can’t go back in time and make those again.  I will never be in first grade again making a cinnamon scented pine cone for the tree.  They are precious,  They are sacred. They are a keepsake.   They are also gone, once they are used up, broken, lost, or discarded.  Again, they are irreplaceable.

But it wasn’t only the fragile nature of them that meant some much to my mom.  It was us.  We meant that much.  How she cherished those gifts showed how much she cared for us.

We can say all the right things.  Go to a church service over and over.  Recite creeds and prayers.  But that is not enough.  Its about more than that.  Its about actually living differently, as well.

This is not a political movement.  This is not a matter of scientific proof.  It is not a lifestyle choice or the hip thing of the moment.  Yes, all those things are feeding into our conversation on the environment.  They are present at our time.  Its not even about a scripture where God calls us to steward the Earth. Its even bigger than that.

Its about our care for God himself.  Not our opinion.  But what actually believe.  Not what we say we believe, but what actually comes out in our actions or inactions. How we live.  Who we are.

How we see creation.  How we feel about it.  How we treat it.  How we talk about it.  How we involve others.  All of this, will show how we actually feel about God.

God is the ground of all being.  He is the source of it all.  He is in it all and is holding it all together.  It is all connected.  

Everything from God is a gift.  Creation is a gift.

How you treat the gift, will show how you feel about the giver.

How you CARE FOR the gift, will show how you CARE ABOUT the giver.


Love & Creation

Sermon for Sunday, April 8, 2018
-Herk Stokely 
Scripture: John 13: 34 “I give you a new Law. You are to love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you. 35 If you love each other, all men will know you are My followers.” 
So here I am, living on a space ship that is hurtling through the voids of the universe at something over half a million miles per hour. On this ship is all that we have in order to sustain the crew and the passengers. There is no other source for air to breathe, the food to eat, and the other essential means for life —– and all of that is being consumed at an unsustainable rate. The question is: Do I Care??? And, if I do, what does that mean?
I am remembering my heedless noisy flying out of nearby Oceana NAS during the late 60s. This was the one I flew at the time. I could have operated much more quietly and safely. I knew how to do that. Keep in mind that this is about creating air pollution, noise pollution and public safety. I may have cared at some level – mostly when perhaps I was working in the garden and someone else was making the noise.. Comparing my plane to the ones making the noise today is like comparing a beagle to a rottweiler but it still made a lot of noise. Even after 50 years I still feel some remorse.
But at the time, the truth is that I really didn’t care. . .

