February 1, 2017 - Last week we celebrated the baptism of Jesus. This Sunday, the 4th Sunday after the Epiphany, Jesus has called his disciples. In our Gospel lesson from Matthew, Jesus begins to describe the people of the Kingdom. His “Sermon on the Mount” is Jesus’ manifesto to kingdom living. There is a similar story in Luke called the “Sermon on the Plains.” Matthew’s telling is more difficult to understand because it is so Jewish. Jesus, like the Prophet Micah and John the Baptizer, has a problem with the Temple and those who run it.
Seven hundred years before Jesus spoke from the mount, Micah warned the people of Judah that they were not living righteously as God requires. The emphasis of Micah and later, of Jesus was on righteous living. Is righteous living fulfilled by temple worship and sacrifices? Is righteousness attained by tithing or attending religious festivals and holy days? These might be outward signs of righteousness, but one is actually righteous who is just, full of mercy and love, and walking humbly with God. These are not suggestions—this is what is required to live in God today, tomorrow, and for all eternity.
Our Sunday school lesson once again was a hymn of praise from the hymnbook of the Jewish people—The Psalms. The lesson title was All Creation Praises God. Ms. Fannie divided up the hymn so we read the hymn responsively. The week before Fannie divided up the lesson and Joe and I added our thoughts to one section of the lesson. The writer had a great love of music and related praise to music. My section of the lesson dealt with jazz. Before a jazz musician can improvise on the music he must first master the fundamentals. This is also true in faith. Joe said he wasn’t as knowledgeable as the author about music so he related his section of the lesson to science. All in all our time in Sunday school went by very quickly. As Sunday school was coming to an end people started coming in for worship. It was so nice to have Susan Whiddon worship with us Sunday. We had a good crowd for Paxton this morning and our worship attendance so far in 2017 is higher than 2016!
I went to Lufkin last Tuesday for my yearly interview with our District Superintendent. This was my first time to the new District Office. It was very nice and certainly a step up from their old digs. It was so nice to see Vetta and Vonnie who run the office. It was like seeing old friends that you don’t see that often. This was my first official meeting with Rev. Tony Vinson who has been our DS since summer. I had met him at the Charge Conference in Center but this was the first chance to have a real conversation. We discussed the strength of Paxton in mission and in finances and if the church is agreeable Rev. Vinson is going to appoint me to another year at Paxton.
Last week, the crew went to Lakeside to present the monthly program. I was sick all day, so Maggie Casto was “anointed” Mistress of Ceremonies, a task she’s quite good at. The singing was led by Nora and Laura, who also joined Gene Casto for a couple of specials. Nora and Laura read—Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors” and poems from the Bible and Wordsworth. Fannie read and told a joke. Sue, who forgot to bring her reading material, ended up adlibbing her Name Report from her English 2 teaching days. Spoiler alert: She wasn’t named Gloria, didn’t have long blond hair and big blue eyes—instead getting stuck with curly brown hair, brown eyes, and “Susan.”
“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 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!