January 10, 2021 - Grace and peace from our brother Jesus, Amen. Sunday was Baptism of Our Lord Sunday on the Christian calendar, the day to celebrate the baptism of Jesus by John. We have officially ended the Christmas season with the Epiphany—the 12th Night. I waited until the end of the twelve days of Christmas to take down the tree and the decorations; now our living room is back to normal. We at Paxton Methodist wish everyone a great New Year.
We certainly have had plenty of rain this past week. Snow is predicted for Sunday and early Monday morning. With the cold fronts that moved through along with the dampness from the rains, it feels really cold. But that doesn’t stop Gunter, Sam, and me from heading to the City Park each morning. I go to walk two miles. They go to sniff, run, and chase each other. It has become a routine, a good thing because I can so often talk myself out of doing what is good for me. My daughter gave me her old Fitbit, so I now monitor my steps trying to get in 10,000 steps each day. I have felt satisfaction reaching my goal daily.
Paxton Methodist is having in-person worship; we respect each other by wearing masks and keeping socially distant. Scientists and medical professionals say that we can do three simple things before the vaccines are generally available: To curtail the spread of Covid-19, we should wash our hands regularly, stay at least 6 feet apart—social distancing, and yes, wear a mask. Things are so dire that mask-wearing is the patriotic thing to do. It is also the Christian thing to do, loving your neighbor as you love yourself. Also, as soon as you can, get vaccinated against this scourge—twice.
We want to be as safe as we can. Since we resumed in-person worship, our music has been on CD. We can hum the song under our masks but no vigorous singing! Our hymn this morning was Alan Jackson’s “When We All Get to Heaven.” To accompany our study of the Creation, we had “What a Wonderful World” by Louie Armstrong.
With help from Gene, our church treasurer, I submitted our End-of-Year Reports to the District and Conference. I mailed the signature page to the District, and now we can start looking toward this new year’s missions and projects. During the month of January, Paxton Methodist will be collecting cans of tuna for Community Christian Services.
Pastors and churches in the Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church received a letter from Bishop Jones, addressing the attack on the Capitol building this past week and the accompanying violence and death. I will print his letter in the weekly Paxton newsletter.
Our Sunday School lesson used Luke 7: 11-18 as its scripture. John the Baptizer sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask him if he was the one people had been waiting for. Jesus didn’t give them a straight answer but told them to follow him, see what he did, and then report back to John. The author of our lesson reminded us to allow the Kingdom of God to break into the world. He goes on to say that we experience the Kingdom through life changes and through our relationships with others. The arc of justice certainly is long, but in time the world will see the truth behind the teachings of our Lord.
My wife Sue serves as the liturgist for the church: She read the Old Testament lesson for Sunday from Genesis 1: 1-5. This is one of the two creation stories found in the early chapters of the first book. The Scripture is so beautiful, reminding us not to take for granted the amazing world that God began and is still creating. The Gospel lesson was Mark 4: 1-11. All four Gospels speak of John baptizing Jesus, but the Mark version is the oldest of the four. With our own baptism we are invited to be part of God’s creative process as God is still speaking, still creating, still healing, and still loving.
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.