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Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, Full Text

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, June, 2021

posted Jun 7, 2021, 1:03 PM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Jun 7, 2021, 1:18 PM ]

June 2021

Gabriel's Horn

SUMMER FOCUSA couple went camping in the desert. After they got their tent all set up, both fell sound asleep.

Some hours later, the wife wakes up her husband and says, "Look up toward the sky; what do you see?"

He replies, "I see millions of stars."

"What does that tell you?" she asked.

He ponders for a minute and says, "Astronomically speaking, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three in the morning. Theologically, the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and seemingly insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.” What's it tell you?"

His wife replied, "You’re not as smart as I thought. It means someone stole our tent."

All that we do and all that we know is based upon our perspective.

Have you ever known that you were right about something only to find out that you were in fact mistaken? I have more than I care to admit.

My perspective was skewed for one reason or another and it caused me to misinterpret things that should have been obvious. It brings to mind the old expression, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” Well, I’ve had times when I couldn’t see the trees for the forest! How about you?

Christ’s message about how we are to interact with one another and how we are to relate to Him can be like that.

His message is so obvious in passages like Matthew 5:43-48, Mark 9:35 -37, Luke 7: 37-38 and John 11:25, but still we have troubles. Take a moment and read them.

Sometimes we need to re-prioritize and re-think where these passages lead us, not just in the good times, but more importantly in the tough ones.

Christ came into this world for everyone! Let’s live and cherish the power of the Holy Spirit, the love of Jesus Christ and the greatness of God.

This is challenging and often convicting. And a great focus for the summer months before us.

Grace and Peace,   
Pastor Tom

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, May, 2021

posted Apr 30, 2021, 10:38 AM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Apr 30, 2021, 10:39 AM ]

All Those Years

My friend Debbie's two daughters were in high school when she experienced severe flu-like symptoms. Debbie visited her family doctor, who told her the flu bug had passed her by. Instead, she had been touched by the "love bug" and was now pregnant. The birth of Tommy, a healthy, beautiful son, was an event for celebration, and as time went by, it seemed as though every day brought another reason to celebrate the gift of Tommy's life. He was sweet, thoughtful, fun-loving and a joy to be around. One day when Tommy was about five years old, he and Debbie were driving to the neighborhood mall. As is the way with children, out of nowhere, Tommy asked, "Mom, how old were you when I was born?" "Thirty-six, Tommy. Why?" Debbie asked, wondering what his little mind was contemplating. "What a shame!" Tommy responded. "What do you mean?" Debbie inquired, more than a little puzzled. Looking at her with love-filled eyes, Tommy said, “Just think of all those years we didn't know each other." Alice Collins (From Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul)

I wonder if this is how Jesus feels when years go by in a person’s life and they haven’t come to know him, I mean really know him. I think about all the opportunities afforded to each of us throughout our lives and yet for many there is a distance between them and God. That distance doesn’t need to be there and certainly God yearns for the closeness of parent and child in its most beautiful form. My mom and I were close and I thank God for that.

As we think about our moms in this month of May, let us not forget that our Creator Mother/Father knew us from the beginning of time and sewed us together cell by cell
with complete unconditional love. That God sent Jesus Christ into the world to save us from all that was keeping us apart from God and that his sacrifice and our belief in his resurrection assures us that we will be reunited with pure love in the appointed time.

I would like to wish all of the wonderful ladies I know a Happy Mother’s Day!

Grace and Peace!
Pastor Tom

Let’s All Wear Something Red! 
  Pentecost Sunday – May 23

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, April, 2021

posted Mar 30, 2021, 5:01 PM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Mar 30, 2021, 5:02 PM ]

Jesus and the Secret to Life

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).  There you have it. That’s the secret to life.

It’s the pattern of loss and renewal that runs throughout our lives and our world. Even if you’ve never thought of this as the secret to life, you’ve lived and experienced it, sometimes by choice and other times by chance. Either way it’s there.

Look at the way this pattern is present in your life. Have you ever fallen in love and committed your life to another? If so, you had to let parts of your old life go and something of your single life died so that you could be with that other person. How about parenting? If you are a parent you know that there are sacrifices of yourself and your life to be made in order for the new life of your child to emerge and grow. We give up parts of ourselves for the other. Parents are continually letting go of their child so she or he can grow up. Have you ever been the caretaker of another? If so, you could name the parts of your life that died so that another might live with dignity, compassion, and love.

