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Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, December, 2018

posted Nov 30, 2018, 4:22 PM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Nov 30, 2018, 5:13 PM ]

Advent Is Upon Us!

Advent is a time of expectation and hope.  “Advent” means “arrival” or “coming,” and it prompts us to pause each day in December and remember why Jesus came at Christmas.   The first mention of Advent occurred in the 300’s A.D at a meeting of church leaders called the Council of Sargossa.   It gradually developed into a season that stretched across the month of December. Traditions vary by country, but common ways of commemorating Jesus’ birth are through Advent calendars, wreaths, and candles.


The Advent wreath first appeared in Germany in 1839.   A Lutheran minister working at a mission for children created a wreath out of the wheel of a cart. He placed twenty small red candles and four large white candles inside the ring. The red candles were lit on weekdays and the four white candles were lit on Sundays.   Eventually, the Advent wreath was created out of evergreens, symbolizing everlasting life in the midst of winter and death. The circle reminds us of God’s unending love and the eternal life He makes possible. Advent candles are often nestled in the evergreen wreath. Additional decorations, like holly and berries, are sometimes added. Their red color points ahead to Jesus’ sacrifice and death. Pinecones can symbolize the new life that Jesus brings through His resurrection.

The most common Advent candle tradition involves five candles. A new candle is lit on each of the four Sundays before Christmas.   A fifth white candle is placed in the middle and is lit on Christmas Eve or Day to celebrate Jesus’ birth.  

   The first candle symbolizes hope and is called the “Prophet’s Candle.” The prophets of the Old Testament, especially Isaiah, waited in hope for the Messiah’s arrival.

   The second candle represents faith and is called “Bethlehem’s Candle.” Micah had foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, which is also the birthplace of King David.

    The third candle symbolizes joy and is called the “Shepherd’s Candle.” To the shepherd’s great joy, the angels announced that Jesus came for humble, unimportant people like them, too. In liturgy, the color rose signifies joy.

    The fourth candle represents peace and is called the “Angel’s Candle.” The angels announced that Jesus came to bring peace--He came to bring people close to God and to each other again.

    The fifth candle represents light and purity and is called “Christ’s Candle.”  It is placed in the middle and is lit on Christmas Day.

The Advent tradition helps us remember that Jesus entered our dark, broken world on the first Christmas long ago, and He’s working even now to restore light, peace, and life.

May you be filled with this Advent expectation and hope this season!


Pastor Tom

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, November 2018

posted Oct 29, 2018, 5:53 PM by Lois Kerchner

How to Vote Like a Methodist


There will be an election on Tuesday, November 6. As this election approaches, we disciples have an opportunity to go to the polls as "holy" people. 


The apostle Peter, referencing Leviticus 11: 44-45, 19: 2, and 20:7 wrote, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”  (1 Peter 1: 15-16)


What does it mean to be holy? It can mean set apart or sacred.  But my personal favorite is from Strong’s Concordance of the Greek, which says the fundamental core of the word is ‘different.’ It is as though God is telling us to, "Be different, as I am different."   


We Methodists have an opportunity to obey God by the manner in which we fulfill our duty as citizens of this great democracy.  How can this be done?  Let’s recall the words of our founder, John Wesley, who wrote the following to the people called Methodist on October 6, 1774:


   "I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them,

      1.  To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy:

      2.  To speak no evil of the person they voted against:  and,

      3.  To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the                                        

          other side."


John Wesley loved the Lord, and he had a vision to “spread scriptural holiness through the land.”  His advice on voting can make that vision a reality.


We Americans are blessed to have the freedom to vote for our leaders. Countless citizens have the right to vote. As followers of Christ, we know that “rights” come with “responsibility.” John Wesley recognized nearly 240 years ago that an even bigger responsibility than the “freedom to vote” is “unity in Christ.”  


