First United Methodist Church

Service Times

9am Contemporary | 11am Traditional

Lenten Devotion: Making Ourselves Home in God’s Love

The truth is, I am actually a home-body. I love adventures and traveling, I do, but I love my time at home. Ever since leaving my parent’s home and moving away to college, I have had almost 10 homes or apartments since entering adulthood. As I have occupied them for as little as a year and as long as four years, each one has a different size, location, pros and cons, but I have made my home in each. (I guess this is a learned trait as an itinerate pastor). While I love traveling and exploring with my children, our pace has changed a bit lately. As they grow and life gets busier and busier, I am learning to be content much more with our valuable time at home. Time that we can enjoy each other, play with our toys, create new worlds, clean and organize our reality and entertain loved ones. There is something so holy about a home and how it feels to belong to one.

As I process the Scripture from Sunday and the way it changes who I am becoming, I enjoy reading this Scripture John through a different version. Here is a portion of that Scripture from The Message.

5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

9-10 “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.  John 15:5-10

While the sermon focused on remaining in God and showing our love not to earn God’s love, but because of it, this thought of “making myself at home in his love” really resonates with me. Think about that for a minute. How do we make ourselves at home in God’s love?

Well, how do you make yourself at home in your home? For me, I am most comfortable in my pajamas, or my comfy clothes. I kick off my shoes and wipe the day off of my face. If I am awarded those rare, calm moments, my legs are up on our couch or I’m snuggling with my kids or reading a book with them on my lap. In our house there is usually singing and noise and one talking over the other, there is clutter and playdoh pieces, Legos and half-finished drawings. There is unfolded laundry, books scattered all over and beds always unmade. This is what it means to feel at home for me.

How do you make yourself at home? And how does that translate into you remaining in the True Vine? Are you comfortable and relaxed, or are you all dressed up and ready to perform? Are you bare in your clutter and messes and disorganized thought, or do you feel the need to clean up quickly as if guests are coming over? Do you spend time and just BE in the presence of Christ by loving those God has blessed you with or are you always wanting more?

If remaining in God is about making ourselves at home in His love, then we look to Jesus for the example. We see his vulnerability, trust, openness and deep need to connect to His Father. Over and over again we see Jesus at home in God’s love through their intimate connection and relationship. And we are invited to do the same. What would it look like if you approached your relationship with God like you do your own home? What would have to change in you to reach that level of comfort and vulnerability? As we near closer and closer to Jesus’ final week on earth, what is one way that you can tweak your relationship with God that feels more familial and more at peace as you grow?

May God add God’s blessing to the reading and the meditating of these words.



Lenten Devotion: The Cornerstone

Growing up, I can often remember going with my Dad to job sights. In fact, he always had a child’s sized hard hat in his car for me to wear so that I could stay safe with him. He is an architect and has been one for over 40 years. I have always been fascinated by building sites and how quickly homes and commercial buildings are erected. My dad showed me how to read a blueprint in Elementary school and it was amazing to watch those blueprints come to life. In Middle School, my dad designed the home I grew up in and during the summer of 1999, we watched that home getting built. First, the land was cleared, then the foundation poured, then the walls, roof, windows and doors were constructed. We all pitched in to paint it over a few weekends and then moved in the Fall of 1999. There is a lot that we can learn about our faith journey through watching a home being built.

If you read through the Scriptures, there are several references to buildings as a lesson for our faith journey with God. On Sunday, Pastor Philip shared about how if Jesus is the Cornerstone then we are called to submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and allow ourselves to be used in God’s Holy Temple. The Cornerstone is the first piece that is laid down on a foundation and it is what all other pieces are laid down in connection to which signifies its utmost importance. Other stones in the building, temple, or church will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure. Cornerstones now are no longer made out of stone, as they were in Jesus’ day, but with more modern building materials. Now cornerstones are about the symbolism and the dedication of the building and who helped shape it. Sometimes a Cornerstone would have the year the building was established or the name of the Architect on it to commemorate its dedication.

And so, if we don’t live in stone structures anymore and we don’t worship in stone churches today, what can we take from this metaphor on Sunday and how do we implement it? How can we daily live out that Jesus is the Cornerstone in our lives?

If a Cornerstone is the first piece laid down, then start your day with Jesus. If Jesus is the one that sets the walls in alignment for a building, then, Jesus can align the priorities, relationships, and situations in our lives and set them straight. When we take the time to pause and begin or dedicate our day back to God, it is amazing what we see unfold. When we start with our relationship with Jesus being primary, the other issues of the day seem to either melt away or figure themselves out. Not all of the time of course, but at least most of the time. This can be one way of using the metaphor from Sunday to grow in our faith.

Another way to understand this metaphor is to remember the modern use of a Cornerstone. In today’s culture, you can often see Cornerstones as symbolic of celebrating the person or persons that the building is dedicated to. And in some cases, Cornerstones serve as a time capsule that commemorates the stories of the people that use that sacred space. Either way, we ask ourselves, if Jesus is the Cornerstone, is His name written out in a permanent way on the corner of our lives? When people look at us, do we act as if we are commemorating the life, death, and resurrection of Emmanuel? Are we dedicating our words, actions, ambitions, and passions to the one who can calm the seas and raise the dead? Do we represent the Image of God in how we carry ourselves and treat one another?

As I think back to my younger years, I know that God has a blueprint for each of us; a design of a life lived out in abundance. And I know, from life experience that a home isn’t built in a day, just like our faith will be tested and grows over time. But as I consider this building metaphor throughout my life, I must ask and answer honestly, is Jesus the Cornerstone or am I? As I consider this, I invite you to think about this with me. And may you ask God to show you a way of more deeply understanding Jesus as the Cornerstone for your own life.