December 26, 2016 - Sunday was Christmas morning. Our Gospel lessons came from the two Gospel that have a miracle birth story. Over the centuries we have combined Matthew’s and Luke’s narratives to come up with the Christmas story that most are familiar with. But the accounts are different in many ways. The Matthew Gospel was probably written around 80 CE, in or around the Jewish homeland. It is the most “Jewish” of the four canonical Gospels because the audience was Jewish. The Luke Gospel was written later and probably by a Gentile convert. Both stories point to the wondrous and the divine; we should embrace them both despite their variations. The anonymous writers of the four Gospels never intended them to be read literally—they were proclamations of good news. Only later did the Gentile converts begin to believe that these writings might be literal and historical.
We had a nice crowd at Paxton on Christmas morning. We didn’t have Sunday school, so we all started gathering a little before 10:00. Laura and Joe joined us this morning. We hope Susan is feeling better real soon. My kids, Megan and Jacob, also attended. We missed Joy, Gene, Carolyn, Joe, and the others that are traveling at Christmas.
Sue read the Gospel Lessons that came from both Matthew and Luke. Christmas is a celebration of love and family: Mary and Joseph, we are told, were such devoted parents. Fanny Crosby is well known for her songs, but most people don’t know her Christmas carol called “Glad Tidings.” I read that missionaries introduced that song to the Hawaiian Islands, and it remains one of the most popular Christmas songs in Hawaii. The only YouTube version I found was accompanied by a ukulele! Another unusual hymn I used in my sermon was a country western one called “Would They Love Him Down in Shreveport Today?” containing the lyrics “Would the rich men think it funny if he said give up your money?/ Would they love him up on Wall Street today?”
For most of our married life, Sue, the kids, and I went to one of our parents at Thanksgiving and then the other set at Christmas. In the last many years we always went to Dallas and spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with my mother, brother, and sister-in-law. After my children graduated, they both ended up in Dallas. Sue’s mom never put much store in specific dates and was happy when we came, regardless. My mother died this year, so we stayed put and Megan and Jacob came to Joaquin for Christmas. It was really nice. Our nephew and his family came from Nacogdoches on Christmas, and we had a real Christmas at home.
Megan brought her wonderful dog, Stella. The Granddog stayed with us for almost a year while Megan had her older home completely remodeled. Our dogs were happy to see their playmate as will her grandparents—Sue and I! I received a letter from my aunt and uncle from Maine—I don’t think they could imagine 70 degree weather on Christmas day. On Christmas Eve I walked the dogs in blue jeans and a T-shirt, although just a few days ago it was in the low twenties. The weather in East Texas is unpredictable except for the sweltering summers that never forget to show their face.
It is hard to believe that another New Year is almost here. We get to say goodbye to 2016 which was a strange year, to say the least. I guess every year has it share of the neat and the weird. Paxton Methodist and other volunteers still plan to make the rounds to the various nursing homes in 2017. Ms. Hilda does such a wonderful job bringing people together for visits, fellowship, and song. Our first visit will be to Green Acres January 2 at 2:00. Then on Tuesday, January 17th we will head to Holiday. On Thursday, January 26th we will go to Lakeside. During the month of January we will collect cans of tuna for the food bank at Community Christian Services.
“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 9:30 and Worship begins at 10:00. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!