August 21, 2017 - Sunday was the 11th Sunday after Pentecost. The Gospel Lesson came from Matthew 15:21-28. It is one of the most difficult passages because it doesn’t show Jesus in a favorable light. Jesus spurns the Canaanite women and refuses to help her daughter. He questions why he should feed the dogs and ignore the children of Israel. This woman, who calls Jesus the Messiah, says that even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.
August 14, 2017 - Sunday was the 10th Sunday after Pentecost. We have had a rainy August which means we have had cooler temperatures, with no string of 100 degree days this August! Since this is the year of Matthew, our Gospel Lesson for Sunday was Matthew 14:22-33. Once again Jesus sends his disciples ahead so that he can find that quiet place to pray and think. When Jesus rejoins his disciples, he does so in dramatic fashion. He comes walking on the water toward the boat. At first the disciples think they are seeing a vision or a ghost. But then they realize it is the teacher.
August 7, 2017 - Sunday was the 9th Sunday after Pentecost. The Gospel lesson is one of the most beloved stories in the New Testament, in which we see Jesus feeding the multitude with only five loaves and two fish. But my focus was on what brought Jesus to where he hoped he would find peace and quiet. As the Gospel lesson from Matthew begins, Jesus has just learned that his beloved friend and mentor John the Baptizer has been executed.
July 31, 2017 - Sunday wa s the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, in the midst of Ordinary Time on the Christian calendar. The Gospel Lesson from Matthew continues with the Kingdom parables. In today’s Gospel lesson—Matthew 13:11-33, 44-52—Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to five different things: a mustard seed, yeast, hidden treasure, a pearl, and a fishing net. Five common things related to the kingdom serve as a reminder that the Kingdom of God is close by. You can smell it—like you can often smell a coming rain shower.
July 24, 2017 - Sunday was the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, in the midst of Ordinary Time on the Christian calendar. The Gospel Lesson from Matthew 13 continues with the Kingdom parables. In today’s parable Jesus speaks of a field of wheat that has also been sown with weeds. The particular weed in question looks like wheat but is actually poisonous. Parables are wonderful in their simplicity and poetry, but parables have a way of having multiple meanings.
July 17, 2017 - Sunday was the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, in the midst of Ordinary Time on the Christian calendar. This is the year of Matthew, and starting in Chapter 13 we have a series of Kingdom parables. Parables are more poetry than prose—more of a comfortable stroll along a stream than a strenuous walk. Many parables are the parts of the New Testament that people can recall from their early days in Sunday school. These parables are not about regulations and rules but about dreams and poetry and images of living in God’s Kingdom in the right now.
July 10, 2017 - Sunday was the 5th Sunday after Pentecost. We are deep into summer, and the temperatures and humidity testify to that. I talked to an aunt and uncle in Maine who said the high there was 73. He suggested that we get a summer place in Maine—it sure sounds good! The Gospel Lesson today from Matthew includes the well-known passage about a comfortable yoke. Jesus offers to help us with our burdens of human living and promises that the yoke will be easy.
July 3, 2017 - Sunday was the 4th Sunday after Pentecost. Our Gospel Lessons have been from Matthew and focus on the five long talks by Jesus found in this Gospel. The five symbolize Jesus’ Torah and a way for the Matthew writer to tie Jesus to the Jewish faith. Matthew 10: 40-43 speaks of a cool cup of water as a sign of hospitality. This passage is only found in the Matthew Gospel. Methodists are always to be practicing “radical hospitality” as seen in their motto—“Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.” Unfortunately, as a denomination we don’t make enough of an effort.
June 26, 2017 - Sunday was the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost. There were some pretty heavy storms around Timpson that morning, but thankfully they moved off before folks started out for church. I was the fill-in for Fannie, teaching our Sunday School lesson. Our lessons this quarter have focused on Judges; today’s was about Samson. Of course, what I remember from childhood Sunday school days is a tough-guy Samson who had really long hair.
June 19, 2017 - Sunday was the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, denoting major religious and festival celebrations being over until fall. We had our usual crowd at Paxton this morning. Cynthia graciously came by and played the piano for us on the way to her own church. Joy and Gene brought produce from their garden, set up two long tables full of delicious looking vegetables, and even brought plastic bags to hold what we wanted. They also had their canned pickles and hot sauce. It was a real farmers’ market right there at church!