August 10, 2020 - Grace and peace from our brother Jesus, Amen. Sunday was the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time. We have had more rain, slightly cooler temperatures, and lower humidity the last week or so—but that is changing. The temperatures are reaching the high nineties, and the air is really thick. A relatively mild August was too good to last.
For many years, this was when Sue and I geared up for the beginning of another school year. We are especially enjoying our retirement this year and would hate to have to make decisions on how to start a school year in the Covid pandemic. I saw the school parking lots full of cars here in Joaquin as the staff was getting ready to welcome the kids back on August 10th. But then I read Friday night that a staff member tested positive and that the school district was going to start the year remotely. Some are probably sighing with relief, while others are saying, “Here we go again.” Our hearts go out to them all.
Our Sunday School lesson was a difficult one, as it dealt with the radical hospitality of God. The word hospitality in Greek context refers to someone who has a love of strangers. Jesus certainly showed this love in the scripture for our Sunday School lesson about the Samaritan woman at the well. There had been distrust and dislike between Jews and Samaritans for generations. Our author said it was regrettable that prejudice and racism still separate people. He went on to say that some individuals or groups of people somehow conclude that they are better and more deserving than others. His point of view, by contrast, is that racism and other forms of discrimination are ugly and have no place in the body of Christ.
The Gospel lesson for Sunday came from Matthew 14: 22-33. In this story, a favorite of many, we see Jesus walking on water: Peter steps out of the boat in faith but weakens and must be rescued by Jesus, who calms the waters. Mark and John also have a story of Jesus calming the waters, but only Matthew tells of Peter stepping out. Luke doesn’t have this story at all. Our Old Testament Lesson was 1 Kings 19: 9-19, where we see Elijah having a close encounter with God. It doesn’t come accompanied by winds, earthquakes, or fire. Instead God comes to Elijah as “a softly whispering voice.” This mystical experience reminds us that God can appear to us in the most ordinary of circumstances if we have honed our spiritual eyesight and hearing.
All month long we will be collecting children’s underclothes and socks for Community Christian Services. Christian Services has collected these items at the beginning of the school year for thirty years. We hope and pray that everyone will be careful and safe during this deadly pandemic. We need to stay home as much as possible and at least six feet from others when we are out. And of course, we should wear masks in public. Health officials say that if we all wear masks, we can save over 70,000 lives between now and the end of the year. We need to care enough to help out.
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, and Open Minds.” 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 your email address to the Paxton email address, and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed.
Randy & Sue Smith/Paxton United Methodist Church