March 8, 2016 - Sunday was the Fourth Sunday in Lent, a time of reflection in Christian communities for nearly two thousand years. I am preaching a series of sermons on the last week of Jesus, ending on that long-ago Easter Sunday. Last Sunday, the one we call Palm Sunday, the scriptures from Mark dealt with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The other procession coming into the city was Pontius Pilate’s. He had been given two main jobs by Rome—collecting taxes and maintaining the peace. So the Roman governor left his seaside resort and came with reinforcements to keep the Jewish people under control on the important holiday of Passover.
The Mark Gospel, the oldest Gospel in the Bible, gives us a time line if we are alert to it while we are reading. My sermon dealt with Holy Monday. Mark says, “On the following day…” so we know that Jesus and his followers left Bethany and headed back to Jerusalem. The most significant event that day was Jesus chasing out the money changers and other salesmen. Mark makes it pretty clear that this wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision by our Lord. He first cursed a fig tree for not bearing fruit. If like me, you take the Bible seriously but not literally, you understand that the fig tree represents symbolically all that was wrong with the Temple system. Then he headed for a showdown in the Temple yard.
On Sunday we celebrated Holy Communion. The Service of Communion and Remembrance begins with a quote from the medieval mystic, Teresa of Avila. “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
Our new Sunday school lessons come from the New Testament and deal with prayer. The author provides many differing ways we can understand prayer. Prayer is the sort of thing that can’t be judged. No one can come up with the only correct forms of prayer. Our author reminds us that an important component of prayer is silence, listening for God in the quiet.
We had two birthdays this past Sunday. Liz Ideker and Larry McNeill share March 6 as their birthday. The congregation sang Happy Birthday. Joe was off to the lake with son Ben, and Hilda was visiting. So Gene was our song leader, and Sue played the CDs. We have the complete Methodist Hymnal on CD and we sang two familiar songs.
We were sad to hear of the death of Gloria’s brother Barkley Bowlin. Mr. Bowlin would often join us in singing when he was a resident of Pine Grove. Bill Skinner of Joaquin also died this past Friday. Bill was a member of Joaquin Methodist since 1953. His memorial service was Sunday afternoon, and Rev. Ortigo and I officiated the service.
"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 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!