Meeting Times at 4th United Presbyterian Church

Cafe' Worship: 9:15 a.m. each Sunday in Gathering Hall (activities provided for children; coffee; snacks)
Adult Sunday School: 10 a.m.

Sunday Worship: 11 a.m.

Bible Study: each Thursday at 6 p.m.

Community Forum: last Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. with meal (no community forum in November, 2011)

About the 4th United Presbyterian Bible Blog

Posts on this blog are from me, Rev. George H. Waters, one of the two organizing co-pastors of 4th United Presbyterian Church. Our other organizing pastor was Rev. Sonya McAuley-Allen, who is now pastor of a church in Charlotte, N.C. Since June of 2011, Rev. Elizabeth Peterson has been our parish associate pastor for new church development. The earliest posts are sermon notes from the few I have typed the last two years. Then, there is a series of notes posted on the book of Romans. After that, it varies from week to week, sometimes church news, sometimes reflections on a happening, a passage of scripture, or even some pictures. This blog is meant to open the conversation we have going on in our church to others in our community.

The picture below is of our church's sanctuary, built in 1913.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rebuilding Our Lives

Monday, September 6, 2010
Rebuilding Our Lives

It seems to me that we have been given the chance of rebuilding our lives as human beings. I like the Psalm that says: "Unless the Lord builds the house, the labor is in vain." That makes me think about how much help is needed in rebuilding a human life. "Unless the Lord builds the house, the labor is in vain." Somehow we need to find our way to resources beyond what we have in our little thoughts and feelings. We need more than that to rebuild our lives.

The very hopeful thing spiritually is that in faith a person can really go back and look at the foundation of his or her life. Faith gives us access to the depths of life, and enables us to rebuild. Our little thoughts and feelings can be transformed into very powerful thoughts and feelings.

Rebuilding can be a difficult work. Because when you rebuild, you have to tear down and clean out before you can put the new structure in. As we were working to renovate our old church building, we discovered termite damage in the wood structure around the lower level of the building. Fortunately, there were no active termites, since we had treated the entire area when we first moved into this old buiding a year earlier. But, because of the damage, we had to tear out the old wood structure of two entire rooms before we could rebuild. But, now that area is rebuilt.

Our lives can be like this. If we really get in there and inspect them, we may find some damage to the structure of our lives. We may even find forces active in breaking down the foundation of our lives. For years and years at the old church building, nobody inspected to see what the condition of things was. All the while, the termites were doing their destructive work. And, then upstairs in the building, a similar process was going on with damage from moisture from roof problems. Ignorance may be bliss, but the problem with ignorance is that it is out of touch with reality. When we aren't in touch with reality, we cannot act to shape reality or reshape it by our work.

In our lives, we probably need the most help in discovering the reality we are in. We need God's illumination in our souls to be able to see who we are, acknowledge where we have been, and grow into a hope for what we can be. But, we first have to go down to that basement of our lives and find out how the structure is. If termites are active down there, they will continue doing their damage until we get down there and do something to stop it. And, if we do stop it, then there is still a damaged foundation which has to be rebuilt.

I am talking figuratively, and I'll say a few things literally to make sure I'm being clear. If the foundation of your life - your own emotional life, your spiritual life - is in turmoil, then there have been destructive forces at work in your past or there are destructive forces at work in your present. Symptoms of these destructive forces are the presence of negative, self-destructive thoughts within. You may have aided or be aiding these destructive forces through alcohol or drug abuse or drawing near to destructive persons or by nurturing self-condemnatory thought patterns. Or, you may be increasing your trouble, because you just plain won't take responsibility for the trouble you're in. And, you may just have some trouble, because life has handed you some hard luck.

Whatever it is, you are responsible for your life. I'm going to say that again: whether you have done it to yourself or someone else has done it to you or some force in the physical world, like disease has done it to you, it is your life and you are responsible for it. That means, it is yours to work with, to bear and to do the best you can with. And, we can help each other bear this responsibility.

In contemporary thought, people are obsessed with blaming - they want to affix blame. But, it doesn't help. What is really missing in our world is people being willing to take responsibility. People who take responsibility for situations, take an active role in working towards resolving problems and building towards a better life and future. In a family, if something goes wrong or one member is having trouble, everyone feels a certain responsibility to act. Sure, the one who is having trouble has the primary responsibility, but others look at the other's trouble as partly their responsibility too and don't sit around blaming. Taking responsibility is a practical, objective way of approaching life and its challenges. This is the way of going down to the basement, seeing what the damage is, assessing it objectively and saying: "Let's get to work on it." That's how you fix things. Not by simply wishing you didn't have a problem, or not by complaining about your trouble - but, by looking at it for what it is, and figuring out how to get to work on it.

Rebuilding is difficult work. But, when you get something rebuilt, it is an even greater joy than building it from scratch. Because, you have the sense that something very precious has been saved and transformed. Even the mess that we are at times remains a precious human mess that is worth saving and rebuilding.


  1. This is very true. Rebuilding anything takes time, patience and a drive to see it to completion. Sometimes we invite termites into our lives--the people who tend to destroy us from the inside out or seek to change your character and thought process.

  2. Yes. It is an ongoing challenge in life to figure out just where we are, what the forces are that are influencing and directing our lives. We have to find that bedrock inside, deep down in us, and stay in touch with that or else we have no clear perspective from which to view what is going on both inside us and outside us. If we can't see clearly what the forces are, then we may be making choices to invite disorder and sickness into our lives even when we think we are just responding in a reasonable way to our situations.