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Sunday was the Fourth Sunday of Advent, bringing our Advent journey to an end.  The four words of Advent are hope, peace, joy, and love.  I agree with Paul when he says the greatest is love, and that is today’s theme.  Christmas comes on a Sunday this year.  At Paxton, we will have Christmas Morning Worship Service at 10:00.  There will be no Sunday school.  Only two of the four Gospels speak of Christmas morning.  Christmas was not celebrated in the Christian Church until the 4th Century CE.  Even after the universal church made Christmas an end-of-year celebration, many Christian sects refused to participate.  In the Puritan colonies it was a crime to observe Christmas.  Workers were ordered to the fields and expected to give a full day’s labor.
 
The Gospel for the 4th Sunday of Advent is Matthew 1:18-25.  If Luke is Mary’s story, then Matthew is Joseph’s story.  And it is a story of love and devotion.  The angel spoke to the handyman Yosef and said, “Mary will bear a son, and you are to name him Yeshua.”  There is no greater example of someone discounting his own pride and feelings to do something out of love than Joseph, a model of humility and love. 
 
Our Sunday School lesson came from Luke 1:8-20, which tells about the promise of a child to Zechariah and Elizabeth.  We are familiar with this story and reminded that we must trust God even when it challenges us.  Our writer had one whole section called “Silencing the Skeptic”:  We have to admit that we are often skeptical just like Zechariah.  I remember reading about a scientist and  Christian who said sometimes she has to “will” herself to believe.  We all have to do that sometimes. 
 
Last Tuesday many of us went to Lakeside Village for song and stories.  Joyce, Lori, and Wyatt sang and played piano and guitar, delighting everyone with their special talents.  Fannie shared a poem that she wrote for Christmas 2016 and had copies of a wonderful Christmas story set at the end of WWII; she gave both to all the residents and guests.  Gene Casto sang a song about that special little boy, Jesus.  Nora shared her version of “Mary, Did You Know?” a haunting  Christmas song.  All of our nursing home ministries are made possible because of the work and planning Hilda does.  Our Holiday Nursing Center ministry has been cancelled for this month, but we’ll pick up next year!
 
In Methodist tradition, pastors will meet with their District Superintendent (Presiding Elder) in January, and around the world Methodist churches will submit their yearly reports on January 9th.  With all the new technology, these reports are done online.  That saves an extra trip to Lufkin. 
 
Everyone at Paxton Methodist wishes all our friends and neighbors a Happy Christmas.  Each New Year comes with challenges, and 2017 will be no different.  But our wish is that many joys will be found in this New Year. 
 
“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, Open Minds.” Sunday School starts at 9:30 and Worship begins at 10:00. Our email address is paxtonumc@yahoo.com. If you would like the weekly email newsletter about Paxton Methodist you can send me your email address to the Paxton email address and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed!

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