1st Sunday of Christmas Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that it is hard to believe we have entered Christmas week… the excitement is high! I hope God brings joy and comfort to you in this season.
There are a few wonderful things I’d like to mention about the last few days when it comes to Matthews United Methodist (MUMC):
- Children’s Nativity – Christmas comes for many of us on this special day. I even had the opportunity to hold the Baby Jesus (Teddy, the son of Michael/Rebecca Holt) for much of the 9:30 worship service. If you were unable to attend you can watch here.
- Room in the Inn (RITI) preparations for Christmas – This past week we learned that there were very few churches who were able to care for the homeless on the Night of Christmas. Kevin Halstead, our RITI coordinator put the word out about MUMC taking an additional night and your response was beyond belief. Thank you! Thank you! And thank you, Kevin Halstead.
- Home2Home (H2H) – What an amazing day! H2H was able to deliver 44 pieces of furniture to a family from Nepal. Earl Coggins said, “Being a part of this group and seeing the faces of the family and children when we drove up with all the furniture to fill there house, well it made my Christmas.” Gary Kraynock wrote, “Sitting back and reflecting on the day with a few aches and pains and a smile is how the Holy Spirit let’s you know that that the giving of yourself for others is what we are to do and how it restores you soul.” Since the beginning of H2H, close to 300 families have been served with nearly 1700 pieces of furniture. Thank you, H2H, for being the hands and feet of Jesus.
- Breakfast with Santa at the Matthews Community Center (MCC) – A wonderful group of MUMC volunteers spent the morning at MCC to extend care and hospitality to families from our area participating in Breakfast with Santa. MUMC was a sponsor for the event and got the opportunity to make God’s love real to many young families. Thank you, Rev. Jenny Savage and all our volunteers!
Someone sent me a post the other day that has been making the rounds on Facebook. It said, “God proved himself … because not one Bible in this Kentucky church was moved by the tornado.” When I read that statement, I was quite frankly stunned. God “proved himself” by saving Bibles and hymnals when a hundred people died and scores of families lost their homes, their businesses, their churches, their community. Was God more interested in saving Bibles and hymnals than saving people? What kind of God would that be?
What can we say? What do the songs we’ve been singing all through the Advent season mean now? Do the angels’ tidings of great joy mean anything in the face of this? Can we stand in the debris of Mayfield, Kentucky and speak of the One who is called Emmanuel, God with us? If the Christmas gospel has nothing meaningful to say to Kentucky or a school in Michigan or another earthquake in Haiti, then does it have anything meaningful to say at all?
If “God has proved himself”, as the Facebook post says, then I would say God has proved Himself by standing with the suffering, by taking on the pain, by feeling the loss, by becoming flesh. The Good News of Christmas is that God weeps with the mothers of Bethlehem when their children are slaughtered. God journeys with Joseph and his migrant family as they flee to Egypt. God guides the Wise Men through the maze of political deceit and lies.
God has proved God’s love for us in becoming one with us even to the point of sharing our death. John 1:14 says, “And the word became flesh and lived among us … full of grace and truth.”
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch my devotional for the week, titled “Believe.”
Christmas Eve at Matthews
Please see below about all our services on Christmas Eve. Children are welcome in all services. I am excited that we can return to Christmas Eve services in 2021 and hopefully we will return to our full slate of services in 2022.
Candlelight Christmas Eve Services:
- 4:00 pm Children & Family (The Gym)
- 6:00 pm Contemporary (Sanctuary)
- 7:30 pm CCH in Espanol (The Gym)
- 9:00 pm Traditional (Sanctuary) (6 & 9 in person & livestream)
Matthews Financial Update and End-of-Year Giving
Generosity bridges the gap between being a church in the community and a church for the community. As we close out a remarkable year of ministry, would you help us prepare for 2022 through an end-of-the-year donation or by setting up a 2022 recurring gift to the work of MUMC? We are excited for all God has in store and believe we have not even scratched the surface on what God wants to do in and through this church to bless our community and beyond.
I want to thank each of you for the amazing impact you make for Christ through MUMC each year! I am so grateful to be a part of a church that values making God’s Kingdom a reality in the world. As I shared in last week’s Just These Lines, 2021 has been a very challenging year financially for churches across the U.S. and MUMC is no exception. With ministries and programs returning in 2021 and some people still not ready to return, we find ourselves farther behind as we approach the end of the year compared to recent years. Prayerfully discern your year-end giving and if God leads to you give more as you have been blessed, consider that as well.
As many of you consider your year-end giving, please remember that donations must be received in our office or postmarked by December 31 in order to be tax deductible for 2021. Our office will be open for drop offs on December 31. You may also give online before midnight. The church can accept gifts of stock, qualified charitable distributions from IRAs, and grants from donor-advised funds. Please contact Leigh Ann Fesmire at 704-847-6261 ext. 102 if you have any questions.
The news has been full of stories about Afghan families fleeing their country and being evacuated to the USA. Some of you have been inquiring as to how we can help those arriving in Charlotte.
One of the resettlement agencies, Catholic Charities, has resettled 190 persons in two months, with more on the way before year’s end. Some of our MUMC folks are exploring the best ways we can engage and offer assistance. You will be hearing more about that in the near future.
The biggest challenge is finding housing for families. Due to the shortage of rental homes in Charlotte, most of these families are being housed in hotels. There is an immediate need for 15 homes or apartments with an additional 10 homes needed in the next 60 days as more evacuee families arrive. Some of you may have friends or family with a rental property that is available. You can help by spreading the word about this dire need. If you would like more information on this rental program, you can contact Sam Hatcher at 704-906-2714.
Sundays in Worship (December 26 & January 2)
We invite you to join us the next two Sundays (December 26 & January 2) at 10:30 am (one blended service – in person or online) or 12:30 (Spanish – in person only). Adult classes will meet at 9:15 am, Nursery will be available for Kids 3 and under from 10:00 am-12:00 pm, and there will be no Kids or Youth small groups on these Sunday mornings.
In our Spanish-speaking CCH community, preparations are being made for Christmas Eve with special music. Pastor Roldan will be reflecting on Matthew 1:18-25 with his sermon title, An Extraordinary Calling for an Ordinary Family. Then on Sunday, he will preach from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Church at Colossae (Colossians 3:12-17) with the title, Ingredients for a Good Recipe.
My sermon for this Sunday is titled, Forward Living on the Way Home from Luke 2:15-20 and Colossians 3:12-17.
In a sermon preached by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Christmas Eve 1867 he challenged God’s people to move into the year ahead with a renewed commitment to “bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism,” and work together to fulfill God’s vision for the world. On behalf of the staff and lay leadership of Matthews United Methodist, I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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 John Woodall, our Director of Contemporary Worship, took a group of carolers to a residence to cheer up a young man by the name of Jacob Goodson who lives with a muscular nerve disease that allows him only the use of his eyelids and hearing. The group, which consisted of current youth Ally Snider and Kate Gossett as well as youth alumni Parker Rosenblatt, Rece Nelson, and Caroline Perkins sang carols on Jacob’s lawn with Jacob just inside the front door. Santa (aka Urb Brinker) made a visit as well. This group brought an incredible amount of joy to the family that night.
Did you know that our redesigned website at MatthewsUMC.org launched with a simple, user-centric experience as directed by Our Faithful Next Steps feedback? Thank you to Shannon Williams, our Director of Communications, and our volunteer team — Kim Holt, Sarah Carlton, Damien and Erika Akelman — who all had an integral role in the design.