A Common Theme in Scripture

A Common Theme in Scripture

Published August 5, 2020

10th Sunday after Pentecost/Ordinary Time/August 5, 2020
Just these lines, my friends …

… to say Karen and I are on our way to Shawnee, KS where we will be moving her mother into full nursing care. I know it will be difficult and unsettling, but it is the right thing to do. As I write (Monday), we’re in Paducah, KY. The day has been full with travel, dropping a key off to our daughter, MacKenzie, in Nashville, a two-hour phone conversation with our daughter Molly, a one-hour conversation with an old preacher friend (Rev. Mack Strange) of mine, and four podcasts. Karen and I loved our first day of travel. Hopefully, we’ll arrive in Kansas safely Tuesday evening. We would cherish your prayers.

By the way, I heard two outstanding messages just this past weekend. First of all, Mayor John Higdon inspired our United Methodist Men’s group with a powerful witness. He told us of the ups and downs of his life and how it has been the raw material to shape him for what he is today. We are so fortunate to have John as our Matthews Mayor and as a part of our Church.

Secondly, how about those young people leading us in worship, and Pastor Corey’s amazing message in Sunday worship? I will never again watch an Olympic track race involving a baton and not remember her outstanding message for us. If you missed it, you can watch here.

Your ongoing generosity to our Church makes it possible for our transforming community to have a staff community and lay leaders serving among young people so that they might experience and offer the love of God in such transforming ways. I’m so proud of all we are doing, and I urge you to jump in as you’re able. If you are able to contribute, please click here.

A Common Theme in Scripture

Mayor Higdon shared this scripture lesson to the Men’s group on Saturday: “And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 3:3-5)

Thinking about that scripture lesson later in the day, I thought that it is a fifty-word passage that I wish was much shorter. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Apostle Paul instead had said something like, “We know that suffering leads to hope. Period.” But no… instead the lengthy chain of phrases in between suffering and hope is Paul’s way of reminding us that often the journey from darkness to light is a process, and the length of that journey can be a significant part of our transformation.

That idea might seem hard to believe and even tougher to swallow, but it’s a consistent theme throughout the Scriptures. For example …

  • It would have been so much easier for the Israelites if they had stepped immediately from Egyptian slavery to freedom in the Promised Land, but instead there were forty years and four hundred miles between the Red Sea and the Jordan River.
  • It would have been so much easier if the Judeans had been quickly freed from Babylon to return from exile, but instead it took seventy years, and help from the Persians, before they could come home.
  • And it would have been so much more comforting to the disciples if Jesus had come back to life minutes after he was crucified. But very often, resurrection takes time, and the time we spend waiting for Easter morning can be a Holy Saturday that we didn’t know we needed.

Even the transformations that seem instantaneous in the Bible were not all that sudden after all:

  • You remember Moses’ life was changed forever in a brief encounter with a burning bush, but it was a moment that took wandering as a fugitive in the wilderness to get there.
  • Do you remember the blind man in John 9 cured by Jesus with a single touch, yet the Bible says, he had been waiting all his life for that miracle?
  • Do you remember Saul’s conversion to Paul on the Damascus road? It seemed as instantaneous as that flash of light, but he still had to travel to Jerusalem, blind and aided by his friends, in order for transformation to be completed.

These days especially, it is no secret to you and me that life can be challenging, and we share in the pain of many people in our congregation and our community. But today, I invite you to spend some time reflecting on Paul’s words to the Romans, and even turn it into a prayer … for yourself, for your loved ones, and for anyone you know who is hurting.

God of hope and love, make yourself known to us in our suffering, so that we can discover an endurance that will enable us to go one step at a time, one day at a time. Accompany us in that endurance, so that we can shed the parts of our character that are keeping us from living the life you intend us to live. As we see evidence of the character-building work of your Spirit, may we be filled with a hope that the good work you have started will be completed in us. And may that hope remind us of your love, poured into our hearts and always available to each of us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, we pray. Amen.

Exciting News from the Memorial Garden Committee

There is exciting news from the Memorial Garden Committee! Enough families have made a commitment to purchase a burial niche or memorial plaque in the proposed memorial garden and columbarium to ensure that this project will be constructed once all money is received. A total of 52 families are involved, and have signed purchase agreements and started sending their payments towards the project. The Church office has already received over $70,000, and as soon as the total reaches $100,000, construction will begin.

The garden will be in the open space behind the Sanctuary next to the Children’s Building. The garden will be 64 feet long by 36 feet wide. The entire space will not be used initially; some space is for future expansion to the full 64×36 ft. dimensions. Features in the garden will include a double-sided niche unit with 40 double niches on each side and a single-sided niche unit with 72 single niches. A low bubbling fountain will be the focal point in the center of the garden. The long edge of the garden closest to the Sanctuary will be a brick wall ranging from 7 feet tall at the center to 5 feet on the ends. The other sides will have ornamental metal fence panels between brick columns. There will be metal benches for seating, and the entire garden will be landscaped professionally with trees, shrubs, flowers and groundcover. An additional double-niche unit with 80 more spaces will be added as soon as additional funding comes in.

Any Church members interested in securing a space in this beautiful new addition to our church’s campus and ministries may contact Mary Ayers or David Bigham (click here for info and contact info).

This Week (August 9) in Worship

We hope you’ll be with us for online worship this Sunday at 9:30 am (contemporary), 11:00 am (traditional) or 12:30 (Spanish-speaking).

In our morning services, Pastor Paul’s sermon is titled “Does My Life Have a Purpose?” You can prepare for Sunday by reading Psalm 57:1-5.

This week in our CCH community Pastor Roldan will be preaching from Acts 11:19-21, and his message will be “Let the Lord Direct Your Team.”

And as always, during these strange, uncertain and very challenging days remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.

Onward together,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II

Did you know that our Home2Home Ministry delivered 49 pieces of furniture to three different families on Saturday, August 1? Thank you to these faithful servants: Earl Coggins, Chuck DeLong, Larry Curtis, Joe Culpepper, John McClendon, Fred Goolsby and Sam Hatcher. You can read more about this ministry here, as well as our other local mission partners.

Did you know that Global Impact and MUMC men have a long-time relationship with the Charlotte Rescue Mission? The Charlotte Rescue Mission offers recovery programs for men and women, transforming lives in the name of Jesus Christ by serving people impacted by addiction to equip them to thrive in the community.  We recently interviewed Rico Blake, Kitchen Services Manager. Click here to hear his words of hope & transformation.

Did you know Richard Williams was invited to be in a one-hour conference call with Vice President Mike Pence on July 20? The purpose of the call was to share with the COVID Task Force from a business perspective what is and what is not working as it relates to COVID legislation. Way to go, Richard!

Did you know that Judy Suarez’s daughter, Rev. Susan Webster, has been chosen as the 2020 recipient of the Harry Denman Award for Outreach & Evangelism, awarded by the Western NC Conference?  Susan received the award in an online virtual ceremony Monday evening. Congratulations, Susan!

Did you know that MUMC streams our worship messages and videos in High Definition (HD) format? While playing a video on YouTube, use the gear icon to select Quality, then 1080p HD format! The gear icon is located on the bottom right on desktop or select the three dots at the top right on mobile. (Highest quality on Facebook is 720p which can be selected by the gear icon on desktop or by clicking on HD on the bottom right on mobile.) Be sure to turn up the volume setting using the speaker icon for optimum audio…and to hear our awesome praise team and featured Choir members in rich ambient stereo!