God’s people will not share the same political views, but we must show the world how God’s people conduct themselves in a climate of anger, polarization, accusation, and sometimes downright hatred. Now is a perfect time for the people of God to witness to the power of God by being holy, by being “different.” This is an effective form of evangelism, so, let's vote like a Methodist.


See you at the "different and difference making" place!      

                                                                       Pastor Tom

Dear Church Family, 

On Monday, October 29, I will be embarking on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. My prayer is that God will bring new insights that I may share with you, as well as increasing my love for our Savior and all people. When visiting the Western Wall, I shall place Leola UMC on a paper which is inserted into the cracks of the magnificent stones from the Temple. In my absence, our pulpit will be filled by Spirit filled preachers: Rev. George Weaver (November 4) and Rev. Jeannine Brenner (November 11). I know you will pray for them and hear Gods Word through them. You will remain in my thoughts and in my prayers at each sacred site we visit. Shalom!


Pastor Tom


Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, October, 2018

posted Oct 3, 2018, 11:01 AM by Lois Kerchner

On Being Part of Something Special

In 1861, God formed a congregation of believers here in Leola.  The congregation remains, faithfully serving and sharing the love of God. It is a special place.

In 1987, I was ordained into the United Methodist Church. 30 years later, in 2017, I found myself feeling blessed that in that one year alone United Methodists gave more that $140,000,000 to support various ministries of the denomination, all for the promotion of social and personal holiness. In fact $70,000,000 was given directly to disaster response, both locally and internationally, and it was humbling to know that I was part of something bigger; something special. There are 12.5 billion United Methodists in 136 countries working together to serve God's purpose in our generation. Here in the Eastern Pennsylvania conference, there are 103,000 members in 415 churches in 16 counties This, too, is special.

On October 7, 2018, World-Wide communion Sunday, we United Methodists will join the 2.2 billion Christians throughout the world in sharing the blessed sacrament! 

God and His work is special. You my brothers and sisters, are special too!

See you at "The Special" place!

Pastor Tom

P.S. There are many good things United Methodists are doing locally and around the world.  I encourage everyone to visit the Conference website, and also to subscribe to both the West District E-News  and the Conference NEWSpirit Digest.

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, September, 2018

posted Sep 3, 2018, 5:37 PM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Sep 3, 2018, 5:41 PM ]

Sharing the Love in Times of Suffering

In our recent series, Letters from God, we looked at the message to the church in Smyrna, the suffering church. Suffering is never pleasant, and we have all experienced that unpleasantness in varying degrees. At times we have found the experience of suffering to be an effective teacher, often requiring us to trust in God. I’d like to share a story with you in the hope that it can be of some help now or in the future.

In 1895, Christian missionary Andrew Murray was in England and suffering from a terribly painful back injury. One morning while eating breakfast, his hostess told him of a female acquaintance who was in great trouble and wanted to know if he had any advice to share. Murray handed his hostess a piece of paper he was working on. He said, “Give her this advice that I am actually writing for myself. Perhaps it can help.” Here is what it said:

In times of trouble, say:
First. “He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this difficult place; in this I will rest.”

Second. “He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.”

Third. “He will make this trial a blessing, teaching me lessons I must learn, and He will work in me the grace He wants to bestow.”

Finally. “In His good time He can bring me out again. How and when, He knows. And that is enough.”

“Therefore, I am here by God’s appointment, in His keeping, under His training, and for His time.”

I find in these words insights that can only be discovered by one who has experienced pain and suffering. I find also a gift the people of Jesus, the Body of Christ, can offer one another: bringing hope and encouragement through the shared experience of suffering, even from a distance of 123 years.

Thank you Rev. Murray, and thank you to all those suffering brothers and sisters today who find God faithful and share the love of God with us all. Let’s continue to listen to the Holy Spirit as we continue sharing God‘s love.

