March 1, 2021 - Grace and peace from our brother Jesus. Sunday was the Second Sunday of Lent. After a harsh and deadly winter storm, we’ve had really mild temperatures the last few days. I hope everyone has water and electricity by now. Watching the news, I see there are still parts of Texas without water. We’re lucky to have such devoted water system workers—they worked tirelessly for over a week to keep and restore services.
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: To curtail the spread of Covid-19, we should wash our hands regularly, stay at least six feet apart—social distancing, and yes, wear a mask—or maybe two masks—at least for the next hundred days. 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.
As soon as you can, get vaccinated against this scourge—twice. Sue and I got our first dose of the Covid vaccine the first of February and will be getting that second shot this week. But even with the vaccine, we’ll need to observe precautions. This isn’t a time to let our guard down.
We had a really nice crowd for Paxton Methodist this morning. It was so good to see Larry and Theresa, Sue and Fred, and—a blessing after so long a time—Mrs. Hilda! 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! Since we depend of CDs for our hymns, my dear wife Sue bought me two new CDs—one with 25 traditional hymns and the other with 25 gospel favorites. Fannie has also loaned me CDs, so I should have great success in choosing our hymns each Sunday. The songs for today were “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” AKA Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” and Fanny J. Crosby’s “To God Be the Glory.” As both were in the hymnal, we were able to follow along and “sing” them in our heads.
Our Sunday School lesson was the last for this quarter, so we got new Sunday School material. This final lesson used Matthew 21: 12-16: Gene read the verses about Jesus clearing the Temple. The author gave us plenty to think about, explaining parts in this passage that we all know and shedding light on topics I had never thought about. One thing the author said really stuck with me: “You can tell a lot about people by what makes them angry.” He felt that what was really important was whether there is room in our hearts for those who might be excluded.
The Old Testament Lesson for the 2nd Sunday in Lent was Genesis 17: 1-7 15-16. This wonderful spiritual story about Abraham and Sarah featured the growing relationship between this couple and God. God asks these two older people to pull up stakes and venture somewhere else. The promise is that Sarah and Abraham will become the mother and father of many nations. Sure enough, Sarah becomes pregnant; we know that the story of Abraham becomes the beginning of the three great faiths of Abraham—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
On Monday morning, I had my first-ever Zoom meeting! After dreading it for several reasons, I was easily able to connect and follow along. My meeting—usually in-person but altered by Covid—was with the District Committee of Ordained Ministries. The meeting is part of the United Methodist Church’s connectional system, just another aspect of being a Methodist. As for the Zoom element, welcome to the 21st century!
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