December 3, 2018 - Sunday was the First Sunday of Advent. The church really looked festive this morning. Joy and Gene bought a new Christmas tree full of lights. Joy, Gene, and Carolyn decorated the tree. Ms. Fannie bought poinsettias and placed them along the communion rail. Sue and I noticed the manger scene in front of the church when we drove back from Nacogdoches. It is really starting to feel like Christmas!
We started the winter quarter in our Sunday School lessons. Last quarter the author provided more questions than answers, which probably is a good thing. I always like to find the page of the new lesson book with the picture and biography of the writer. This one is a retired minister and a writer. The first lesson, “Love and Devotion,” featured Deuteronomy 6: 1-9. Included in the scripture is the Shema, a prayer to be said several times a day: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength.” The author reminded us that Jesus said this was the most important commandment and added that the way to love God is to love our fellow human beings.
We have begun a new liturgical year in Christianity. Our focus is preparing ourselves so that we can live Kingdom lives. We are fast approaching the birth of John and then, of course, the birth of Jesus. The scripture from Luke sounded pretty scary. It is apocalyptic literature that speaks of the end of an age and the dawning of a new one. Our hope is that this new time will be one of peace and justice, with the ways of the Christ paramount in our lives.
With the Church Conference and Charge Conference complete, my attention looks back on 2018. In fine Methodist tradition, End-of-Year Reports detail what the local church has done in the past year. Much of the report deals with finances, and I have the able assistance of our church treasurer Gene, who keeps very good records. Later this month, I will have my yearly meeting with our District Superintendent, Dr White, in Lufkin. Since I was not raised in the Methodist Church, all these reports and meetings were new to me. But in my 20th year as a Methodist minister, I am finally catching on! Larry has been doing research in old Shreveport Times and found an article from 1910 about a Quarterly Conference that was held in Tenaha. I guess I need to stop my complaining about yearly reports!
Last week was our program at Lakeside Assisted Living, postponed because of Thanksgiving. We had many participants—ones who live there and ones we brought. Mrs. Hilda played the piano for all the congregational singing, about half of which was from the Christmas section. I stepped in as emcee, and Pastor Matt did the “preacher parts.” Sallie, Stellar, and Gene all sang specials. Nora still hasn’t “found” her (singing) voice, so she read a patriotic essay her niece had written. Fannie told us about the writing and performing of “God Bless America,” followed by Gene leading us in the actual song. Sue read “Everything I Know About Christmas I Learned from a Little Golden Book.” As usual, it was lovely to have Margie join us; we missed Jo, whose fracture is giving her trouble.
During the month of December we will collect cans of soup for Community Christian Services. Paxton Methodist sent money to First Baptist Joaquin to buy Christmas gifts for young folks in the community, and Sue and I adopted an Angel Tree child. The Paxton Christmas Party is Thursday, December 13th at 6pm: program first, followed by a potluck meal. We hope to see you there!
Whoever you are, in whatever faith you were born, whatever creed you profess; if you come to this house to find God you are welcome here.” Paxton United Methodist Church is an inviting church that takes to heart the idea of “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds.” Sunday School starts at 9:30am and Worship begins at 10am. Our email address is email@example.com.
If you would like the weekly email newsletter about Paxton Methodist you can send me your email address to the Paxton email address and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed.
Randy & Sue Smith
Paxton Methodist Church