4th Sunday in Lent/March 18, 2020
Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that a common comment I have seen in the media and on social over the past few days has been “church is canceled.” I want to reassure you that while we have suspended in-person gatherings and services for some days, church has NOT been canceled. Matthews United Methodist is still about ministry and care for our neighbors, community and world.
By now I hope you’ve had some time to watch our live stream worship from Sunday. It was different, but hopefully helpful, in these days of social distancing. You will especially be moved by the music of our Sanctuary Choir joined by two of our youth, Maggie Fraser and Carleigh Courtney, which was recorded special for you at choir rehearsal last week.
I hope you’ll be with us at YouTube.com/MatthewsUMC or on Facebook Live at 11:00 am this Sunday as we continue our Lenten series, Questions We Hear Jesus Asking. The question for this week is “How Much Bread Do You Have?” from Matthew 15:29-39.
A Beautiful Prayer
Here is a beautiful prayer for these days by Cameron Bell. I’ve adapted it just a bit for our context. I invite you to pray it out loud, each day, perhaps with your family.
Gracious God, may we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remembers those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe places to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for the possibility of quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
O God, help us to choose to love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be Your loving embrace to our neighbors.
In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
A Few Things
Perhaps, it has never been truer that the church is not just a building. Please know your dedicated clergy and staff community are working extra hours seeking to be the church as we move through this season of unprecedented closures and cancellations.
Your staff management community were together on Tuesday afternoon for a productive meeting that involved lots of social distancing and sanitizing. We spent time in prayer for one another and for our wider community as we acknowledged that we all feel anxious and on edge. These are, without a doubt, hard and unprecedented times. However, we also spent time creatively and strategically thinking outside the box to develop ways to continue to be the church you have come to know and love. Here are some updates we want to share with you:
- The Church Office will largely be closed for now (beginning today, March 18) as your staff community will work primarily from home in order to keep one another and our families safe. Know that you are welcome to reach your staff via our email addresses & direct phone lines listed here. Our phone system sends voice mails to each staff person’s email. You can leave a voice mail on the church phone (704-847-6261) or you can call the Church Office and press 7 to reach the pastor on call.
- This Sunday, March 22, we invite you to worship with us online again at 11 am. Subscribe to our YouTube channel here and update your settings to receive notifications when we go live! You can check in early on our website or in the comments field of the live stream post on Facebook or YouTube.
- We will have a designated time of congregational prayer each day from 12 pm to 12:15 pm. Wherever you are, please join with your sisters and brothers at Matthews UMC to pray for our church, community and world.
- For a couple of weeks we are planning to send you a short video devotional each day. You can watch past devotions here. To ensure you receive them all, subscribe to regular church communications here.
- Please show sibling love in the midst of social distancing. Please call, text, email, and form virtual communities to mitigate loneliness and isolation. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” I Corinthians 12:27
- As you are able in your own circumstance, we invite you to continue to uphold our ministry with your gifts. You can make your online donation here, text your contribution to 704-885-5982, or mail it to Matthews United Methodist Church, 801 South Trade Street, Matthews, NC 28105. For some of us, the present Coronavirus crisis will not affect our incomes. Not everyone, though, will be in that situation. Some will see their income seriously affected by the social distancing that is attempting to slow the spread of the disease. Things like traveling, going out to dinner, cutbacks in entertainment, reduced hours, or overtime all carry potential hardships for people who were already just getting by. Please know Matthews United Methodist is deeply sensitive to the many ways the present crisis is affecting all of us.
As we continue to move forward in the peace, comfort and love of Jesus, we remember that God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. We are the children of the most-high God, the One who will never leave us or forsake us.
I love you and hold you close in prayer each day.
Keeping Hope Alive,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know Crandall Richardson, daughter of Keith and Nancy Richardson, was married to Brenton Dana on March 14 in the Sanctuary of Matthews United Methodist? Congratulations, Crandall & Brenton!
Did You Know you have free access to RightNow Media? This is a wonderful library of Bible studies that you can do from anywhere with anyone. If you have not already signed up go here to do so now. What a wonderful way to continue studying your Bible while keeping social distance.
Did you know when you sign up for Zoom at zoom.com they send you tutorials so you can learn to use it easily and quickly. You can also watch tutorials on how to use Zoom on YouTube. Now is a great time to start learning about virtual gatherings so you can stay connected in your small groups and classes.
Did you know Joe Bunn celebrated his 90th birthday on Sunday, March 15, with a big birthday party attended by his family and friends at his daughter’s home in Mint Hill. Happy Birthday, Joe!
Did you know Earl Coggins participated this past weekend (March 13-15) in a Lay Witness Mission at First Presbyterian Church of Danville, Virginia. A Lay Witness Mission is a weekend in which a team of laypersons spend a weekend in a church sharing stories and experiences of God’s work in their lives, including struggles and heartaches, victories and joys. They share their stories in small groups & congregational meetings, pray & listen in gracious and positive ways.
Did you know that Mrs. York’s Weekday Preschool class made cards to let our community helpers know how much they appreciate their keeping us safe. Sgt. Lackey, one of our student’s dad, is with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, and helped distribute the handmade cards. They reported all smiles and happy hearts!