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Message for worship at West Richmond Friends Meeting, 26th of Ninth Month, 2021


Speaker: Gretchen Castle


Scripture: Psalm 139:1-18 & 22-24; Romans 8:38-39 (NRSV)


O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed. How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! I try to count them—they are more than the sand; I come to the end—I am still with you.

Psalm 139:1-18


I hate them with perfect hatred;

I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my thoughts.

See if there is any wicked way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:22-24


For I am convinced that neither death,

nor life, nor angels, nor rulers,

nor things present, nor things to come,

nor powers, nor height, nor depth,

nor anything else in all creation,

will be able to separate us from

the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39




Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

  • It is indeed a blessing to be here with you this morning at West Richmond.

  • It is indeed a blessing to be among Friends this Sunday morning, as it is a blessing to work among Friends every day of the week.

  • It is a blessing and a privilege to be part of the global Quaker family – my own little part of a great big piece of connective tissue.

  • It is a blessing to be working at the roots and around the world on issues of peace and justice and climate change and all of that – right along side everybody who wants to see a better world, and as Quakers do so well – I really love how we never stop – we never give up – and we keep marching toward that Light that we can see.


But (breathe) I want to take this blessings theme down a notch – and say actually, I woke up this morning, I opened my eyes and saw the sun peaking through my window. So I slid my feet over the edge of the bed, I sat up, and when my feet touched the floor, I knew I was alive and I thanked God allowing me to see another day. This Day! I am here. Here. Here at home in Richmond.


I was born in Richmond, in Reid Memorial Hospital – yes, the old hospital, otherwise I would be considerably younger! My father, David Castle was pastor of First Friends Church, yes, the old church, otherwise, again, I would be considerably younger! But I did love the old brick parsonage there and even though I was 5 years old when we left, I can draw a house plan from memory. It was home.


I attended Stout Nursery School. I remember tobogganing down what seemed like a big hill at the time and is barely distinguishable as a hill today. Surely the hill has shrunk since then! My family moved to Indianapolis and then Iowa, but I returned to Earlham and thoroughly enjoyed my four years here. One of many great memories was again sledding down a great hill, this time, in the cemetery on food service trays which we nicked from the dining hall as soon as the snow began to fall. Coming to Earlham was also coming home.


I was very happy providing a home for my growing children. We had an old stone farmhouse, and I delighted in filling it and surrounding us with precious things. In the yard under a big pine tree, my daughters created what they called ‘the Ground House’, which provided hours of creativity and fun. They made their own little home, complete with garden and rooms.


We all have memories of home, of making spaces our own, of finding what we need when we need it to feel a sense of belonging and comfort. Whether from our childhood and/or later of our own creation, we find ways to feel safe, to welcome others into our lives, and to settle into an inner peace and contentedness.


So, I have come home to Richmond. Delighted to rekindle friendships and memories and connections with those who knew my family. It is very precious, indeed.