Ash Wednesday / 1st Sunday in Lent (March 6)
Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that yesterday was a gray, rainy day … but a rich and meaningful one filled with so many families making financial faith commitments and life commitments to the work of Global Impact in the year ahead. Last year, you brought them by the church as we gathered in the parking lot to receive your commitments in a rainstorm. At least this year, we got to come inside. If you were unable to make your Global Impact commitments, the baskets will be out for the next couple of Sundays, or you can click here to do so. You can watch the Sunday service here.
The events in Ukraine remind us that the world can be a terribly harsh place. Again and again, history, hatred and violence have conspired to destroy hard-won liberties, economic gains, and human hope. Again and again, innocents have been brutalized by conflicts not of their making and beyond their control. Again and again, nations have been consumed by jealousy and anger arising from tribalism. In so doing, humankind has ignored the central claim made by every great religion. We who inhabit this planet share one common parent. We all belong to God.
As Christians, our calling in the face of the violence (the calling Jesus made to the disciples) is to resist cynicism and apathy. Our calling will always be to take heart, to pray and to work toward the good. During these turbulent days, I invite you to pray with me the following prayer for Ukraine:
Gracious and eternal God, our only hope, our help in times of trouble, we pray for Ukraine and its people. In the midst of this invasion, as we witness again the horrible violence of war, we ask you to rescue those who are vulnerable, to shelter and comfort those who are afraid, to fill soldiers with decency and honor, to turn politicians toward diplomacy. We ask that you pull the hearts and minds of all your children toward peace.
Help us not to despair in the face of this conflict. Calm and strengthen our hearts. Turn our eyes toward Jesus, who entered every room saying: “Peace be with you.” Help us to embrace our Lord’s sacred way, so that power might always be used with compassion, that your will might overrule human willfulness, and that the song sung by angels might be true: “Peace on earth. Good will to all.”
Holy God, we pray, this day, for Ukraine and its people, and we pray for all humankind. Save us from ourselves. Guide our steps. Lead us in your way. Through Christ, our Lord, we pray. Amen.
On another note, I discovered in my files an old church bulletin that said, “Pin the church calendar for the week over your desk and refer to it each morning as you plan your day.” It was a reminder of how things used to be when the church was the center of activity, community, and, of course, faith for so many. Things have certainly changed as we have endless other ways to connect, stay engaged in our community, and grow in our faith. Yet, I want to encourage you to take this old sentence to heart.
After two years in a pandemic, we need to come together and connect regularly. We need to be reminded that we love one another and can trust that we each want what is best for one another. That happens so much more easily when we see one another in person.
We are a congregation made of a great diversity with our spiritual formation. We didn’t all begin as United Methodists or even as people raised with faith. Knowing the roots of our beloved congregation helps us all move forward as one body together. Being grounded in our thriving over the last nearly 150 years, despite the inevitable change that has come over the decades, can help us feel secure and help us find our way forward during this season of change as well. Coming together to celebrate after we have been separated and living through hard times brings us needed joy and the opportunity to remember ourselves and who we want to be as a church family.
So yes, I think it is apropos to “Pin the church calendar for the week over your desk and refer to it each morning as you plan your day.” There is much that we don’t want to miss together … such as Ash Wednesday worship on March 2, 7 pm in the Sanctuary.
In addition, we have a few Lenten connection opportunities like Lent in a Bag (register by tomorrow, March 3), the MUMC Butterfly Project (register by Sunday, March 13), and Intergenerational Wednesdays (sign up for one or for all).
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, whether in-person, livestream or on demand throughout the week. Remember to invite someone to church, especially someone you haven’t seen in church in a while. Let’s all get back to worship together.
Coming Together, Following Jesus, Changing Lives
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch my devotional for the week, titled “A Blessed Ash Wednesday.”
