May 3, 2021 - Grace and peace from our brother Jesus. Sunday was the 5th Sunday of Easter. Springtime has come to East Texas! The temperatures have warmed into the 80s, and we have had plenty of spring rain. My garden looks so good. I notice when I am driving around how pretty people’s roses are this year. My roses have been fantastic. I don’t know if it is really true, but it seems that the best-smelling roses have the most and meanest thorns (should be a life lesson in there somewhere).
Since we resumed in-person worship, our music has been on CD. We can hum under our masks, but no vigorous singing! This week our songs were related to each other. We started with “Song of Joy,” by Julio Iglesias. I heard it for the first time while in the car heading to Louisiana, Missouri, many summers ago and liked it so much my daughter found a CD for me. As you can tell from the title, Iglesias’ song is based on “Ode to Joy,” AKA “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee,” that is in the Methodist Hymnal. The words were written by Henry Van Dyke and put to the music of Beethoven. The two songs made nice “bookends” in our service.
Our Sunday School lesson was from Exodus 33 & 34, where we are treated to conversations between God and Moses. We see that Moses feels comfortable speaking to God about his questions, doubts, and fears. Our author says that one of the key themes in the Bible is God’s faithful presence. The risen Christ of Easter assures us that God will always be at our side in our living as well as our dying.
We are marching toward the Day of Pentecost. This religious holy day comes to us from our spiritual foremothers and forefathers of Judaism. These fifty days leading to Pentecost, referred to as Eastertide, give us a chance to explore the meaning, not only of death and resurrection, but also of God that we see in Jesus. When we sense God in Christ, we realize that God has everything to do with compassion and empathy. In my sermon I continued to focus on John’s first letter, Chapter 4: 7-21. Last week I tried to speak to what God is like. John the Elder refers to God as unknowable, certainly the eternal mystery. And John says if we can perfect the love that flows from God by loving others with great compassion, then we will know who God is.
Compassion, empathy, and love are what Joaquin Christian Services is all about. Last week, when I took our April donations—toothpaste and toothbrushes—they were busy handing out much-needed and -appreciated boxes from the Farmers to Families program. It is always such a pleasure to see these volunteers doing God’s work! In May, we will be collecting cans of fruit.
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.