The words we use are part of the problem. One common use of that word “care” the idea of worry or a burden as in “I have many cares.” Another is to care for something and then there is to care about something. Care of myself, care of others, care of nature – etc. and so then even our spacecraft – Earth.
In a kind of twisty way – even if I care even just for myself — it then has to extend to caring about the Space Ship and what is in it. Thus, even if I am distracted or too busy and at times indifferent and unconscious, — at some level I must and do care about the Earth and hopefully for it.. This is particularly difficult for an urbanite who is often far removed from the land and nature. For some, it may be that our caring is about earning enough to pay the bills and afford the food we get from the grocery store. Lets hope that it’s still there when we need it.
“To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.” – Confucious 360 B.C.
By my words, actions, and even by my internal state of peace or upset and turmoil, I can communicate and act out love, caring and peace; or fear, upset, anger and even perhaps do much damage. So as Confucius says, it all begins with me – my inner spirit and how I act it out.
Twenty years ago the Dalai Lama wrote a book titled “Ethics for the New Millennium”. In the very first chapter he spoke of the difference between his concept of spiritual qualities of personal behavior, and religious activities. This is much like comparing Jesus teachings about behavior with church doctrine and creeds which seldom mention His actual teachings.
The unifying characteristic of the qualities I have described as “spiritual” may be said to be some level of concern for others’ well-being – “the thought to be of help to others.” And when we think about them, we see that each of the qualities noted is defined by an implicit concern for others’ well-being.  Moreover, the one who is compassionate, loving, patient, tolerant, forgiving, and so on to some extent recognizes the potential impact of their actions on others and orders their conduct accordingly.
“Thus, spiritual practice according to this description involves, on the one hand, acting out of concern for others’ well-being. On the other, it entails transforming ourselves so that we become more readily disposed to do so. To speak of spiritual practice in any terms other than these is meaningless.” -The Dalai Lama
Beyond outward behavior, the fact is that what is going on inside of me extends beyond me and projects an influence that has an effect on those around me and even onto my environment – and perhaps beyond to the space ship itself. Life is a mirror and often what I see outside of me is just a reflection of what is inside. Who knows how far it can extend. Some have said that the state of the World is just an outward reflection of our collective feelings, thoughts, intentions and attitudes.
A wise man once wrote that if we can ever come to the realization that everything is connected and that there is no true separation, we will change the World.
When I was caring for my wife Lennie’s plants after she was unable to do so. I realized after a while that I was just caring for them, but not really about them in the way that she did. One actually died before I woke up.
A dramatic illustration if this is shown by Lennie’s carrot experiment
The process as she saw it described, was to buy a bunch of carrots that still had their tops on. We usually bought carrots that way so my wife decided to try it. Here is the experiment: Cut identical tops off of two carrots with a bit of the top of the root just as we normally do. Place them in separate identical jars with plenty of water and set them side by side on a sunny window sill. Then for the next couple of weeks, send love, appreciation and encouragement to one and negativity such as anger, resentment, hatred and disparagement to the other. Now my wife could not do the negative part of this as described. It was just not her nature to contain or express those things, so for that part of the experiment she sent only an emphatic command — “Don’t Grow.” My part in this was just to stay out of it other than observing and to take the attached photo after about two weeks.
An interesting aside, my wife felt very uncomfortable with this and said to me that she would never do that kind of thing again. She truly felt remorse
for what she had done to that innocent carrot top. As I said, that was her nature and inner spirit. It wasn’t just about the carrot, it was the feeling that the doing of that came from within her.
I have come to realize that my even unspoken thoughts and attitudes can affect children, pets, family members, coworkers and even the people who happen to be shopping in the grocery store with me. Lennie made a practice of prayerfully projecting her image of Christ Light into a place ahead of her. Then smiling as she was shopping you could see the ones passing by her would be smiling too. At some level I believe that they were clearly affected.
“See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.” – TaoTeChing # 13
I haven’t always done that and I can see the results. In a very real way, the choices I make and the attitudes I cultivate are constantly creating my life and experience and clearly they can also affect others. Jesus told us to Love one Another – even if I or they don’t deserve it. Twenty times in the New Testament we are admonished by Him and the Apostles to do this.  In Paul’s letter to the Galations, we find what he calls the fruit of the spirit. Note that the word “fruit” is singular. He says very clearly and precisely that the fruit of the “Spirit” is love. Much as the Dalai Lama says “spiritual”, so Paul says that this love is from the spirit or spiritual. Then he
provides a list (much as the Dalai Lama did) of personal behaviors – so telling us what that kind of love looks like when we see it.
The word “love” is used to express many different things and in the Greek text of the New Testament there are different words used as well. But the word that those writers used for this specific one is both different and relatively rare.
This love is an expression of Christ Love — a sacrificial love – a love that can forgive the people who are murdering you. A love that sets aside self and selfishness to care for and care about others and in doing so even perhaps about our space ship and all that is in it.
Jesus said: in essence that inasmuch as we do it to the least of others, we are doing it to HIM. …… He also told us that the measure we use for others will be measured back to us – full measure, shaken down and running over. (maybe that’s why that jet noise still bothers me today 🙂 As I sow, so do I reap – personally and globally I am every day creating our my own experience and as we do, our collective destiny.
In his letter Pope Francis said that the way we are treating the World and those in it who are more vulnerable, is not either loving, caring or sustainable. That WE have to change. The Dalai Lama said pretty much the same thing.
We can see and understand this when to take time to go inside of ourselves and discover there – how deeply we are loved by Him; AND … that we are so loved that we can take the risk of offering, expressing and acting out that love and caring to others. And by doing so then find and express, each in our own day to day choices attitudes and actions, our appreciation and care for Him, for ourselves, for others and for the World. Thus we can come to the knowledge and understanding that we, each of us, truly are, as John the beloved said, The Children of God.
A final thought upon which to reflect and meditate.
“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving until the right action becomes clear?”
-TaoTeChing # 15
For those of you who missed his sermon, here is the handout

“I Thirst.”