What are the costs, the losses, you paid for an education or a career? You chose certain losses and let go of some things so that other things could arise. For every choice we make, every yes we say, there is at least one no and probably many.

This same pattern is in nature. You can see it in the changing of the seasons, falling leaves and new blooms, and the setting and rising of the sun.

Think about the scriptural stories of loss and renewal. Innocence in Adam and Eve died so that consciousness might be born. Abram left his country and kindred so that he might be made a great nation, renamed Abraham, and be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Jacob lost his old identity and was wounded so that he could become a new man, Israel, with a new life. James and John left their father, boats, and nets to become disciples of Jesus and fishers of people. Jesus taught his disciples, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again” (Mark 9:31).

The secret is out. It’s everywhere. It is a pattern of loss and renewal, dying and rising, letting go and getting back, leaving and return. It’s at the core of our baptism and it’s what we declare at communion.

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

What in your life do you need to let go of today? What might you need to leave behind? What needs to die so that something new can arise?

 We know the secret.   The answer lies in what we do with it.

Pastor Tom




Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, March, 2021

posted Feb 25, 2021, 8:34 AM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Feb 25, 2021, 8:35 AM ]

Thought for Lent, 2021

Lent calls us to look inward to see outward, to see others. To see as God sees. As disciples are called to see. 

Consider the words of Pope Francis:

         Rivers do not drink their own water.

 Trees do not eat their own fruit.

 The sun doesn’t shine on itself.

 Flowers do not spread their fragrance for themselves.

 Living for others is the rule of nature.

 We were all born to help each other.

 No matter how difficult it is, life is good when you are happy, but much better when others are happy because of you.


    Pastor Tom


Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, February, 2021

posted Feb 1, 2021, 8:52 AM by Lois Kerchner

Now That The New Year Has Begun!

On Epiphany Sunday, January 3, our challenge from God’s word was to make meaningful New Year’s resolutions and commitments. I believe this is so important to our spiritual health and overall well-being that I want to remind us again of the four things we talked about. Because God honors His Word I am certain that if we make these commitments, and ask Gods help, it will make a world of difference in our lives.

So, here they are:

       Commit yourself to forget your failures

       Commit yourself to give up your grudges

       Commit yourself to restore your relationships

       Commit yourself to turning your back on your transgressions

Why not share with your brothers and sisters how you were blessed in your endeavor? We all benefit when we share the joys of what God does in our lives!     

Not sure how?

      Write something for the Newsletter or bulletin

      Post on Website or Facebook

      Share in Church

      Write to Pastor Tom, who will read your story in worship

Let’s grow together by sharing the greatness of God and testifying to His faithfulness!

May God be Praised!

Pastor Tom

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, January 2021

posted Dec 31, 2020, 10:09 AM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Dec 31, 2020, 10:10 AM ]

New Year; No Fear! 

It has been said that the most common phrase in the Bible is: Fear not!

On January 1, 2020, we had no idea what the new year would bring. No one was aware of COVID 19, the approaching pandemic, or the way it would change our lives in dramatic ways. Yet, despite the suffering and inconvenience, God was with us.

On January 1, 2021, a new year begins. And we do not know what lies ahead.

But this we do know: our God is with us and our God loves us and all will be well!

Hear the words of Isaiah 41: 13, For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

Remember, "Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8: 38-39).

And, with God's Word, which lasts forever, I say, Happy New Year!

Pastor Tom

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, December, 2020

posted Dec 1, 2020, 12:19 PM by Lois Kerchner

“Camping Out”

Therefore, “let us go to him, then, outside the camp, and bear the humiliation he endured. For there is no permanent city for us here, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:13–14).

So many “camps” today.   Religious and political.  Each so well defended.   Likely our own.

The prophetic position was always “on the edge of the inside,” which is described by the early Israelites as “the tent of meeting outside the camp” (Exodus 33:7).

And even though this tent was foldable, moveable, it was a meeting place for “the holy,” which is always on the move and out in front of us.

In our present cultural climate, it has become all too easy to justify fear-filled and hateful thoughts, words, and actions in defense against the “other” camps.

We project our anxiety elsewhere and misdiagnose the real problem (the real evil), forever exchanging it for smaller and seemingly more manageable problems.

