20th Sunday after Pentecost in Ordinary Time | October 14, 2020
Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that I walked in the door of my house on Sunday afternoon and my wife, Karen, said to me, “That Corey can preach.” That was after she’d said to me the week before when I came in the door from church, “Chuck, I thought you were slow and boring today.” Leave it to the woman of my dreams to tell the truth … about me … and Corey. Thank you Pastor Corey for putting the Word into words for us this past Sunday, and thank you to all those wonderful teenagers. I’m so grateful for their powerful witness. If you missed this past Sunday, you can watch here.
The days ahead will bring a couple of virtual broadcasts:
- Stories from the Endowment – Wednesday, October 21, 7 pm
- Live with Leaders – Monday, October 26, 7 pm
You can join us by clicking here.
Wednesday Video Devotions
In an effort to reduce the number of emails you receive, my Wednesday devotions will now be included in Just These Lines and on the Devotions Channel.
Click here to view today’s devotion.
Gratitude, Anger and Forgiveness
Several years ago, William Young wrote a novel which was both much-read and much-debated. Entitled The Shack, it told the story of a man whose young daughter had been kidnapped and brutally murdered. The man, struggling with a bitter anger, is invited by a mysterious note to come alone to the shack within which his daughter had been murdered. Expecting to find the murderer there, he prepares himself for a brutal struggle. But he meets God in the shack instead.
What follows is wonderfully warm and theologically fertile portrayal of the Trinity. But the wonderfully open, warm, embracing, nurturing, all-forgiving God that William Young’s character meets does have one hard, non-negotiable condition for getting to heaven: he has to forgive, not just his daughter’s murderer, but everyone, absolutely everyone, if he is to ultimately join the community of the blessed. He can go to Heaven, but not if he continues to carry his anger.
Whatever ecclesial deficiencies Young’s critics have accused him of, he is absolutely right and powerfully challenging on this central point — letting go of anger and bitterness. Indeed, I’m convinced that there comes a point in our lives where we need only three words in our spiritual vocabulary: forgive, forgive, forgive. Morris West, in a short autobiographical essay that he wrote to celebrate his 75th birthday, phrases this more positively. He states, “Upon arriving on your 75th birthday, you should only have one phrase left in your vocabulary: Thank you!”
Gratitude is the opposite of anger and we have too little gratitude in our lives. We are generally more angry than grateful. Moreover, to the extent that we even admit that we are angry, we tend to rationalize by saying, “I’m angry, but with cause! Mine is a righteous anger, like Jesus’ when he upset the tables of the money-changers in the temple!”
We should be cautious in flattering ourselves in this way: Unlike Jesus crying over Jerusalem, our tears are generally not warm tears of love and sadness over division and misunderstanding. Our tears, when there are tears are all, are generally cold tears of bitterness and anger at the sense of having been wronged, or of having to live in our churches and our society with people whom we consider ill-willed, lazy, small-minded, or just plain ignorant. We are more like the older brother of the prodigal son, doing mostly the right things, outwardly faithful in our religious and moral duties, but shackled with bitterness and a deep-down anger that makes it hard, or even impossible, for us to enter the dance, to let go, to forgive.
Too few of us admit that we carry a lot of anger inside of us, that there are places in us that are bitter and resentful, and that there are still certain persons, incidents, and events in our lives that we haven’t forgiven.
As well, to camouflage our anger we like to make a public display of our generosity and goodness. We tend to make a show to family and friends of how nice we are by praising someone lavishly and then, almost in the same sentence, call someone else a name, slander someone, or speak viciously or sarcastically about someone. This tendency to divide others into either “angels” or “demons” is a sure indication of anger inside of us. We make a display of praising certain people (a display meant more to publicly exhibit how nice we are than to highlight someone else’s virtues) and then bitterly complain about how awful some other people are and how we are forever surrounded with fools. Both the praise and the complaint testify to the same thing, we are living with anger.
Honesty and humility should eventually bring us to admit this. We all carry some angers and we should not deceive ourselves on this. We need courage and honesty to face up to this.
