August 29, 2022 - Grace and peace from our brother, Jesus. We just finished an unusual week of weather here in East Texas. Gone were the dry, dusty days and triple digit temperatures. Instead, we had substantial rainfall and high temperatures only in the 70s and 80s. Except for a few flooding issues in our area, it was a nice break from our normal summer. High school football is in the air, and all the Shelby County teams that played on Thursday and Friday won! Happy faces come Monday morning.
Today, we gathered up packages of new children’s underwear and socks for Community Christian Services. I will make a trip to CCS on Wednesday to drop off the checks and clothing. It will be great to see many of my favorite Joaquin people! During the month of September we will be collecting macaroni and cheese. We wish our best to Lillie, Hilda, and Joe: We miss them and pray that they are getting along OK. It was great to have Sue and Fred back with us this morning!
This morning at Sunday School we began by talking about the turmoil and breakup in the United Methodist Church. Many congregations, including Paxton, are wrestling with whether it is better to stay in the denomination or to “disaffiliate” from the Texas Annual Conference and The United Methodist Church. Like many congregations, large and small, Paxton Methodist is trying to discern God’s direction in the questionable future. They are currently looking at information from the district and involved in discussions.
Fannie did get to the lesson at hand. The focus for the lesson came from Matthew 26: 47-56 that Gene read for the class. We heard about how Judas betrayed Jesus and a mob came ready to do violence. Some of Jesus’ disciples were ready to respond to the violence with more violence. Jesus would not be part of that but stood his ground with dignity, even as the angry mob took him away.
The author certainly feels the ideas of non-violence and meeting anger with compassion is the way of Jesus. The theme of our worship and sermon was humility; the Sunday School author certainly showed how Jesus met the situation of betrayal with calmness and humility.
Our worship service began with gathering words from Psalm 81. The poet tells his listeners that God wants us to listen to him and that those who do will be fed the finest wheat and honey. This psalm was often read to Jewish worshipers, regardless of the lesson’s theme that day. Our affirmation of faith was The Apostles’ Creed, a favorite of many Protestant churches. We sang “Where He Leads Me” and “Only Trust Him” along with the Gloria Patri and the Doxology. One bulletin quote was from Desmond Tutu, an Anglican Archbishop as well as Nobel peace prize winner: “We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome.” The inside quote was by William Wordsworth, renowned British poet: “The best portion of a good man’s life is his little nameless, unencumbered acts of kindness and love.”
The prophet Jeremiah said that God wondered if his favorite people had forsaken him. They seemed not to listen and to have walked away from living water. They tried unsuccessfully to build their own wells but that didn’t work out. There were two other readings from the Jewish Testament, one from Sirach, found in the Catholic Bible and the Jewish Testament but not in our Protestant Bibles. Sirach and Proverbs 21 speak of the need to be humble—because when you think too much of yourself, you set yourself up for a fall. This was the message Jesus shared with his Pharisee guests at dinner. His parable was a thinly veiled questioning of the way certain individuals around that very table were acting. And then Jesus made an outrageous request of them: When they have their next dinner party, invite the outcasts of society to come and share. People might sneer and laugh, but God will rejoice. The important guests didn’t much like Jesus’ idea.
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.