October 18, 2016 - Sunday was the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost. We are nearing the end of the Christian year, and a new year will soon begin. On October 30th, we Protestants will celebrate Reformation Sunday and the next day, All Hallowed Saints Eve. Then the first day of the new month is the wonderful Christian holy day—All Saints Day. Christians around the world will remember the saints that died during this past year and also all the saints that have kept the faith alive throughout the years.
October 10, 2016 - Sunday was the 21st Sunday after Pentecost. This Sunday was Gideons International Sunday at Paxton. In the past, Paxton Methodist had several members who were Gideons, and our congregation supports their efforts. Our guest speaker, Cliff Hickman, came from Henderson to join us for both Sunday School and church. Cliff shared moving testimonies about people who came across a Gideon Bible and also explained the work and goals of the Gideons International. Paxton Methodist budgets money each year for the Gideons.
October 3, 2016 - Sunday was the 20th Sunday after Pentecost and the first Sunday in October. At Paxton we celebrated communion using the liturgy called “Table of Plenty.” Sunday was World Communion Sunday: The idea of a billion or more Christians celebrating communion Sunday morning is cool! During the month of October we will be collecting peanut butter and jelly for Community Christian Services. For my sermon I used the Old Testament Lesson from Lamentations 1: 1-6 and the Epistle Lesson from 2 Timothy 1: 3-14.
September 26, 2016 - Sunday was the 19th Sunday after Pentecost. This is the last Sunday in September. If predictions are right, we should have some rain and finally some fall-like temperatures. I am not ready for winter, but I am so ready for fall or autumn. I used the Epistle Lesson from 1 Timothy 6 and from the Old Testament, Amos 6. All the lections (scriptures) deal with our love of money and material things and how throughout history our desire for more has moved us further and further away from God.
September 19, 2016 - Sunday was the 18th Sunday after Pentecost. The Old Testament Lesson came from Jeremiah 8: 18-9:1 and it is a mournful passage. Jeremiah speaks of God’s heart being broken. The idea of God hurting has been debated from the time of the early church fathers and mothers. In my own theology I can certainly understand God feeling pain and sadness at the terrible stewards of creation we sometimes are. The passage ends with the question, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician?”
September 12, 2016 - Sunday was the 17th Sunday after Pentecost. I was going to preach on the assigned Gospel for the 17th Sunday but kept being pulled to the stark words of the prophet Jeremiah. So my sermon used the Old Testament text and the Epistle. Jeremiah’s words in 4:23-28 paint a very bleak picture of the world. Last week my sermon ended with words from writers at the end of WWII. Writers such as C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien used metaphor and fantasy to rescue people from their despair. After the horrors of WWII it was hard to imagine what the future held.
September 6, 2016 - Sunday was the 16th Sunday after Pentecost. This was the first Sunday of a new month and the Paxton Church celebrated Holy Communion. This month, our church will be collecting macaroni and cheese for Community Christian Services. The Gospel Lesson for this Sunday is the last part of Luke 14. In last week’s Gospel, Jesus had been invited to dine at a leading Pharisee’s home. Our lesson today takes up as Jesus leaves the house and a large crowd had come to hear this rabbi. Jesus in no uncertain terms explains the high cost of being one of his disciples.
August 29, 2016 - Sunday was the 15th Sunday after Pentecost. It was a rainy evening Saturday: At the Smith house we collected about an inch and a half. This is one of the wettest Augusts that I can remember. I used as my scripture verses from Jeremiah 2 and Luke 14. Jeremiah and God are talking; God feels abandoned by his special people. He wonders to his prophet if he wronged them—have the chosen forgotten all God had done for the ancestors. In these passages are wonderful images of the Sacred as Jeremiah speaks of living water—flowing water.
August 22, 2016 - Sunday was the 14th Sunday after Pentecost. The Gospel story is found only in Luke, but similar controversies dealing with the Sabbath are found elsewhere in Luke and in the other Gospels. Once again we must transport ourselves into a foreign time, a foreign place, and a foreign culture. Jesus is asked to reach from the scrolls at a synagogue and to teach. But as often happens with Jesus other events alter his plans and he has a chance to teach by example. The “good church folks” at the synagogue, as was often the case, didn’t like what Jesus did or said.
August 15, 2016 - Sunday was the 13th Sunday after Pentecost. In my sermon Sunday before last I returned to the Luke Gospel (Luke 12: 13-21.) Jesus and his disciples and other followers have made that fateful turn and are heading to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the ancestral home of Kings since David—the home of the newly built great Temple--the official regional capital of this region for the Roman Empire. Jesus’ parable is about the rich fool who builds more barns to keep the excess of some very good harvests.