Lenten Prayer Challenge – Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pastor Rachel Gilmore

“I thirst” are the last words Jesus utters (John 19:28) before he cries out, “It is finished” and dies on the cross. I’ve spent time with people preparing to give birth, preparing for surgery or preparing for death when they are in pain.  They commonly ask for something to drink or ice chips because they are thirsty. I’m not doing a facebook live meditation today because I’ve lost my voice and am home with strep throat. My throat is so infected and swollen that I haven’t been able to eat or drink for over 12 hours and I too, thirst.  And while some numbing medication and antibiotics can get me on the road to recovery and end my human thirst, I wonder if John intentionally included these words from Jesus so we would be reminded of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman in John 4 where Jesus tells her that if she drinks from the water that he provides, she’ll never thirst again.  

What do we thirst for in life?  What do we really desire? What satisfies us?  The world naturally programs us to thirst for money, status, security, beauty, power and belonging,  but we serve a poor, homely looking homeless man who people called a bastard. Jesus wasn’t nominated for Time’s “Person of the Year.”  Jesus didn’t belong, he didn’t thirst for the things that the world thirsts for. Jesus thirsted for justice, for grace, for forgiveness and love and healing and wholeness.  When we make Jesus our priority and seek FIRST the kingdom of God, then the temporary human thirst we experience in our seasons of preparation pales in comparison to the contentment we experience in Christ.  When Jesus thirsted on the cross, he was given wine vinegar on a sponge that was lifted up to him on a hyssop plant. Hyssop plants were minty, sturdy stalks that were used for a variety of things, even medicinal purposes, but God used them as a sign of purification (Leviticus 14:1-7,33-53; Exodus 12:22, Psalm 51:7) .  Christ was purified on the cross before he died, as a perfect and complete sacrifice for us. He thirsted so we wouldn’t ever have to thirst again. As we seek to be purified in our hearts and minds and souls, let us fix our eyes on what really matters- not the number of “likes” on your Facebook page or followers on Nnstagram or dollars in your bank account- “fix your eyes on Jesus,” as the author of Hebrews says, “The author and perfector of your faith…and run with perseverance the race set before you.”  (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Where is your home?



Sermon Reflection by Andy Gilstrap


This past Sunday Rachel spoke of the “dwelling” place.  Jesus had said, “….destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days”. This reminds me of the idea of home.

I have a home.  It nice, safe, familiar, comfortable, and a place where myself and family live.  It exist in a physical space and has an address, but when you think about it, its not really my home.  It could burn down.  It could be blown away in a storm.  We could sale it and move, and then it would become a home to someone else.  We could decide it doesn’t meet our needs and build another.  The reality is, its just a house.  

The truth is whether I’m home, traveling, in the wilderness, at the beach, wherever…my home is where is with my family.  When I am with my wife and two girls, when I am connected to the moment and fully present with them….they are my home.  The idea of home goes way beyond simply a dwelling place and speaks to something much deeper.  Jesus was not talking about the actual temple.

God doesn’t need a cathedral, an arc, or a church building.  He is taking up His residence in us.  We are His home.

In the ancient near east there were many different versions of religion and gods.  It seems that everyone had a god for everything.  At this time, no one believed that any one person had personal access to any god except for a priest.  If you wanted to know what a god was like, you would watch the priest.  How he walked, how he talked, when and where he slept, what he ate, how he dressed, how he treated others, what he found important, the way is filled his time…..all these things would tell you what the god of that religion was like. The priest put the god on display for everyone else.