The over-defended ego always sees, hates, and attacks in other people its own faults—the parts of ourselves that we struggle to acknowledge.

We do not want to give way on important moral issues, but this often means we don’t want to give way on our need to be right, superior, and in control.

It is our deep attachment to this false or manufactured self that leads us into our greatest illusions.

Most of us do not see things as they are; we see things as we are.

May we have the humility to seek the mercy and wisdom of God!

Pastor Tom, with gratitude to mentor Fr. Richard


Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, November, 2020

posted Oct 31, 2020, 9:15 AM by Lois Kerchner

From Pastor Tom,

God has placed it on my heart to share these words from Father Richard Rohr. May you be as blessed as I was.

Some simple but urgent guidance to get us through these next months.

I awoke on Saturday, September 19, with three sources in my mind for guidance: Etty Hillesum (1914 – 1943), the young Jewish woman who suffered much more injustice in the concentration camp than we are suffering now; Psalm 62, which must have been written in a time of a major oppression of the Jewish people; and the Irish Poet, W.B.Yeats (1965 – 1939), who wrote his “Second Coming” during the horrors of the World War I and the Spanish Flu pandemic.

These three sources form the core of my invitation. Read each one slowly as your first practice. Let us begin with Etty:

There is a really deep well inside me. And in it dwells God. Sometimes I am there, too … And that is all we can manage these days and also all that really matters: that we safeguard that little piece of You, God, in ourselves.                      —Etty Hillesum, Westerbork transit camp

Note her second-person usage, talking to “You, God” quite directly and personally. There is a Presence with her, even as she is surrounded by so much suffering.

Then, the perennial classic wisdom of the Psalms:

In God alone is my soul at rest. God is the source of my hope. In God I find shelter, my rock, and my safety. Men are but a puff of wind, Men who think themselves important are a delusion. Put them on a scale, They are gone in a puff of wind. —Psalm 62:5–9

What could it mean to find rest like this in a world such as ours? Every day more and more people are facing the catastrophe of extreme weather. The neurotic news cycle is increasingly driven by a single narcissistic leader whose words and deeds incite hatred, sow discord, and amplify the daily chaos. The pandemic that seems to be returning in waves continues to wreak suffering and disorder with no end in sight, and there is no guarantee of the future in an economy designed to protect the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and those subsisting at the margins of society.

It’s no wonder the mental and emotional health among a large portion of the American population is in tangible decline! We have wholesale abandoned any sense of truth, objectivity, science or religion in civil conversation; we now recognize we are living with the catastrophic results of several centuries of what philosophers call nihilism or post-modernism (nothing means anything, there are no universal patterns).

We are without doubt in an apocalyptic time (the Latin word apocalypsis refers to an urgent unveiling of an ultimate state of affairs). Yeats’ oft-quoted poem “The Second Coming” then feels like a direct prophecy. See if you do not agree: 

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Somehow our occupation and vocation as believers in this sad time must be to first restore the Divine Center by holding it and fully occupying it ourselves. If contemplation means anything, it means that we can “safeguard that little piece of You, God,” as Etty Hillesum describes it. What other power do we have now? All else is tearing us apart, inside and out, no matter who wins the election or who is on the Supreme Court. We cannot abide in such a place for any length of time or it will become our prison.

God cannot abide with us in a place of fear.
God cannot abide with us in a place of ill will or hatred.
God cannot abide with us inside a nonstop volley of claim and counterclaim.
God cannot abide with us in an endless flow of online punditry and analysis.
God cannot speak inside of so much angry noise and conscious deceit.
God cannot be found when all sides are so far from “the Falconer.”
God cannot be born except in a womb of Love.
So offer God that womb.

Stand as a sentry at the door of your senses for these coming months, so “the blood-dimmed tide” cannot make its way into your soul. If you allow it for too long, it will become who you are, and you will no longer have natural access to the “really deep well” that Etty Hillesum returned to so often and that held so much vitality and freedom for her.

If you will allow, I recommend for your spiritual practice for the next four months that you impose a moratorium on exactly how much news you are subject to—hopefully not more than an hour a day of television, social media, internet news, magazine and newspaper commentary, and/or political discussions. It will only tear you apart and pull you into the dualistic world of opinion and counter-opinion, not Divine Truth, which is always found in a bigger place.

