January 23, 2017 - Last week we celebrated the baptism of Jesus. This Sunday, the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany, Jesus calls Peter, Andrew, James, and John to become his first disciples. John the Baptizer is in prison; Jesus picks up the mantle, calling upon people to prepare for the coming Kingdom of Heaven. The radical call and the radical response by the four fishermen served as the Gospel for this Sunday. The response by the four was radical in that they immediately answered the call. They walked away from the way they made a living. They also walked away from their comfort zone—their families and their community. Few people are willing to make that kind of sacrifice to become disciples.
I read an article where the writer says he is not a “fan” of Jesus, which really grabbed my attention. The writer is astounded that 75% percent of Americans—some 223,000,000 people—say they are Christians. If this is indeed the case, then how can so many people go to bed hungry every night? Why are so many children ignored? The writer decides that most people who call themselves Christians are really just “fans of Jesus.” They like the story of Jesus. They certainly want their tickets punched for Heaven. But to be a disciple—that simply requires too much. I think between disciples and fans are the vast majority of Christians who try to be followers. We try to follow in the footsteps of the master, but we find such an adventure very difficult.
Our Sunday School was special in many ways. First, Pat Pate came this morning, and we were all so happy to see her. Pat taught with Sue and me for a long, long time and remains one of our best friends. Secondly, Ms. Fannie sang the beginning of Psalm 104. Joe sang the next part, and then the entire class sang the last of the Psalm that was printed in our lesson. It was a great way to rejoice at God’s goodness, although singing isn’t the greatest talent of so many of us.
We were in double digits this morning—always something to celebrate with such a small congregation as Paxton. Joe and Laura, our “newbies,” as my sister-in-law said upon meeting them, came to church this morning. Pat knew most of the folks at Paxton already and was introduced to those she didn’t know. We received a letter from First Baptist Joaquin thanking the Paxton church for our financial and personal support in providing Christmas gifts to young folks in the community.
Our Paxton ministry served Holiday Nursing Center last week. Hilda, Fannie, Sue, Nora, and the preacher visited friends, shared stories, and sang songs. The weather had been steady rain for several days, but Thursday afternoon the rains slowed and the sun came out. We are looking forward to our outreach at Lakeside Village this coming Thursday at 2:00. Many of our volunteers are Paxton members, but others just have that desire to bring cheer to our friends and neighbors.
In November there was a wreck out in front of our house. It was rainy weather and a car hydroplaned, leaving the road and taking out two large bushes, our street sign, the State’s “55mph sign,” hitting our culvert and flipping over. Luckily, all were safely buckled in, so no one was hurt. This past week I went to a sign shop in Center to order a new street sign. The gentleman who waited on me and I got into a long conversation about people we both know. Ms. Margie Dorner, who we all know from our visits to Lakeside, came in. Turns out she is his mother, and we had one of those “small world” visits.
“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!