Greetings from Leola United Methodist Church, the “Share the Love” Place! Pastor Tom

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, August, 2018

posted Jul 31, 2018, 12:12 PM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Jul 31, 2018, 12:13 PM ]


Through the centuries, gifted poets have described with remarkable insight what genuine Christian spirituality looks like.    When I think of the teachings of Jesus, it strikes me that he is, among other things, asking us to be true friends.     Notice what he says in John 15: 15, “I no longer call you servants … I have called you friends.”

 Take some time and reflect on the words of the gifted poet, David Whyte, in this excerpt found in ‘Friendship’ from Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.

"Friendship is a mirror to presence and a testament to forgiveness. Friendship not only helps us to see ourselves through another’s eyes, but can be sustained over the years only with someone who has repeatedly forgiven us for our trespasses as we must find it in ourselves to forgive them in turn.

A friend knows our difficulties and shadows and remains in sight, a companion to our vulnerabilities more than our triumphs, when we are under the strange illusion we do not need them. An undercurrent of real friendship is a blessing exactly because its elemental form is rediscovered again and again through understanding and mercy. All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness. Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die.

In the course of the years a close friendship will always reveal the shadow in the other as much as ourselves. To remain friends we must know the other and their difficulties and even their sins and encourage the best in them, not through critique but through addressing the better part of them, the leading creative edge of their incarnation, thus subtly discouraging what makes them smaller, less generous, less of themselves.

Friendship is the great hidden transmitter of all relationship: it can transform a troubled marriage, make honorable a professional rivalry, make sense of heartbreak and unrequited love and become the newly discovered ground for a mature parent-child relationship.

The dynamic of friendship is almost always underestimated as a constant force in human life: a diminishing circle of friends is the first terrible diagnostic of a life in deep trouble: of overwork, of too much emphasis on a professional identity of forgetting who will be there when our armored personalities run into the inevitable natural disasters and vulnerabilities found in even the most ordinary existence…

Friendship transcends disappearance: an enduring friendship goes on after death, the exchange only transmuted by absence, the relationship advancing and maturing in a silent internal conversational way even after one half of the bond has passed on.

But no matter the medicinal virtues of being a true friend or sustaining a long close relationship with another, the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the self nor of the other, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone."

See you Sundays at the FRIENDSHIP place!

Pastor Tom

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, July, 2018

posted Jun 29, 2018, 11:00 AM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Jun 29, 2018, 11:01 AM ]

The Dirty, Old Wicker Basket

There was an old man who lived on a farm with his grandson. Each morning, the boy watched as grandpa sat at the table reading his Bible. The grandson wanted to be like him, so he started doing the same thing.

One day the boy said, "Grandpa, I keep reading. I don't understand most of it, and what I do understand I forget right after I stop. What good does this do?"

Grandpa said, "Take this dirty old wicker basket down to the river and bring back a basket full of water." So the boy did, but most of the water leaked out before he got back. Grandpa said, "Maybe you need to run a little faster." So the boy tried again with the same result, and in frustration said, "This is impossible. It does no good."

So grandpa asked him to do it one last time, and the boy complied. When the boy returned the grandpa told him to look at how clean the basket was, and said, "You may think it was useless, but you've cleaned it from the inside out. That's what happens when you read your Bible. You may not understand or remember everything, but it slowly cleans you from the inside out"

Sometimes we can feel like this boy, or maybe like the dirty old wicker basket. But let's remember the moral of the story and continue to look regularly into God's Word. Even when we don't fully understand or remember what we read, God's Word is doing its work and affecting us in healthy, positive ways..

See you Sundays at the Bible place!

-- Pastor Tom


New Series Begins July 15!

"Letters from God"


When Paul wrote to the Ephesians, it was a thriving, healthy church. In just a couple of decades, the church was still there, but something was wrong. What happened in such a short time?

In the Book of the Revelation, Jesus speaks to this church in Ephesus (Revelation 2: 1-7). He commends them for the many good things they do: good deeds, hard work, perseverance, good doctrine, and enduring hardships.

