1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23
I have heard a number of statistics concerning stresses and strains on a marriage. Ironically, the number one stress on a marriage is not money issues, or working shifts, or children. The number one stress on a marriage is building a house. I don’t know how many of you have had the pleasure of building a home, but apparently the constant need for decisions on all the various levels; from structure, to perk tests, to painting, to literally the kitchen sink; can be extremely taxing on anyone. You also learn how important accurate communication can be. What we assume our contractor understands and what we expect may in fact be very different things.
I wanted to share a scene from a classic Cary Grant/Myrna Loy movie called, “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House”. This particular scene shows an interesting conversation between the Blandings’ contractor and Mrs. Blandings concerning the paint colors for different areas of the house. [Show Movie] It seems there is a slight disparity in what Mrs. Blandings expects and what the contractor hears.
Paul speaks about building on the only true foundation – Jesus Christ. Any builder will tell you, if the foundation is not secure the building will not stand the tests of time and weather. If the foundation begins to crack the building may never recover. If the foundation caves in the building will fall – it is an inevitable certainty. Our goal as a church built on the solid rock of Jesus Christ is to not lose that foundation. Our purpose is to uphold the foundation of our faith which is the love and saving grace of Jesus – son of God and son of Man.
Some of you may know the story of a famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, and his design of the second Imperial Hotel in Japan. As you know, Japan suffers from numerous earthquakes, so Wright designed this hotel to be built on a foundation that would allow the hotel to float on the site’s alluvial mud “as a battleship floats on water.” The foundation was shallow with broad footings. If you can picture a cement slab with footers sinking below at frequent intervals, which would allow the building to float, that is what this intent was for the hotel. This structure famously survived the Great Kanto earthquake on September 1, 1923, with a magnitude of 7.9. However the building was in fact damaged. The shallow foundation proved inadequate to support the building and it began sinking into the mud. Apparently the alluvial mud has a tendency to amplify seismic waves, proving the foundation too shallow to withstand the fierce conditions. [source: Wikipedia.org]
How’s our foundation? Do we need to go deeper in our relationship with our cornerstone, Jesus? We are guaranteed times of struggle and heartache – do we turn to our source of strength during those times or do we rely on our own will and determination? As a church body, are we clinging to the source of our strength and guidance or are we trying to do things on our own?
Some of you were here when the original church building burned down. I can only imagine the devastation and sense of loss. I can imagine the ‘what now?’ questions that were raised. I suspect there was a lot of praying going on. Our friends of the Andrew the Fisherman Episcopal Church shared their worship space with us. Let’s face it, things were pretty ugly, very scary, and immensely unsettling.
But somewhere, out of the ashes, rose another building. Somewhere out of the trials and heartache came a renewed sense of hope. Somewhere out of the midst of fear came the assurance that we would rebuild on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ. The church body of Mayo United Methodist Church had a purpose and a direction, a focus that would lead them to not only construct this building but add on a new wing to better meet the needs of the community.
Today, our fellowship hall sees a lot of activity all week long. Our nursery school wing is a constant flurry of activity. Even our music room is used regularly during the week for AA meetings. The FPU class just began using a back classroom for meeting space. We are working daily to meet the needs of our community and for that we can give thanks to God for God’s blessings to us, amen?
Where we are today as a congregation, was made possible by maintaining a focus on Jesus Christ. If we ever lose that focus, we will be a building toppling over or caving in when the next earthquake hits. Our ability to feed the hungry, help our neighbors with their electric bills, give kids a sense of hope that someone cares about them – all that is dependent on our reliance and focus on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This building is important, but this building is not the church. This building brings hope to many, but this building is not the witness of the power of Jesus Christ in our lives. This building is unique, but it is nothing without a body of Christ working together to build a strong and purposeful foundation of the beautiful message of God’s love for all of us.
This week we celebrated Valentine’s day – a day to honor our loved ones. The history of Valentine’s Day is interesting in that the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death [source: history.com.] I’m not sure how that evolved to a quest for heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, but there it is!
The love we share with one another is only a fraction of the love God has for each of us. God loved us so much that God sent his only son to bear the sins of the world so that we would not perish but have eternal life.
I wanted you to have this little keepsake to remind you of God’s unfathomable love for each of us. The most quoted scripture of all time fits rather nicely into this valentine. Since I missed the actual holiday it’s laminated to pull out and maybe put on your fridge or something. Sometimes I think we need to be reminded that we are loved. Sometimes I think we need to be reminded that we are valued beyond measure, as the God of all felt we were worthy of the gift of God’s son Jesus. Sometimes we need to be reminded that love truly does conquer all – To quote Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
I wanted to leave you with this gospel song called “I’m Working on a Building.”
I’m working on the building
It’s a true foundation
I’m holding up the blood-stained
Banner for my lord
Well I never get tired, tired, tired of working on the building
I’m going up to heaven to get my reward
I pray your hold our time together today as a reminder of our need to stay firmly grounded in the love of Jesus, our cornerstone. If we can do that, then another song comes to mind – you probably know it as one of my favorites by now: “On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.” Amen.