July 3, 2016 - Sunday was the 7th Sunday after Pentecost. Monday, July 4th is our nation’s Independence Day. If these first days of July are any indication, July 4th is going to be a hot one. But we live in Texas, so we have to expect it to be hot. We have so much to be thankful for as citizens of the United States. We are sometimes a divided nation, but I think we concentrate too much on what divides us and forget all that binds us together. We as a nation have overcome much for two plus centuries. In the third verse of America the Beautiful the song writer says, “God mend thine every flaw.” This applies not only to our nation but all citizens of this great nation.
Our Sunday school lesson was titled Ignoring God’s Truth Within Us. The scripture was from Romans 2: 17-29. Already in the first generation of the Jesus Movement there were divisions. The most contentious was between Jewish and Gentile Jesus followers. One of the constants in both the Hebrew Scriptures (our Old Testament) and the New Testament of first century Jesus followers is the human being. We humans tend to be slow learners—except we are quick to judge and quick to get angry. I read our lesson in the Wesley Study Bible, which included an added piece about Wesley, the founder of Methodism, having his heart “strangely warmed” and knowing that God loved him: The Bible Study group he was attending was dealing with Martin Luther’s study of the book of Romans.
In the last chapter in his letter to the Galatians, St. Paul tells the people that they will harvest what they plant. This is still true today. If you plant hatred and bigotry, those will be your harvest. What I think has always been a problem for people is that we are way too often so busy that we don’t take time to water our spiritual needs. Howard Rice says people have always been beset by the twin aches of living. There is a sense of cosmic loneliness without God and there is a yawning sense of meaninglessness without some sense of the Divine. But it takes time and effort to live Kingdom lives and to make that central to your everyday living.
What a great group we had this Sunday! Gene and Joy’s son Chuck, his wife Kim, and their son Austin were here to celebrate July 4th and came to Sunday school and church. Lilly, Liz, and Mike were also up from Houston. Lilly is beautiful as always, and it warmed my heart to see all of them. We celebrated Holy Communion this Sunday. For the last several communion services, I have been using a different liturgy. I really like it, as it is so inviting and also spot-on about the idea that taking communion can be a transformative moment.
Sue and I have travelled in June to Chicago and to Louisiana, Missouri. We had a family reunion in Chicago, and then a week later we had another family reunion in Louisiana. The little town of Louisiana is right on the mighty Mississippi just south of Hannibal—Mark Twain country. When we got home from the last reunion we washed clothes one day and headed to Dallas the next. My daughter was moving her “stuff” into her new home. The renovation has taken longer than anyone expected, and the contractors are not quite through. But the end is in sight!
While Sue and I were gone, the church and other volunteers met at Lakeside for our monthly ministry. Earlier in the week, the group also had a program at Holiday. Pastor Matt, Minnie, Hilda, Nora, and Sylvia were there to provide songs and stories. I really admire the dedication of the volunteers and know that the residents enjoy this special time.
“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 9:15 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!