Strangely a strong reprimand follows: They had lost their "first love!" They lost Jesus and their original, passionate love for him. Jesus follows with strong words to them. They needed to rediscover their first love. Jesus knew that no matter how important these other good things were, when their first love for him is lost all these other good things count for nothing. Join us as we launch "Letters from God" where we examine all 7 churches of the Revelation, and look for the message Jesus has for us!

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, June, 2018

posted Jun 1, 2018, 1:47 PM by Lois Kerchner

June is a Special Month!

    June is the 6th month of our year. It is also known as "Juno's Month" and stems from the Gregorian calendar and its predecessor, the Julian calendar. It is believed that the month is named after the Roman goddess Juno, who was the wife of Jupiter.   For the Greeks, this would be Hera. June birthdays claim two birthstones: pearl, known for its beauty, and zendrite, regarded as quite rare.  The flower for the month of June is the rose, which has several meanings. A pink rose means perfect happiness. A red rose means, "I love you." A white rose signifies innocence and purity, while a yellow rose conveys sorrow over lost love.

    June has always held a special charm for me. My parents were married on June 3rd in 1950. This year they would have celebrated their 68th anniversary, which is also a communion Sunday. I find this rather poignant. My granddaughter Delaney was born last year on June 30. A recent picture captured 4 generations. 

    June is when the government asks for a quarterly tax payment. And why not? We live in the most prosperous country civilization has ever seen.

    Our United Methodist Church holds it's 3 day annual conference in June, where very important business of God's work is discussed, and clergy and lay representatives worship, pray, study scripture, and re-new our commitment to God's work and one another.

    Of course there is Father's Day. I'm thankful for both my earthly father, who remains alive in my heart, and my heavenly Father who have given me so much for which to be thankful

    I'm sure you also have special things you think about each June.  So let's join together and focus on being especially thankful for all the wonderful things God brings into our lives. And let’s pray daily that our thankfulness will glow as a testimony to our gratitude to God and commitment to share God’s love!

    See you Sundays at the Special place!

                                                         Pastor Tom


Pastor’s Class!


The next Pastor's Class will be unique. Come out on Wednesdays at 1 PM in Fellowship House, June 6, 13 and 20. This course will feature paintings and sculpture from before Christ up to the present time. You will be amazed at how humanity's view of God and God's place in life has changed! It offers excellent observation and discussion opportunities.

I think the following two quotes best express my thinking:

"The greatest artists can help us see what is happening in our lives and what may occur in the future, This is one of the most important services great art can perform."  
Charles Van Doran

"History has a flow to it. Our lives are shaped by the way we think. The way we think determines how we act. Artists reflect culture, often better than writers and inventors, and usually provide the way for the next step."                      Francis Schaeffer

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, May, 2018

posted Apr 25, 2018, 2:30 PM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Apr 25, 2018, 2:31 PM ]


    The liturgical color red for Pentecost reminds us of the tongues of fire that appeared over the heads of all gathered on that historic day when God's own Spirit was given. It has always puzzled me that Pentecost never receives the same emphasis as Christmas and Easter. It is, after-all, one of the most significant days in history. This was the event the prophet Joel spoke of when God's own Spirit would be given to all. It is the event Jesus spoke of as the culmination of God's redemptive work and why He must return to the Father.

    On Christmas the Savior was born; on Easter the Savior died and rose for our sins. Then the Savior spoke of the purpose of His return: sending the Holy Spirit to be poured out on all humanity without regard to race, gender, ethnicity, status, beliefs, or anything that we might use to categorize people It is the birthday of The Church!

    Perhaps a good analogy comes from baseball: What good is reaching first (Christmas) and second (Easter) if you never round third (Pentecost) to reach home? It is mind-boggling to think that the very Spirit of God resides in us because of what happened on Pentecost!

    This year, lets continue to be mindful of this historic day and all that it signifies. In fact, let's celebrate by wearing something red on May 20!

    See you Sundays at the Pentecost place!
Pastor Tom


Be On The Lookout!

