January 25, 2021 - Grace and peace from our brother Jesus, Amen. Sunday was the 3rd Sunday of the Epiphany. In many churches, Sunday was a celebration of our American diversity and the freedom we have to worship as we wish. I feel strongly that the various faiths are a wonderful thing and that all these voices worshiping are pleasing to God.
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.
Our Sunday School lesson was based on Romans 8: 31-39, which are some of the most reassuring and comforting words found in the Early Christian Testament. Paul tells us that “there is no power that can keep that love—God’s love—from us.” Yes, nothing can ever separate us from God’s love seen in Jesus the Christ. We were all puzzled over where the writer seemed to go from there. After we receive such complete assurances, we are reminded that it is difficult to feel that love; in addition, we must continue to ask God to “increase [my] faith.” But as he wrapped up, he spoke of the hope that must be the cornerstone of our faith.
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 first song was the lively hymn, “Lord of the Dance,” sung by Donovan. It tells Jesus’ story, set to the Shaker music for “’Tis a Gift to be Simple.” The second hymn was the inspiring “Here I Am Lord,” sung by a group from Highland Park UMC in Dallas.
The Old Testament lesson for the 3rd Sunday of the Epiphany is about Jonah. He is lumped in with the Prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures—but if Jonah is a prophet, he is certainly the most reluctant prophet there ever was! This is in stark contrast to Jesus’ call to Simon, Andrew, James, and John. These four disciples of John the Baptizer were invited by Jesus to travel with him: With little fanfare or any second guessing, they followed. Jonah ran; the four fishermen followed. At times, we humans are Jonah, and other times we are like those brothers.
Plenty has changed in 2021, but unfortunately, too much sorrow and sadness from 2020 has continued into the New Year. Predictions are that by the end of February 500,000 of our fellow Americans will have died from this awful pandemic. In our weakest moments we wonder if it will ever end, but in our most hopeful of moments we dream of things being better. Please continue to take precautions—for yourself and for others!
Community Christian Services has continued its mission work all through the pandemic with grace and compassion. Those needing a hand don’t get out of their cars as volunteers load them up with care packages of food. We at Paxton try to do our little part by collecting goods and giving checks each month. This month we are donating cans of tuna. In February, we will collect soap and shampoo.
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 email@example.com.
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.