This Sunday in Worship
We invite you to join us this Sunday in person or online at 8:15 am (traditional – in person only), 9:30 am (contemporary), 11:00 am (traditional) or 12:30 (Spanish – in person only). Masks are now optional indoors on campus and we request that anyone serving children, youth or a vulnerable population be masked. Presently, the CDC guidelines concerning food handling safety have not been changed. We ask that all food be individually packaged or served by individuals who are masked and gloved. View Updates & Ministry Details: Kids, Youth, Adults.
In our Spanish-speaking CCH community, Pastor Roldan will be preparing the community for Lent. His Lenten sermon series is titled, The Story We All Must Tell. This Sunday he is preaching from Psalm 37:35-40 and his sermon title: What’s Your Story?
In our morning services as we, too, move into the Sundays of Lent, we will be taking a look at some of the parables of Jesus. It’s disturbing for me to realize how often my reaction to Jesus’ parables is the same as his disciples. It’s usually when they get it wrong or just don’t get it at all. That’s when I find myself saying, “Jesus, I Wish You Hadn’t Said That.”
It helps me to think of the parables as windows through which we catch a glimpse of the kingdom of God or kingdom of heaven, the terms are interchangeable. You could say that each parable is like a ship’s porthole through which we see one small part of the ocean of God’s life and love becoming a reality on earth as it is in heaven.
So, Sunday, let’s begin looking at some of these hard sayings of Jesus. My sermon is titled, Weeds in the Wheatfield from Matthew 13:24-30, most often called “The Parable of the Weeds.”
And now, as always, during these strange, uncertain, and hopeful days of pandemic remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know that the Administrative Council met this past Monday evening via Zoom? You can watch the recording of the meeting here. The next Council meeting is Monday, May 23.
Did you know that our friends with Rainbow Express Ministries have been packaging our communion wafers/cups for our monthly communion time since before Christmas? They will also be distributing pew offering envelopes, pencils and other information next week in preparation for our Lenten season. Thanks to our friends at Rainbow Express!!
Did you know that Seasoned to Perfection packed a couple hundred Lenten bags for the church to distribute to those who sign up to receive one? They did this as a service project for all tthe adults at our church, and you can sign up by March 3 to receive your very own Lent in a Bag. Thanks to all who participated!
Did you know that Brad Crossley, member of Matthews United Methodist and baritone in our Sanctuary Choir, is the Chief Financial Officer for The United Methodist Foundation of Western North Carolina? The UMF of WNC is the second largest foundation in The United Methodist Church with assets of over 330 million dollars.
Did you know that Pastor Roldan and his wife, Lisbey, led a Couple’s Night for CCH on Saturday, February 19 in The Commons? There were a number of couples of enjoyed a lovely evening and renewed their marriage vows. See the pictures below.
Did you know our Home2Home Ministry delivered 34 pieces of furniture and picked up 50 pieces of furniture on Saturday, February 26?
Did you know that two of our Global Impact ministries found a unique way to collaborate? Greater Matthews Habitat and Home2Home Ministries are helping Natalie and Isaiah build and furnish their new home. Habitat is building a 4-bedroom home for Natalie and Isaiah and their 5 children. Home2Home ministries provided 6 mattresses, 6 beds (2 sets of bunk beds), and 10 other pieces of furniture to this family. The Ash Wednesday offering will go to Home2Home Ministries to help them continue to provide furniture to families in need. This ministry and its volunteers act as the hands and feet of Jesus in our community. Please give generously.
Did you know that Julie Cochran has worked in our Genesis Garden for 11 years and has led this team for 5 years? We are all so grateful for Julie’s dedication, time and energy for this ministry. THANK YOU, JULIE! Julie has decided to step down as Champion so we need volunteers to help us plant and tend the garden this spring. If you feel led to help this ministry, please contact John McClendon.
Did you know that The Commons was transformed into an Italian Restaurant and BINGO hall on Friday night much to the delight of United Kids families and guests who enjoyed delicious food, dancing and some amazing BINGO prizes!