Paxton Methodist Weekly News, August 14

August 15, 2022 - Grace and peace from our brother, Jesus. School buses are running, and kids are back in school. It is a hot August with temperatures maybe reaching 105 this week. So things are back to normal. Sue and I only got a fraction of an inch of rain this past week, but maybe we will be luckier this coming week—and even that fraction had us celebrating. I had my 70th birthday Friday. That idea seems so strange until I look in the mirror, and an old guy looks back. I had a really nice birthday with all kinds of cool presents and calls from my kids. I can now accurately say that those who attend Paxton Methodist are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s. We are a “mature” congregation. We send our wishes for healing to Fred and Keith. I also want to wish my dear friend, Susan Whiddon, a happy upcoming birthday.

During the month of August we are collecting children’s underwear and socks, since the school year is just beginning. Kids ought to have some new clothes. Underclothes are not the most exciting but are comforting and needed. Community Christian Services is such a great help to folks in our part of East Texas. A big thank you to all the volunteers who give their time to keep this ministry humming. The Blessing Box in downtown Joaquin continues to be a help to so many people. When I walk my dogs in the morning and evening, it is very heartening to see how many people stop by with groceries to fill the Blessing Box. Sue also checks the next-door Little Library, adding books as needed.

Our Sunday School lesson was an exceptionally good one. But before we got into our class, we all spoke frankly about the issues that have caused the split in the United Methodist Church. So many times Jesus will quote a law from the Old Testament and then say, “But I say to you…”

Our Sunday School text today was Matthew 5: 9, 38-48, helping us discover that peacemaking happens when we obey Jesus’ law of love. Our writer told us that to be happy or blessed, we must work on living out Christ’s ideas. He said our world desperately needs peacemakers, not peacebreakers. We may be slowed down thinking that showing love toward others can be an opportunity by which they can take advantage of our kindness. But we should do the right thing regardless of the result.

We began our worship Sunday with words based on the Psalter Lesson, Psalm 80. We used the traditional Apostles’ Creed as our affirmation. We sang the Gloria Patri, the Doxology and added the Methodist anthem, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” by Charles Wesley. Our Hymn of Joy was “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Our quotes in the bulletin came from someone we don’t know and someone very familiar to us. From Nithya Shanti, an Indian educator, we had this philosophy: “When we are interested, we do what is convenient. When we are committed, we do whatever it takes.” On a similar topic, Amelia Earhart said, “The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity.”

I titled my sermon, “Oh My” even before I started writing it because when I read the Gospel I exclaimed, “Oh my!” I really have a hard time with Sunday’s Gospel lesson from Luke 12. Jesus says that he has come to bring fire and to set family members against each other. Some years I take the coward’s way out and select one of the other scripture lessons to preach on. But not this year. Jesus was acting as a prophet when he uttered these harsh words. A prophet in the Jewish tradition isn’t a fortuneteller but someone who speaks of God’s ways and urges people to follow them. Often, those words aren’t soft and comfortable but harsh and unrelenting.

There is no doubt that Jesus’ message, lifting up the poor and marginalized at the expense of the wealthy and the well-connected, was going to bring division. You can’t be a radical like Jesus and not expect push-back. When he seemed to snub the home folks while preaching in Nazareth, his neighbors were ready to throw him off a cliff. Jesus encountered jeers along with cheers as he headed to Jerusalem. And he certainly upset the Powers that Be in the temple and the government. Truth-tellers do that.

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 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.