Passion/Palm Sunday/April 1, 2020
Just these lines…
… to say a special word of thanks to the hundreds of you who have been joining us for worship each week in these uncertain, turbulent days. You can watch this past Sunday’s service here and join a small group here to stay connect through the week. Something I think will enhance your worship at home would be to get a candle and light it when you see one of the pastors light the Altar candles. Thank you for the privilege of leading us in worship during these days.
Last week I was getting a few groceries at Harris Teeter when I heard someone exclaim, “What a year this last week has been!” It certainly feels like a whole year’s worth of emotion in one week, doesn’t it? The level of disruption has been extraordinary. For the foreseeable future our lives will be radically different and socially distant – businesses shuttered, schools closed, and our churches empty.
We are adapting to the realities of children in online school, seniors anticipating no graduation, college students moving back with their parents, families figuring out how to “work from home,” and older adults experiencing unprecedented isolation. These radical forces are not limited to the domain of inconvenience; for the health of thousands of lives truly hangs on the precipice of this rabid virus in our community, our nation, and our world.
It feels like it could be wartime. The enemy is invisible. We must be diligent.
The frontline soldiers of this war are the faithful women and men who serve in hospitals and clinics every day, only to face exponential increases in those who are sick. Whatever aggravations we experience must be seen in the light of the sacrifice others are making to care and to heal.
I call upon our Matthews United Methodist community to heed the temporary plea for precaution and the necessity of prayer. As I write, I know of no cases of infected members in our congregation. Let us do what we can to keep it that way, not merely for our own sake, but for the sake of slowing the advance of this disease.
Let me mention a few updates:
- For the Sundays ahead, we would like to post selfie photos of our congregation throughout the pews to make our Sanctuary space look full and vibrant. We’d like to camera pan through the Sanctuary to you during our live stream, but we need everyone’s help to do it. Here are your simple instructions: take a selfie (you and/or your family) and then email it to Beth Lynn with SELFIE PHOTO in the subject line.
- I’ve invited you to take some time each day from 12:00 to 12:15 pm (fixed hour prayer) to pray for your church, community and world during these uncertain days. In addition I want to give you a fixed action prayer to pray each time you wash your hands. Hopefully, we are all doing a lot of that, so I invite you to pray the following: “Help me, and my church, O God, to be a source of hope and encouragement to all.”
- We’ve been telling you for a few weeks about our Wellness Ministry and Jan Harper. Jan is an RN who has spent much of the last decade working as an educator through other pandemics such as AIDS, SARS and Ebola under the direction of the World Health Organization. She is making herself available to answer your questions about the coronavirus. Her phone number is 704-661-6399.
- The Church Office is closed for now as your staff community is working primarily from home in order to keep one another and our families safe. Know that you are welcome to reach your staff via email (contact info here) or by calling the Church Office and leaving a message…or you can call the Church Office and press 7 to leave a message for the on-call pastor.
- Our ministry staff is emailing daily video devotions to encourage & uplift us during this difficult time. If you are not receiving these wonderful virtual words of inspiration, be sure to subscribe here. This will also ensure that you receive all of our Church communications throughout the year (newsletters, weather updates, etc).
- Do you know of someone in our Matthews UMC community who has a need? It may be food, childcare, medicines or assistance with bills. The Pastor’s Benevolence Fund may be able to help with these needs. You can contribute to this fund here by choosing “Other” and typing in Pastor’s Benevolence Fund.
- On March 30, two loads of groceries were delivered to the Matthews HELP Center for their food pantry needs. This missions partner has seen a 60% increase in food needs over the last week, and our MUMC Global Impact is helping to meet these needs. Funds were used from our Disaster and Crisis Relief/Recovery Fund to buy the requested items. Our friends at Publix/McKee Farms shopped for us, bagged the groceries and Pastor Brad and Amy DeVore picked up the groceries and delivered them to the Matthews Help Center. This method used minimal personal contact, following health guidelines to protect the community from COVID-19.
8. Our Sanctuary Choir has been building community by sharing YouTube videos of inspiration and hope. Click here for one I know will make you smile. It features the Charlotte Philharmonic Orchestra in a PBS special. See if you can recognize the one singing.
9. Plans are being made for Holy Week observances to be held virtually. A Maundy/Holy Thursday Service, including Holy Communion, and a Good Friday Service are being developed. Our preacher for Maundy Thursday is our very own Hunter Ross. Hunter, the son of John/Valarie Ross, grew up right here with us at MUMC. He went on to NC State and Duke Divinity School, and is preparing for ordination as a Deacon in The United Methodist Church. Plan to join us. As we say every year, the story finds its depth in the events of the whole week, not just the Sundays. Easter is richer and deeper if you journey through it all. Perhaps that is even truer this year than most.
This Week (April 5/Palm Sunday) in Worship
On these Sundays, as you are preparing for our virtual time together, let’s do a “virtual sliding over” on the pew to make room (or bandwidth) for our guests on the website. Try out YouTube.com/MatthewsUMC or Facebook.com/MatthewsUMC, where you don’t need an account to watch. Also, check in from our Sunday morning email, where “Check In Now” is pre-populated to make it easy for you! (Check out Frequently Asked Questions, or Subscribe to our news list for the email.)
This Sunday is Palm Sunday and we’ll follow our first Sunday of the month tradition of Holy Communion. Plan to have some grape juice and crackers nearby so we can celebrate the sacrament virtually. My sermon is our sixth in the worship series, Questions We Hear Jesus Asking. This week’s question, “Who Do You Say that I Am?” You can prepare for Sunday by reading Luke 19:28-44 and Mark 8:27-33.
Amidst the challenges we’re all facing, Matthews United Methodist remains rooted in the transformative power of gratitude. Like so many of you, the things that sustain us have taken a hit during the past few weeks. However, I’m reminded daily that:
- Good news abounds
- Love can easily traverse 6 feet
- Gratitude cannot be quarantined
Hang in there. We are in this together.
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know that our Centro Cristiano Hosanna (CCH) brothers and sisters are getting together virtually at least 4 times each week for times of reflection, prayer, praise and Sunday sermon messages from Pastor Roldan? Visit the CCH Facebook page to learn more or join them for online worship on Sundays at 1:00 pm!
Did you know Seth and Christina Starner were married in our church’s courtyard Wednesday afternoon. Seth is the son of Mark & Maxine Starner. Christina is the daughter of David & Anita Dowker. Congratulations, Seth & Christina!
Did you know that Beth Smith painted a watercolor of our donkey Eeyore from last year’s Palm Sunday service? This is a photo of Beth’s beautiful painting.