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Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, October, 2021

posted Sep 29, 2021, 6:04 PM by Lois Kerchner

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On October 3 we will celebrate World Communion with Christians all around the world from all kinds of denominations.

I am drawn to contemplate the one piece of furniture that is the most essential piece in any dwelling, be it in one’s home or the church, at least in my opinion: the table.

For me, it is the centerpiece of a home, the place of gathering, of feasting, of long conversations. It’s a place of daily communion that transpires when family and friends pull up a chair and sit across from one another, break bread, and share their lives.

I think back to all the tables I have sat around and still do, like the one in my late mother’s house. My family grew up around this table.  The varnish has worn off in places, and my mother had leaf inserts that weren’t meant for the table, that slip and slide out of place, so you had to be very careful where you placed your glass. But she needed her table to grow to accommodate the large number of people who would gather round.

What is it about the table? For one thing it gives us space apart from one another to remain individuals, and yet, it draws us ever closer to one another through storytelling, through laughter, through sharing burdens. It’s a level playing field both visually, literally and metaphorically.

I have many memories around my mother’s table, of holiday feasts, or sitting long after everyone else was excused because I refused to eat my peas, and of my brother pitching a glass of milk over my head when I teased him about a girlfriend.

Later in life, many of my friends came to that table and discussed everything under the sun.   I remember sitting around my mother’s table weeping after my father died and we were preparing his funeral. And joyous times like sharing breakfast after having a surprise 80th birthday party for my mother. So many memories!

My mother had the gift of hospitality. I will be eternally grateful that I can say yes to this question in the home I grew up in. Her arms are always open wide. Somehow or other, God has always provided enough food to go around. Every meal has been a Lord’s supper—cooked and baked with gratitude, served with love, and for those who have had the privilege of being served around that table they have been given sustenance to go forth into the world and bring the gospel of generous grace to others because in one small way, they experienced that kind of generosity around her aging table, whose joints squeak and whose surface is scratched.

As we come together to celebrate World Communion may we envision our brothers and sisters in Christ from around the globe sitting at all kinds of tables and be awakened to their plights as they continue on their faith journey through many diverse wildernesses. And may each one of us see our own tables, both in church and in our homes, as the Lord’s, where we willingly nourish one another body and soul.

The bell is ringing.   Dinner is ready!

Pastor Tom

 

Gabriel's Horn, Pastor Tom, September, 2021

posted Sep 2, 2021, 11:31 AM by Lois Kerchner

Having Hope When You feel Stepped On!

I hope you will enjoy this and be blessed by this as much as I was:

The other afternoon, I was walking on the back of a concrete porch. When all of a sudden, I felt a crunch. As I looked down at my feet, I noticed that I had accidentally stepped on a butterfly. I paused and thought a moment about how sad this butterfly’s life ended by such a tragic death.

I am so thankful for the butterfly. They are a beautiful reminder of two wonderful lessons from the Bible (resurrection, and being a new creation in Christ).

Every year we watch as the caterpillar flips themselves upside down and wraps themselves up in a chrysalis. They look dead for weeks. Then all of a sudden, we watch the change, marvel again at the miracle: how the tomb doesn’t always mean death; maybe it means resurrection. The chrysalis cracks open and there in the morning light burst forth the first butterfly. What a beautiful reminder that from death comes resurrection and beauty. The caterpillar that was once entombed now experiencing new life!

For us, the caterpillar also reminds of the ones who die to self and then gain new life in Christ.   2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here!” When we live for Christ, we too like the caterpillar, bury the old ugly sin nature, and we emerge a beautiful creation in Christ. The butterfly is a beautiful reminder of who we are in Christ (new creations).

Maybe you’ve been that butterfly.  Eager to fly. Excited for freedom. Hoping for beauty. Then crushed, bruised, broken. Maybe you’ve started this year with anticipation, holding your breath for that first sign of good news. And you’ve already felt like a giant foot has squashed you to the ground. Maybe it seems like nothing ever changes even though you desperately long for it to change. Proverbs 13:12 says: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Hope isn’t a fickle whim, a fanciful impression that maybe good things will come your way. When you feel a little bruised and battered, like a butterfly crushed at that first taste of freedom, hope can feel a little shaky, a little elusive, a little hard to see in the deep of the dark.

Hope is a steadfast knowledge, an anchor of truth that without a doubt you know: God is good and He will take care of you. So, when we are weary and defeated, we can seek hope. God brings life out of death. Just like the butterfly, we can soar above.

Pastor Tom

 

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


 

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