    The next Pastor's Class promises to be different. Once I master the challenge of projection technology I will offer a unique course that features paintings and sculpture from before Christ up to the present time. You will be amazed at how humanity's view of God and God's place in life has changed! It offers excellent observation and discussion opportunities.

    I think the following two quotes best express my thinking:

    "The greatest artists can help us see what is happening in our lives and what may occur in the future, This is one of the most important services great art can perform."
Charles Van Doran

    "History has a flow to it. Our lives are shaped by the way we think. The way we think determines how we act. Artists reflect culture, often better than writers and inventors, and usually provide the way for the next step." Francis Schaeffer

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, April, 2018

posted Mar 30, 2018, 8:24 AM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Mar 30, 2018, 8:25 AM ]

On Gardening

It all began in a garden. In John's Gospel (18:1), Jesus leaves the upper room and goes to the garden to begin his passion and death.  Here he would pray a sorrowful prayer, be betrayed by a friend, be arrested by his enemies, and abandoned by his disciples.

It all ended in a garden.  John's Gospel (19:41-42) tells us Jesus' body was buried in a tomb in a garden.

It began again in a garden. The garden setting was a place of burial and resurrection.  Indeed, when the risen Lord appeared to Mary Magdalene, she thought he was the gardener!

How interesting that everything began in a garden (Genesis 2:8) and in the last chapter of Revelation, the Bible's last words, we read that we will live with God forever in the Garden of Paradise.

As we look at the many gardens we pass, or when tending our own, may the Bible's words remind us of the sacred nature of a garden.  May God encourage us to "tend the garden in our heart" and bring forth the beauty of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control...the fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians.

See you Sundays at The Gardening place!

---Pastor Tom

“Diving with Friends” Book Recommendation
         “Strong and Weak” by Andy Crouch

Holy Land Pilgrimage


October 29 –  November 8, 2018


If you or someone you know would like to learn more, see Pastor Tom for a detailed information brochure


“We don’t usually aspire to be both strong and weak. But we see the value of it in those who use their influence to benefit others in the face of suffering.  We see it in Jesus, who wielded tremendous power yet also exposed himself to ridicule and death. Rather than being opposites, strength and weakness are actually meant to be brought together in every human life and every community. Only when this happens do we find the flourishing for which we were made."

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, March, 2018

posted Feb 27, 2018, 6:52 AM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Mar 30, 2018, 8:26 AM ]



Recently I read that in today's world we have ...

Taller buildings and shorter tempers

Wider freeways and narrower viewpoints

More spending and less fulfillment

Bigger houses and smaller families

More time saving devices and less time

More degrees and less sense

More knowledge and less judgement

More experts and more problems

More medicine and less wellness

More possessions and fewer values

More vehicles of communication and less real communication

More ways to make a living and fewer ways to make a life

Added years to our life but not life to our years

Been to the moon and back but don't know our neighbors

Explored outer space and neglected inner space

Cleared up the air but polluted our soul

Split the tiny atom but built big walls of prejudice

Have higher incomes but lower morals

Shown steeper profits but shallower relationships

 Whether all these things are true or not, it is always true that Christians can be a blessing in the world. According to some scholars, in the late 2nd century A.D. a man called Mathetes wrote to Diognetus who was an admired tutor to the emperor Marcus Aurelius. This portion comments on the positive influence of Christians in society at that time:

 "They marry like all other men and they have children; but they do not cast away their offspring. They have meals in common, but not their wives. They obey the established laws, and they surpass the laws in their own lives. They love all men, and they are persecuted by all.  In a word, what the soul is in a body, this the Christians are in this world."    Epistle to Diognetus

Wow! This quote inspires me to be a blessing and let Christ’s love flow to the world in which I live, no matter how things seem. I'm honored to be part of a congregation with this tradition of love and blessing!

See you Sundays at the BLESSING place!

Pastor Tom


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