Instead, I suggest that you use this time for some form of public service, volunteerism, mystical reading from the masters, prayer—or, preferably, all of the above. You have much to gain now and nothing to lose. Nothing at all. And the world—with you as a stable center—has nothing to lose.
And everything to gain.

Richard Rohr, September 19, 2020


Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, September, 2020

posted Sep 1, 2020, 11:41 AM by Lois Kerchner

What does the Bible mean by “peace”?

The Hebrew word we translate as peace is “shalom.” The way “shalom” is used does not mean to feel calm nor the absence of conflict. Instead shalom, peace, is the result of right relationships with God, one another, and with creation. The concept of peace is wholeness in all of life.

The United Methodist Council of Bishops, in their 1986 statement “In Defense of Creation,” described the biblical foundation of peace:

“At the heart of the Old Testament is the testimony to shalom, that marvelous Hebrew word that means peace. But the peace that is shalom is not negative or one-dimensional. It is much more than the absence of war. Shalom is positive peace: harmony, wholeness, health, and well-being in all human relationships. It is the natural state of humanity as birthed by God. It is harmony between humanity and all of God’s good creation. All of creation is interrelated. Every creature, every element, every force of nature participates in the whole of creation. If any person is denied shalom, all are thereby diminished.” (Peace with Justice Sunday and Special Offering, 2016 Book of Resolutions)

In the New Testament, Paul begins his letters, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The bishops explained, “Paul’s letters announce that Jesus Christ is “our peace.” It is Christ who “broke down the barrier of hatred that divided us,” creating one humanity, overcoming enmity, so making peace (Ephesians 2:14-19).”

United Methodists recognize that “God’s earth is aching for peace. Domestic strife, interpersonal violence and abuse, civil conflict, ethnic and racial clashes, religious schism and interfaith rivalry, terrorist attacks, wars between nations, and threatened use of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons—all of these prevent us from achieving God’s shalom.”

“The Bible makes justice the inseparable companion of peace (Isaiah 32:17; James 3:18). Both point to right and sustainable relationships in human society, the vitality of our connections with the earth, the well-being and integrity of creation. To conceive peace apart from justice is to compromise the hope that justice and peace shall embrace (Psalm 85:10).”

What will peace look like? When there is peace, no one goes hungry. When there is peace, no one is abandoned to fend for themselves. When there is peace, we support each other’s thriving. When there is peace, differences are celebrated as gifts for the good of all. When there is peace, no external threats (though there may be some) prevent us from living the fullest lives we can. When there is peace, there is also every ground for joy.

Shalom to You!

When we pray for peace and offer one another the peace of Christ, we become channels of God’s never-ending peace that reorders the world toward wholeness.

When we act in the spirit of Christ, we can “sow love where there is hatred, can dispense pardon where there is injury, can cast light where there is darkness.

As instruments of peace and justice, we can seek to replace discord with harmony and to repair the brokenness that shatters the wholeness of shalom.”

Paul’s letters offer assurance that peace is not something we have to wait for in some yet to be determined future. Peace is being poured out on us by God right now. The bishops remind us, “No matter how bad things are, God’s creative work continues. Christ’s resurrection assures us that death and destruction do not have the last word. Paul taught that through Jesus Christ, God offers redemption to all of creation and reconciles all things, ‘whether on earth or in heaven’ (Colossians 1:20).


Pastor Tom

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, August, 2020

posted Jul 29, 2020, 1:15 PM by Lois Kerchner

July 12, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, our coronavirus response team has been hard at work making plans to safely resume in person worship at Leola Church. Please carefully review the information that you receive to learn more about our plans and procedures in the coming weeks.

Like so many of you we long for the day when we can all be together in person again. For the past several weeks we have been meeting via zoom to determine the necessary steps for reopening Leola church. These faithful servants have taken this work very seriously, and I’m grateful for their efforts. Members of the team have dutifully researched conference and public health guidelines, reviewed the data from our churchwide survey, and debated various options for reopening.

Above all our top priority has been your safety. With that priority in mind, the team has developed a timeline and guidelines for return to in-person worship.

We are mindful that many of us have very different comfort levels with regards to going out in public. For some of us, the timeline may seem recklessly fast; while for others it may seem frustratingly slow. Please know that the team shares your concerns, frustration, and pain.

Now more than ever we realize the church is so much more than a building. The church building may be closed, but our church is open because the church is people.

May God's Peace Fill Your Life,

Pastor Tom


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