Sunday was the Third Sunday after the Epiphany. The Old Testament Lesson was Nehemiah 8: 1-3, 5-6, 8-10. Ezra brought out a scroll of the Torah and read words of hope to a defeated, beaten, subjected, hungry people. The words of hope were not only welcomed but vitally necessary. When Ezra finished he stepped down from the makeshift pulpit and walked among the people carrying the scroll. The people reached out to touch the Holy Book of Israel and no longer felt as hopeless. No, their multitude of problems still existed but they were once again given hope.
January 18, 2016 - Sunday was the Second Sunday after the Epiphany. Our Gospel Lesson moved from Luke to the John Gospel. We find Jesus at the wedding at Cana. This story is only found in the John Gospel. John is different than the other three Gospels found in the New Testament. The writer of John spends much of his gospel speaking of signs pointing to the unique and wonderful character of Jesus. The sign of turning water into wine speaks of the abundance in the Kingdom. Even for the poor and the marginalized—Jesus’ audience, there will be plenty—more than plenty.
January 11, 2016 - It was a cold start Sunday morning. Everyone at church sure appreciated Fannie coming last night and turning on the heaters. We are in the season of the Epiphany. Today traditionally is “the Baptism of our Lord” Sunday. All four of the Gospels tell of Jesus’ baptism by John. After his baptism and his forty days off by himself, Jesus’ ministry begins. Some historians say that Jesus’ ministry was only a year long, but most believe it was three years. So little is known about this time that it is hard to tell just how long it was.
December 28, 2015 - Sunday was the First Sunday after Christmas. Traditionally this Sunday is about the childhood and family of Jesus. There are only three episodes dealing with the childhood of Jesus: His parents presented him as an infant at the Temple ; the wise men came to see this Jesus; the third is the one that serves as today’s Gospel. Jesus is around twelve or thirteen, making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem with his family. I sure wish there was more about the young Jesus.
December 23, 2015 - Sunday was the 4th Sunday in Advent and is often referred to as Mary’s Sunday. Our gathering words were The Canticle of Mary also called The Magnificat. Today is the last Sunday of Advent. Christmas is right around the corner and the television news says 100 million of us will be traveling this Holiday Season. Paxton United Methodist wishes everyone a Joyous, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
December 14, 2015 - Sunday was the 3rd Sunday in Advent. All four lessons today speak of hope. Often as in our Old Testament reading from Zephaniah, this hope is built on pain. Zephaniah is very critical of those in power in ancient Israel and Judah . But as you move into the 3rd and last chapter, Zephaniah says to “Sing!” What is there to sing about? God is present and living with his people. He will not forget them. In our Epistle Lesson from Philippians, Paul is telling the people that they should celebrate God all day—every day.
December 7, 2015 - Sunday was the 2nd Sunday in Advent. The Old Testament Lesson was from Malachi. In the third chapter God says, “Look! I am sending my messenger on ahead to clear the way for me.” The name Malachi means messenger. If we look at the Hebrew Scriptures and assign a theme, it would be “covenant making and covenant breaking.” For the Jewish people there is hope in Malachi’s words even though they were often about covenant breaking. We of the Christian faith read those words and think of John the Baptizer and Jesus.
September 14, 2015 - Grace and peace from our brother, Jesus. Sunday was the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The scripture I used for my sermon was actually last Sunday’s Gospel Lesson—Mark 7: 24-30. I used the Epistle Lesson from James last week. Both these two scriptures are so important I decided to use the Mark Gospel and its story about the Syrophoenician woman. In the Matthew story this woman was a Canaanite woman. Both descriptions refer to someone who is a Gentile and despised by the Jewish people.
August 17, 2015 - Grace and peace from our brother, Jesus. Sunday was the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Old Testament Lesson was 1 Kings 2: 1-12, 3: 3-14. In this part of the history of the Jewish people King David dies and his son, Solomon becomes king. Solomon faces extreme danger from palace intrigue. Not everyone is happy that Solomon has become king. To begin his reign Solomon leaves the capital for Gibeon which is a holy site and where once the Ark of the Covenant was. Like many ancients, Solomon goes to a holy sight and camps out.