Gathering Around the Communion Table

Gathering Around the Communion Table

Published October 2, 2019

Ordinary Time/World Communion Sunday/October 2, 2019

Just these lines, my friends

… to say that the last few days have been full when it comes to our transforming community of Matthews United Methodist Church (MUMC).

On Tuesday, September 24 – Pathways to Peace: What a remarkable evening we shared with Dr. Elise Mae Cannon,  Rabbi Dr. Daniel Roth from Israel, and Palestinian-American Aziz Abu Sarah. By the way, Aziz was recently selected as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world. It was an evening of multi-faith dialogue and engagement in constructive conflict, peace, and reality of life in Israel and Palestine. Rabbi Roth and Mr. Aziz modeled for us healthy dialogue, peacemaking and reconciliation even in the midst of deep disagreements. We learned we can be Pro-Israeli, Pro-Palestinian and pro-Peace. Dr. Cannon has edited a powerful book on the issues, titled A Land Full of God. The forward is written by Rabbi Roth and Mr. Aziz. You can purchase the book here, or watch the event here.

On Wednesday, September 25 Inclusive Grace: This is a new ministry in our church with a mission to support LGBTQIA+ persons, their families, and friends, both within and beyond the church community. A room full of persons showed up to learn of this new opportunity to love and serve.

On Thursday, September 26 A Tragic Death: MUMC hosted hundreds of people that attended the funeral service for a wonderful young man in our community, Dr. Matt Fiss. Matt died in a tragic fall at his home in Providence Plantation. He was a brilliant environmental engineer. Matt and his family have been deeply involved in our Weekday Preschool for years. Matt was confirmed in MUMC in 1994. Let’s hold his widow, Lauren, and their three children so close in our prayers.

Also on Thursday, September 26 MUMC Mens Ministry Golf Outing: More than 100 golfers (women and men) participated in this annual outing. All the money raised will be used to support mission efforts like Charlotte Rescue Mission and Hoskin’s Park. Thank you to Marshall Edwards, Skip Hull and a host of people involved in making this a wonderful afternoon. (See picture highlights at the bottom of this email.)

And then Sunday, September 29 Worship at MUMC: We dove deep into our 5th Fruit of the Holy Spirit, gentleness. On Sunday, I said, Why would the Apostle Paul press us toward gentleness? This is certainly not what the coach uses to rally the team. By no means do executives send their sales force into the field with it. Radio or TV talk shows dont boost their ratings with it. Come on. Lets be honest. Very few people are ever described in a positive way by using the words gentle. I hope you’ll take the time to watch my sermon here.

Its a Small World

I remember my first time to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and when the Wilson tribe rode the iconic Its a Small World. I’m sure many of you know the ride well. It is a twelve-minute boat ride through a series of depictions of countries around the world. It features audio-animatronic, child-like dolls dancing, playing, and of course…singing.

That song is one of the most enduring – and annoying – Disney songs ever written. When Walt Disney first developed the ride for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, he envisioned all the children simultaneously singing their own individual national anthems as the riders went by. As you can imagine, that created a cacophony of unintelligible noise.

So he asked his chief songwriters Robert and Richard Sherman, who wrote the famous music to Mary Poppins, to come up with a single song that the children could sing in unison. Our country had just gone through the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Sherman brothers wanted to write a song about peace, interdependence and our connection to one another.

They then wrote these now legendary words, which all 289 audio-animatronic children — in one of five different languages — join together to sing:

It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears
It’s a world of hopes and a world of fears
There’s so much that we share that it’s time we’re aware
Its a small world after all.

I’ll spare you the chorus. It might stick with you all day.

Eighty-five years ago this month, a different kind of demonstration of global harmony was born in the observance now known as World Communion Sunday. It was first conceived by a Presbyterian minister named Hugh Thomas Kerr. He wanted to “bring churches together in a service of Christian unity — in which everyone might receive both inspiration and information, and above all to know how important the Church of Jesus Christ is, and how each congregation is interconnected one with another.”

A few years later, the Federal Council of Churches formally designated the first Sunday of October as a time to celebrate our global connectedness in Jesus Christ, gathering around the communion table as one body around the world.

For one singular moment every year, we lay aside our national and denominational anthems, and we gather to say the same words in unison:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of Power and Might;
Heaven and earth are full of your glory;
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord,
Hosanna in the highest!

In a time when we are so prone to polarization and division in our ideologies, politics, and worldviews…and might I add generational disputes…we need World Communion Sunday and our annual Youth Sunday like never before. In all our morning Sanctuary services this Sunday, October 6, we will gather together in unison with Christians around the world and with our wonderful United Youth to pray that the Holy Spirit would once again “make us one with Christ, one with each other and one in ministry throughout the world.”

Or, in the words of the second, lesser-known verse of Its a Small World:

There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It’s a small world after all

Join us this Sunday for this beautiful, timely, and poignant celebration of a God who breaks down our walls, invites us to the same table, and calls us — both young and old — to speak the same words together.

Upcoming Dates

If you will, please consider putting an “X” on the calendar for these upcoming dates:

  • 30 Days of Gratitude beginning October 30: I so hope that you’ll participate in our “Gratitude Challenge.” You’ll hear more about it in the days to come.
  • Joash Chest Sunday, November 17: This is our annual Sunday when our families make their financial commitments for 2020. These are some of the holiest moments we share each year. I love watching you stream forward to make your commitments.

This Sunday (October 6) in Worship

Again, this Sunday is a day we “older” adults can express some generational hospitality. It may not be your style of worship with the music or language you prefer. You may see a skirt too short for your tastes, or a ball cap…or even hear something that causes your head to twist, but they are ours and they need us to continue to invest deeply in their lives.

Oh, and please join me in saying “thank you” to our incredible Youth Ministry Staff community: Rev. Corey Millet, Rob Hunter, Elizabeth Carpenton, Amy Benjamin, Jamie Conder and a whole host of adult volunteers who lead the way. We have a remarkable cadre of women and men our youth “hang out” with on a regular basis. They are outstanding people of faith and commitment.

Mark DeVries is a dear friend of mine, and one of the most insightful persons in this country related to young people. I once heard him challenge a congregation by saying, We are to catalyze a constellation of relationships around every young person in the church, a web of intergenerational, vertical connections that keeps them anchored in the faith. Friends, we are that Cloud of Witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) for the next generation. Let’s not miss a moment of influence. Sunday is one of our most important days to show up in their lives.

Oh, and when Youth Sunday 2019 is concluded, be sure to say “thank you” to all the young people that give witness to their faith. You never know the impact you might have on them.

Im Choosing Gentleness,

Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II

Did you know that over 600 books were donated to Promising Pages after the Fall Consignment Sale? The committee is looking for new members from all ages and phases of life to help with the Spring Sale on March 21, 2020. Visit to learn more.

Did you know that Promise Pajamas raised $18,000 during their September fashion show fundraiser to provide new pajamas to children in need?

Did you know that Global Impact funded the purchase of a new grill for Charlotte Rescue Mission?