September 20, 2021 - Grace and peace from our friend and brother Jesus. Sunday morning came in quiet and peaceful after our busy week. Sue and I went to Dallas to stay at our daughter’s house. Meg works remotely and was involved with zoom calls most of the afternoon—but was able to take off Thursday and Friday. Our son Jacob came for dinner Wednesday evening; we had a nice visit and updates on his family in Denton. During the day Thursday, Meg and I went plant and home shopping, our favorite. My brother and sister-in-law came over later for dinner, visit, and birthday presents. The next morning I met my brother for a leisurely breakfast, while Sue and Megan went downtown for the Van Gogh exhibit. All this might sound low-key to some, but it was high adventure to the Joaquin Smiths!
Sunday was the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Autumn makes an appearance this coming week with the promise of cooler days. The dogs and I are looking forward to crisp (but not too cold) mornings for our walks. With the coming of autumn, we know we have turned a page on the Christian calendar: In just a few months Advent will begin with the stories to get us ready for the coming of the Christ Child.
It was so nice to have Fred and Sue with us once again all the way from Louisiana! We have really enjoyed getting to know them during the pandemic. Joe is back to his old job of leading the singing, although from CDs now. “Amazing Grace” was easy enough—yeah, we know it pretty well, but also the accompanist played at a good pace for us old folks. Not necessarily so with “Blessed Assurance,” our second hymn. All those triplets, plus a lively pianist really made us hustle!
Our Sunday School lesson, based on Galatians 2: 11-21, left all of us puzzled, not sure we liked the stories or illustrations. The scripture dealt with the split between Jewish and Gentile followers in the early Jesus communities. Peter and Paul are at loggerheads over how much of a role Jewish traditions, culture, and religion will play in the new faith groups, where more and more of the converts had previously been pagans and not Jews. Paul reaffirms what Jesus said: The greatest commandment is to love God and love one’s neighbor. Paul and Peter could agree on that—I think.
The main scripture for my sermon was once again from James—James 3: 5-6, 13, 17-18. James is not a theologian like Paul but is able to outline clear-cut ways to act in order to truly follow Jesus. In the reading, James warns about the damage we can do with our words. He says a good and righteous life can be seen by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
All during the month of September we are collecting macaroni and cheese for Community Christian Services. In October, which is coming up quickly, we will donate peanut butter and jelly. As “point man” for the Christmas part of Christian Services, Sue got a text last week asking for confirmation of our church’s usual involvement. That early notice might’ve taken some aback, but my wife has been busily working on our family Christmas since August!
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.