Perhaps we could take a lesson from groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and introduce ourselves to each other in this way: “My name is Chuck, and I’m an angry person. I rationalize this by telling myself and others that my anger is justified, that I’m like Jesus, kicking over the tables of the money-changers to cleanse God’s house. But I have come to realize that this is self-deception, simply a way of rationalizing my own hurt. As I get older, I realize that I’m like the older brother of the prodigal son; I am standing outside the circle of warmth and community, but the good news is that I’m in recovery.”
“Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”
The Work of our Vision Team: Our Next Faithful Steps
Over the past year our Vision Team has been hard at work. Led by Scott Lyons and Hampton Hopkins, the team has met with 30+ constituencies within Matthews United Methodist, and conducted a congregational survey to hear what our church community feels are our next steps. After numerous hours of listening and collecting data, the Vision Team has completed and submitted its Vision Report to the clergy, staff community and lay leadership. Church leadership is now in the process of examining the recommendations and establishing an implementation process that gives a proper balance between the recommendations and our current reality. We will continue to keep the congregation abreast of our progress.
Join me in a very special “thank you” for all the persons on our Vision Team who have guided these efforts: Marianne Bowman, Kristi Byrum, Lee Goldstein, Carol Hatcher, Bob Healy, Eva Hernandez, Hampton Hopkins, Kaitlin Klotz, Scott Lyons, Neal Miller, Jon Pollack, Valarie Ross and Michele Wright.
A Note from our Executive Pastor (Paul Craig) about the Retirement of Lynn Robertson
Lynn Robertson, our Chief Financial Officer & Treasurer has announced her retirement effective November 7, 2020. While MUMC will miss her presence, attention to detail, and enthusiasm, we are prayerful that this next season will allow her to care for older parents and grandchildren. She and Bert will not be leaving us, but will remain active here at Matthews UMC as members and volunteers. Please join staff and leadership in thanking Lynn for all of her great work over her nearly three years on staff.
This Sunday (October 18) in Worship
I 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).
This week in our CCH community Pastor Roldan will be preaching from Philippians 4:1-4, and his message is “A Well-Nourished Spiritual Life.” Pastor Roldan says, “I believe that our spiritual life is to be nourished well. We do so with the fruit of the Holy Spirit and when we pursue the things that unite us more than those that separate us.” This is his third message in a series on stewardship and generosity titled Gratitude Time.
Pastor Paul will be preaching this Sunday at 9:30 am and 11:00 am a message titled, “Tenants or Thieves?” based on Jesus’ parable of the landowner and his tenants from Matthew 21:33-39. Tune in and have a mirror handy!
And, as always, during these strange, uncertain and tumultuous days remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.
Onward Together … with Love,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know that Walter and Mable Miller are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary today? Thanks be to God for their wonderful example of marriage.
Did you know that Lindsey Wright & Allen Johnson were married on Saturday, October 10? Lindsey is the daughter of Peter & Mary Wright. Congratulations, Lindsey & Allen!
Did you know that you can make a difference while doing your regular shopping (or Prime Day deals) on Amazon? Simply shop at smile.amazon.com/ch/56-1004995 and AmazonSmile donates to Matthews United Methodist Church…OR you can SUPPORT A GLOBAL IMPACT PARTNER ORGANIZATION using our one-click Mission Partner Directory listing. AmazonSmile offers the exact pricing as Amazon and, in addition, donates a percentage to the organization of your choice. If you use the Amazon app, go to the app settings to turn on AmazonSmile and set your designated charity. Thank you!
Did you know that 27 people from CCH had their first prayer gathering since earlier this year? Everyone wore masks and was socially distanced for the event that took place at 6 am on Saturday, October 10, in the Sanctuary.
Did you know our Home2Home Ministry delivered 81 pieces of furniture this past Saturday, and picked up 42 pieces? They will be loading a 20’ truck on Friday, October 16, to take to a warehouse in Eastern North Carolina to be distributed to those who lost everything in recent storms.
Did you know that a donation from our Global Impact Disaster Relief Fund was shared with Rainbow Express Ministries? This community offers children and young adults with and without disabilities, opportunities to share their gifts, build friendships, and serve others, rooted in the abounding love of God. During COVID-19, Rainbow Express has had increased expenses for virtual meetings and programming for their young adults. Your generosity has allowed programming to continue, with remote learning.