Then God comes to Moses on Mt. Sinai and says, “…you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Exodus 19:6  You are dwelling place for God and you are putting Him on display.  If you want to know what kind of God others believe in, what kind of struggles they have with him, what kind of questions and doubts….if you want to know why people struggles believing whether God cares for them…look at yourself.  God has taken up His divine residence in you and has asked you to put Him on display for the rest of the world.  You are to reflect the very image of the Divine Himself.  How you live, what you deem as important, how you treat others…will be the kind of God, those you can come in contact with, believe you serve.  If you want others to believe that God is about love, beauty, truth, light, peace, finding the good in all, and bringing redemption…then it is up to you to do these things, as well.  When you show up, you are bringing God with you.  It is not enough to say you believe in this type of god, because you are putting God out there for all to see.  We must find the resolve between what say we believe and what we live.  We must find our home in God, as He finds His home in us….may our home be open, loving, and inviting to all.  May you reflect the image of God himself.  

Recall the old sayings, “home is where the heart is”, or “….home is what you make it”.  What kind of home are you?  God had made His residence in us all.  In what ways are you doing your part to make a home with Him?
-Andy Gilstrap is the Experiential Worship Leader at The Gathering at Scott Memorial UMC 

The Practice of Vulnerability

The Practice of Vulnerability 
Sermon Reflection on Grief & Loss 
by Andy Gilstrap 
I was fixated during the sermon on the timing of the whole thing.  Where it actually fell on the calendar.  The plan.  The irony, if you will, of a sermon dealing with loss, grief, and pain, along with our response within a community to these experiences in our life and in the lives of those around us.  The process of grief and loss.  All the difficulty and discomfort of dealing with these inevitable life experiences right before the start of Advent.  Seriously, we talked about this yesterday and Advent starts next Sunday.  A season where we talk of peace, joy, and light.  A season that centers around the preparation and celebration of the birth of a child.  A baby.  Joy to men, peace on earth, and all that stuff.  These two seemingly opposed human experiences colliding together on the schedule and in our hearts and minds.  What do we do with that?  What are we to think?

I would dare say we already have beliefs about it all.  Even if we if we are unaware of our beliefs.  We move, live, breathe, and make our choices out of our “real” belief system.  Thats in there somewhere.  The really weird thing here, if I’m not reaching too much, is that both experiences of loss and of child birth will deeply challenge those already held belief systems. Not only that, it has been my experience that they will strip you down in all sorts of way, expected and unexpected. You will not find many more times in your life where you feel more empty, simple, small, and dependent than you will in these experiences.   You are suddenly thrust into a deep understanding of your smallness in the universe.  Filled with questions.  Searching for larger and bigger truths.  What is it all about?  The pain, the anger, and the questions that come usually find their way back to God with the ultimate, why.  It is good to question.  It is ok.  It is safe.  Let it out.  Expose your soul.

I have to come to realize that there is one important truth that is unavoidable at these times.  This truth is a posture we should take more often in life when things are more of the mundane nature.  


A brand new baby is so small and dependent.  Fragile.  Unaware of the world around them. Whether you are holding new life and pondering the state of that child, or whether you are experiencing deep pain and loss, there is a deep state of vulnerability at work.  You feel so….exposed.  

It is certainly countercultural and counterintuitive for us, but we should practice vulnerability in our daily lives.  I know we are taught, even if its indirectly, to hold it all in, hold it all together, to be self-reliant.  The strange thing is the lack of life giving energy that is at work there.  When we experience loss or new life for the first time, we eventually reach a point where we are keenly aware that we cannot do it alone.  It uncovers all sorts of things within us.  True vulnerability leads us to the need for community.  The difficult part is that it is so hard to be vulnerable with others.  When we lose someone we love, we are thrust into a true state of vulnerability whether we like or not.  We need help.  We need hope.  We need someone to be there. Yet we still have a hard time being, open, honest, or asking for help.

