Thursday, October 29, 2009

Our Creation Story

In Hebrews 11: 1 and 2 we are told that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”

That story is our own story here at Stratmoor Hills.

It is faith in addressing the spiritual need of a new neighborhood and a vision of answering that need by those founding saints that is a core value of the Stratmoor Hills United Methodist story.

It is faith that caused some members and clergy of First Methodist Church in Colorado Springs to approach the developer of the new neighborhood of Stratmoor Hills near Fort Carson with the idea of starting a new church.

It is faith that has been the foundation on the vision and the mortar which held the congregation together in hard and yes, occasionally desperate times.

It is by such an act of faith that less than ten adults gathered at Gorman Middle School to call into existence out of the creation raw materials the Stratmoor Hills Methodist Church.

It is by such an act of faith that Gladys and Fred Abrahamson donated the land and the building we use today.

It is by such an act of faith that the Reverend Paul Murphy went to Mississippi in 1964 facing death and jail in order to seek justice for the least of our brothers and sisters, a prophetic act for which, in the opinion of some then, too much truth was spoken too clearly to power, which saw a congregational rejection of that faith story which set the congregation on its own wilderness journey.

It was by faith the congregation was sustained in that wilderness journey by the blessings of leadership quail, manna and water.

It was by such an act of faith in that wilderness journey that the congregation was tested and refined to be resurrected in a new Century as an Easter Congregation.

It was by such an act of faith that Kenny and Wilma Carpenter sustained the building and the property and it was by such an act of faith that Bonna Campbell and Jerry Zoebisch as well as other saints that the congregation held together the congregation during parts of the wilderness journey by their labor of true love.

We could go on but we don’t have the time to hear the entire story of all of the saints who have faithfully done so much for our little church! Their faithful story is our faith story, and their faith in the future, a faith in each of us.

A new story of old faith is being created by the new Saints who have joined us in our journey in the past five years and are walking to Jerusalem with us now.

Do we really understand what this means? Those saints who went before us were pioneers who blazed the way. Many of these pioneers have finished their race, but stand in that heavenly grandstand cheering us on. Our faith story calls upon us to understand that the race is one of relays, the baton being handed off over and over again: a handoff of faith in faith. These Saints call upon us to take the baton from them and to run our own good faithful race with strength and endurance in order to hand it off again to those who come behind us, having run our own good and faithful race. Look at that word faithful – faith full!

This means we have their faith to inspire us and we are asked to run our own faithful race. Their example is before us. The next verse in Hebrews tells us that we are to: “Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it.” (Peterson, Hebrews 12: 3) We have the biblical faith story; we have the story of those who have gone before us here, and the story of all the Saints who have run this race in all of the Churches of all of the world. When we find ourselves growing tired in our faith and losing our energy or our focus, we should go over our own creation story again, name by name. That will surely give us that dose of Starbucks’ coffee we need for our tired souls!

We are certain of what we do not yet see, and we know that by our faith in what is as yet unseen, we will surely call that unseen into our world. Our eyes are truly fixed with the Saints, on Jesus! Amen.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


At our "lock-in" with the Bishop this week, one of the things she asked us was: what metrics were we willing to be in covenant with the Methodist leadership to achieve?

I think it was a way of asking us: What does fruitful look like to you?

We have in the last year had a major jump in attendance. We started a second service, our target was young adults with children, and it is working. Many of them seem to have some connection with Fort Carson. It took right at fourteen months for that jump to occur, it didn't happen over night.

I would also like to see us more involved in caring for a recently released prisoner from jail. They have a tough life and I wonder if a community of faith couldn't work in some kind of way to make their lives get restarted a little easier.

But I also think a metric I would like to see us get measured on is our own growth as disciples. Clearly, we need to be more intentional in how we go about furthering our knowledge of the bible and the theological discourse surrounding it.

Is her question also a way of asking us: where are you willing to be held accountable? Why do we resist accountability so vigorously? I don't mean all of us, but many. Is there some theological issue we are wrestling with that says "I don't want to be held accountable for very much".

I am going to ponder that ...