August 1, 2022 - Grace and peace from our brother, Jesus. If you like really hot weather, blue skies, and bright sun, then you are loving our weather here deep in the heart of Texas. I know, though, that July and August are just part of not having snow and ice on the ground for days and weeks at a time. I have made some adjustments in my schedule. I get up early and head to the Joaquin City Park with my four- legged friends, Gunter and Sam. I walk my two miles, and they run free. On Friday, by the time I put them back on their leashes, they were both lying in a pile of sand, trying to stay cool.
This year July has five Sundays. Monday is the start of August, and we at Paxton Methodist will celebrate Communion next Sunday—the first Sunday of the month. All July we have been collecting cans of spaghetti, ravioli, and other Italian foods. We loaded them up in my truck Sunday and on Wednesday I will take them, along with a couple of checks, to Community Christian Services. In August we will collect children’s underwear and socks. During a short business meeting, the church voted to extend a scholarship to one of Lillie’s grandsons. We also voted to increase the usual amount of our scholarships and to revisit the amount if we need to increase it again. Seems like everything these days, including education, is very expensive. I am amazed at what the local news says parents will spend on each child returning to school this year.
It was so good to have Sue and Fred back with us this Sunday, and we hope they are on the mend. We also send our best wishes to Lillie, Keith, and Vera—all of whom have been under the weather. I know that teachers head back to the schoolhouse tomorrow in Joaquin. The summer break just flew by. Thank goodness for air conditioning! In Dallas, I remember many hot, humid days at Mockingbird Elementary (it was Stonewall Jackson when I was in school), and all we had was one rotating fan. We didn’t start school until after Labor Day, but we had plenty of hot days in hot classrooms. Our son and daughter are in the Dallas area now; they’ve had weeks of triple-digit temperatures with no let-up.
Our Sunday School lesson was a good one. It came from Acts 16 and told about Paul and Silas chained up in prison. An earthquake shook the prison doors open and loosened the chains. When the guard saw this, he was sure the prisoners had escaped and was going to kill himself. Paul assured the guard that they were all still there, and Paul was able to convert the guard right there one the spot. Paul and Silas certainly were in a terrible situation. And yet they refused to let their situation keep their spirits down. They sang hymns and prayers while the other prisoners listened. They used their predicament to bring good news to the prisoners. The author told us that when we feel helpless and all alone in the world, that spark in each of us seeks something bigger than just ourselves. I am always amazed that so much of what our Sunday School lesson teaches I speak about in my sermon later—all part of following the lectionary order of scriptures.
We began our worship service with Gathering Words based on Psalm 107. In unison we spoke our affirmation of faith, which today was the Apostles’ Creed. Sue read the Gospel lesson from Luke 12: 13-21, the parable about the rich fool. Our hymns were songs of awe and hope: “I Stand Amazed in the Presence” and “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” One quote in the bulletin was from Clarence Darrow, the famous American lawyer: “True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.” Inside the bulletin was St. Thomas Aquinas, an early church father, saying “To love anyone is nothing else than to wish that person good.”
I titled my sermon “The MORE.” This comes from the great theologian Marcus Borg, who often referred to God and the Eternal as “the MORE”—the good stuff. We are all guilty from time to time of ignoring our spiritual sides and enjoying way too much our riches and possessions. Jesus was asked a question about inheritance, wealth, and possessions. In response, he told the parable of the rich fool, who was so caught up in gaining more wealth that he forgot about the MORE—God. This rich fool spent his time amassing worldly goods, only to die an early death. Jesus’ parable reminds us to make room in our lives for the MORE, not allowing ourselves to become greedy and too much in love with our possessions. I finished my sermon by saying, “Let us worship God not with fear and trembling, but with awe and wonder at the workings of our universe.”
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.