Baptism of the Lord
Just these lines, my friends …
…to say that we gathered for worship this Sunday in the Gym due to our broken water pipes in the Sanctuary. Pastor Paul preached a memorable message about the Wise Men. You can view it here. At the time of this writing, we are set to return to the Sanctuary this Sunday, January 8. Our cleaning & restoration team, COIT, has assured us that our space is safe (free of mold and mildew) and ready for occupation. You will see work that remains to be done on carpeting and sheetrock/plaster restoration. We hope to see you in one of our three regular morning worship hours. Please remember our Family Worship has been moved to January 22.
On New Year’s Eve, I attended the annual Watch Night Service at the Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church. It was a beautiful evening of worship.
Watch Night Service in the historically Black Church in America symbolizes the fact, that on the night of December 31, 1862 during the Civil War, free and freed blacks living in the Union States gathered at churches and/or other safe spaces, while thousands of their enslaved black sisters and brothers stood, knelt and prayed on plantations and other slave holding sites in America — waiting for President Abraham Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation into law. The Emancipation Proclamation legally recognized that the Civil War was fought for slavery.
One-hundred sixty years later, African American Christians continue the faith tradition of their enslaved ancestors and gather at a designated meeting space on New Year’s Eve, to celebrate; they are the survivors of a people who were defined in the U.S. Constitution as three-fifths human, shackled in chains and denied the right to vote. It is a tradition in the Black Church in America that five minutes before midnight, men, women and children will kneel, hold hands and pray to God from the present year into the New Year.
I thank God for our deep and abiding partnership with our friends from Mt. Moriah. You might even want to join us next year for New Year’s Eve.
On another note, Advent is over, and Christmas is here for a few more days. But for many, it may not feel like Christmas at all. Some may still be waiting for miracles. Some may still long for life to feel normal again. Christmastide (December 25 – January 6) is about the gradual departure of darkness and the gentle dawning of light at Epiphany.
Light is dawning for my friend, Almaz Asresahin. She and her ten-year-old twins, Amanuel and Aliana are deeply involved in Matthews United Methodist. Almaz was raised in Ethiopia and educated in the United States. For years they have been separated from family due to their worn-torn homeland. She wrote me the following note on Christmas day:
Today it feels like waking up from multiple horrible dreams, except sadly these feelings are based on real events. Today after almost three years I was able to speak with one of my brothers and a few friends in Tigray (Tigray is the northernmost regional state of Ethiopia).
Peace has found entrance into Tigray and its people and I’m thankful beyond words – praising God for this milestone. Our survivors are starting to breathe. I know many have been crying out and praying.
Though millions of questions are unanswered for Ethiopia and the people of Tigray, the silencing of guns and the end of killing by drones has brought relief to many souls in Tigray and outside like myself. Though I have never taken peace and the miracle of life for granted, now I know that peace is something to be treasured like the air we breathe. Life had become almost completely meaningless. Now, I am holding on to priceless JOY.
Please continue to pray for Tigray and Ethiopia, that the fragile and tiny peace that has come will grow and be sustained so that reconciliation and healing can start for the millions in Tigray and in many other parts of Ethiopia.
– Almaz Asresahin
Almaz, Amanuel and Aliana are so important to us. Let’s hold them close in our prayers and the peace of Ethiopia.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch my devotional for the week titled, God Makes All Things New.
2022 Financial Update
Our Finance Office, led by our Treasurer & Director of Operations, Debbie Fitts, is hard at work determining our year-end financial position and putting together our mission and ministry plan for 2023. We’ll get that information to you just as soon as possible. The Finance Committee will be assessing our year-end position on Tuesday, January 17, at their regularly scheduled meeting.
This Sunday in Worship
We invite you to join this Sunday at 8:15 am (traditional; in person only), 9:30 am (contemporary; in person or online here), 11:00 am (traditional; in person or online here) or 12:30 (Spanish; in person or on demand here).
Our CCH (Spanish-speaking) community will gather at 12:30 pm in the Sanctuary. Pastor Roldan’s sermon is titled, Worshipers Wanted from John 4:13-23.
During our morning services in the Sanctuary, Pastor Corey will be preaching. Her sermon is from Proverbs 3:5-6 and is titled, Surrender. The new year is a great time for each of us to look at the various areas of our lives where we have a hard grip on control and assess whether or not it is really ours to hold so tightly. We often believe surrender means missing out or receiving less. But surrendering to God is not about these things at all. Instead, it’s about living a victorious life in Christ and experiencing peace and joy. Please remember our Family Worship has been moved to January 22.
As you come to worship on Sunday, I hope you’ll consider inviting someone to church who is looking for the peace and joy that only God can give.
And now, during these early days of the New Year, remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.
Humbled to be living the adventure with you,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know that The Micah Connection was awarded a Mustard Seed Grant from The United Methodist Committee on Relief of Global Ministries, Inc? The grant focuses on Immigration and Refugees. We praise God that we were awarded funding for these efforts and look forward to administering these funds.