Vulnerability is a practice.  It takes practice.  We must practice it.  I think real life depends on it.  Being connected truly to current of the universe and the things that eternal, takes being honest and real…with ourselves and with others.  It also takes a safe and dependable community of others.  Being that we are human beings living here in this century and in this culture, we are not good at being safe or dependable.  Vulnerability takes practice from all and with all.  

May we move towards vulnerability one step at a time, just as we move towards the vulnerability of our Creator, day by day, to the birth of His Son, this Advent season.

Messengers – Sermon Reflections

Sermon Reflections from Sunday, Nov. 5 
By Andy Gilstrap 
In 2 Corinthians 4, we are asked to be messengers, errand runners, carriers of the Message.   Going.  Doing.  Being.  Traveling.  We are described as, “unadorned clay pots”.  Clay pots were purposeful, functional, useful, and in-use.  


You’ve heard said again and again,”Life is a journey”…and we are all on it. We feel the weight and the miles of a well-traveled life. Heavy. Hard. Long. Unpredictable. Joy and adventure, balanced with the tension of trials and heartache. How are we to carry a precious message when we don’t feel so “precious” ourselves?  Why even choose to use a vessel that is cracked, unassuming, battered, or thrown-around?  


The further along in life you are the more you appreciate what is ahead of you, what is around you, and where you’ve been…but the longer and more difficult traveling becomes.  We are suppose to carry this message, but we don’t carry ourselves very well…do we?  We stand on street corners looking at the road ahead questioning the effort it takes.  We feel as we’ve been dumped on the curb.  We feel as if we have been beaten in the wake of passing cars, covered in dirt, weather, and trash.  Journey?  It doesn’t always so adventurous, does it?  Sometimes life takes its best shot.


We catch our breath and once again have that feeling that we are suppose to move.  Called to go.  Something to do. Somewhere to go.  Life moves. The road calls. As Jack Kerouac said in his novel, On The Road,
“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer days to go.  But no matter, the road is life.”
In verse 6 MSG, (before the scripture from Rachel’s sermon) the author writes, It started when God said “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.


In the Message’s version of 

Revelation 1:16, what John saw in the face of Christ is translated as perigee sun.

 Perigee is when an object, or satellite in its orbit is at its nearest point to the center of the Earth.  Perigee sun is when the sun is closest to the Earth. God is both warmth and light. Sunlight reveals. E. Peterson comments, “Christ’s face reveals all that is dark, both in us and around us. But that’s not all it reveals. It also reveals beauty and order.” Light also does something else. It brings forth life. Think of a seed lying in the soil. Dark. Damp. Isolated. Seemingly void of life.  It needs sunlight. Sometimes we feel buried and alone.  Left to our own.  Stepped on.  Not knowing which way is up.  In the dark.  Are we dormant?


All the while the light is breaking in, breaking through. Shining on us. Life-light. We aren’t thrown out on the curb with no where to go, no life to live.  This message  we carry, it is life teeming within us.  The sun is at its closest. Its there all along.  We are “thrown down, battered, bruised, but not destroyed”…like a well worn and most trust suitcase on the journey.  We carry around in us everything we need.  The message.  Life itself.  We open the case and let life burst forth.  In the midst of trials and loneliness, Christ has dawned new life, new light. Your bags are packed with this truth.  You are alive. Just like a seed, you are being raised.  


“…But no matter, the road is life”.  So we travel on, toting this message  deep within.

YES! You can make a difference in our world!

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” 
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Food Aid Foundation estimates that 795 million people don’t eat enough food to maintain an active lifestyle.  That is 1 out of every 9 people on earth.  Sometimes we want to do something to help those in need, especially with the holidays approaching but we aren’t sure how to do it.  Do you want to make a difference?  
Join us THIS Sunday, Nov. 5 at 11:15 am as we package up 10,000 meals to send overseas to feed those in need.  We love the Rise Against Hunger Foundation because they make it possible for people of ALL ages to literally put the rice, beans, and vitamins together with their own hands to distribute to people in the world who desperately need more nourishment.  
So come and bring the whole family as we package up these meals at 11:15 on Sunday morning, it’s an outreach experience that you will not forget!

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.