Paxton Methodist Weekly News, Sept. 11

September 12, 2022 - Grace and peace from our brother, Jesus, Amen. Today we remember the tragic and senseless events 21 years ago and wonder how people could be so heartless. How could the human heart—the home of that eternal spark—wreak such havoc. What did people think they could accomplish through such cowardly acts. It is almost like we are still numb from the terrible events a generation ago. At the same time, it seems like they took place just the other day, leaving us horror-filled. Do we still lean on each other for consolation? Do we still feel a sense of “United We Stand”? Do we still call on God to guide and direct us through such trying times? Shocking events do seem to put things in perspective and bring us together in our shared humanity. Hopefully, Sunday we paused between football games to ask God for his guidance through difficult times.

When I retired from the school business in 2008, I still had a job to go to. I was the pastor at First United Methodist Church in Joaquin. The church provided me an office, so I would go there to work on my sermon or do a little cleaning. On one such day as I was locking up and walking home, a big red puppy came bounding up. It was not unusual for people to dump their unwanted animals at the church. This big goofy dog followed me to the post office and waited outside as I went in to check the mail. When I came out there he was, ready for our next adventure. Susan Whiddon drove up about that time and hollered out what a good looking dog he was. I agreed. I also came up with a name for my new best friend—Abner Holliday.

After a rough start, our friendship flourished. He loved to dig up my garden. Often he would come tearing out from the side of the house with a pepper or a tomato plant in his mouth. But he outgrew that. Abner and I soon started a tradition of a daily walk at the city park. He loved to chase squirrels and run free around the park. My best canine buddy died after a ten-year friendship, and I miss him to this day. But I am now walking with two other rescue dogs—Gunter and Sam. I read a while back that if you want a hint of what heaven will be, get a dog. Both my wife and I have bumper stickers saying “Life is a journey best traveled with a dog.” I am always ready to share Abner—and Gunter and Sam—stories. They are part of my life’s story.

At Paxton Methodist, after singing hymns that serve as reminders of our faith and declaring our creed through ancient affirmations, we spent time discussing our future as a church community. Yes, this could be futile effort since we are in our seventies, eighties, and nineties; in addition, the whole United Methodist denomination is currently experiencing division. I am not sure that any of us felt enlightened, but I am happy that a conversation began: We agreed that we want the legacy of this small church preserved. We hope to ensure that the concern and compassion of the church continues even after the doors are closed for the last time.

Our songs today were both comforting and stirring: “Blessed Assurance” and “Hymn of Promise.” The bulletin quote from Harry S Truman emphasized our American character: “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” To accompany the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin, we had an excerpt of Alice Hoffman’s Local Girls: “He’d thought he was lost, but now he recognized that eternity was all around him, like salt from a shaker or stars in the sky.” My sermon dealt with memories and lessons of September 11, as well as with Jesus’ parables of loss and discovery.

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.