October 3, 2022 - Grace and peace from our brother Jesus, Amen. Our church service began with a Gathering Hymn today: “This is My Song,” sung by Joan Baez. This beautiful hymn is also known as “Finlandia,” the national anthem of Finland. Our Gathering Words were based not on a Psalm this week but from Lamentations 3: 19-26. The poet of Lamentations thinks of his homeland and hopes that the love of God is still with him. Much of Lamentations is poetry of despair, but today it was tinged with a little bit of optimism. We sang two hymns, “My Hope Is Built” and “It’s Me, It’s Me, O Lord,” one we knew well and one we didn’t. Our first bulletin quote came from motivational speaker Michael Altshuler: “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” The second was from John G. Shedd, a philanthropist: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
Two of the bulletin pictures were tied to the Epistle lesson, the main scripture for my sermon, “The One and Only Paul.” It has been quite a while since I preached about Paul. In this letter, he tells us when we free ourselves from earthly things that don’t matter in the long run, we have more time to pursue righteousness, godliness, love, endurance and gentleness. I think most churches consider Paul a saint; many historians and scholars regard him as the founder of Christianity—or at least the co-creator. There is no denying the influence that Paul had on the early Jesus movement or his success in bringing ideas of God and faith in Jesus to many areas in the Roman Empire. Paul’s mission also focused on including Gentiles in the new faith.
We had a really good Sunday School class. Gene read the scriptures that came from James 2 and Exodus 22, both stressing the need of God’s faithful to care for the most vulnerable in our society. The reading from Exodus says we are not to mistreat immigrants, which certainly speaks to us in our fractured country today. James stresses that true faith empowers us to do good works.
I delivered a back seat full of mac-n-cheese brought to Paxton Methodist for Community Christian Services, along with some checks. In October, we’re collecting peanut butter and jelly for CCS. When I delivered the goods, I saw so many friends working hard to get food into the hands of those in need. Mayor Cooper brought out a shopping cart, which made loading and unloading easier. The Children’s Christmas part of CCS is also gearing up: This last week, we delivered two checks for that, one from our church and one from the VFW Auxiliary.
Last Thursday, we had called Church meeting. We have approved a budget for 2023 as well as the Trustees and Finance Committee reports. Sue brought Subway sandwiches and cookies, chips, grapes, and water; we ate during discussion and also took food home. The business of this meeting concerned the issue of disaffiliation. Many churches around the United States and other countries have left the United Methodist Church to create a new denomination called the Global Methodist Church. We at Paxton are still in the discernment phase—looking for guidance from above, from other churches who are further along in the process, and from each other. One important issue to all those present was the legacy of Paxton Methodist Church, whether it remains United or becomes Global.
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.