Joy in the Desert

Joy in the Desert

Published December 20, 2023

Christmas Eve | 4th Sunday of Advent
Just these lines, my friends …

… to say that my heart is singing with gratitude today as I remember our time together on Sunday. There were over 100 children enacting our annual Matthews United Methodist Children’s Nativity for us. Is there any more magical moment in every year than when baby Jesus is placed in the manger? A very special thank you to all our children and their leaders for one of our favorite moments of the year. I want you to hear the stories I told about the Christmas Eve Pageant and Fred Ashford, the most amazing joy-bringer I know. If you missed being with us in person or online, please take the time to worship here.

Wednesday Devotional

I hope you can take a few minutes to watch my devotional for the week titled, Joy in the Desert. I tell the story of being in a Trappist Monastery on the outskirts of Chicago.

Financial Update: Close the Gap in 2023

We have had an amazing, fruitful year of ministry, thanks to God’s grace and your generosity.

We still have a long way to go in these final days of December, as we always do. Nearly 20% of our annual budget always comes in during this month. To make our budget for 2023, we will need $259,281 (as of December 20) by December 31. Let’s work together and finish strong! See our Year-End Giving Guidelines here.

If you would like to catch up with your pledge or make a gift you can do so by clicking here. If you’d like to give by check, you may place your contribution in the offering plate on Sunday or drop off at the Church Office. The week of December 25th, the Church Office will be open Wednesday and Thursday, December 27 & 28 from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm. All other days through December 31, you may place your gifts in the designated lockbox on the Administrative Hall door at the Church Office (please enter through front doors by the exterior mailboxes between 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.)

Friends…I’m so very grateful for you who are continuing to pledge and for your meeting your commitments for 2023. Thank you for your generosity, for your faith and faithfulness.

Upcoming Events

  • Blue Christmas – The Longest Night Prayer Service – THIS Thursday, Dec 21, 7 pm. Details.
  • Christmas Eve ServicesThere will be one combined regular morning worship at 9:30 am in the Sanctuary and an early Kids & Family Christmas Eve Worship at 1:00 pm in the Gym followed by a Live Nativity in the Courtyard. Candlelight Services with Communion: Kids & Family Worship at 2:30 & 4:00 pm (Gym), Contemporary at 6 pm & Traditional at 9 & 11 pm. (Services Livestreamed at 9:30 am and 6:00, 9:00 & 11:00 pm)
  • Casual Worship on Sunday, December 31 at 9:30 am (No 8:15 or 11:00 am – this date only, No Kids or Youth Small Groups, Nursery is available for kids 3 & under.)

This Sunday in Worship

This Sunday morning, with one sanctuary service at 9:30 am, we will share together in the final/fourth Sunday of Advent. Pastor Paul will be preaching and continue with our worship series, Be the Gift. In this series we are calling each of us to prepare our hearts, our lives, our relationships, and our world to receive that gift of the mysterious, amazing, life-transforming love of God made flesh among us in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. But when we receive the gift from God, we are called to be the gift to others. This Sunday morning, our scripture lesson will be Isaiah 9:6 and Luke 2:13-14 as we grow together to Be the Gift of Peace. Pastor Paul says, “Ultimately, the peace we all long for in our world is a peace that is still to come; a promise not yet realized.” Then at 1:00 pm, our Kids & Family Worship will offer an interactive experience in the Gym with Live Nativity to follow in the Courtyard, complete with live animals.

In our Spanish-speaking CCH community, Pastor Roldan continues in his Advent worship series, The Clock is Ticking. This Sunday he is preaching from Luke 1:35-38 and Matthew 1:19-24 with his sermon is titled An Essential Requirement.

Our Kids & Family Christmas Eve multi-generational acoustic services at 2:30 & 4:00 pm in the Gym will include Candlelight and Communion. Christmas Carols will set the scene for an interactive nativity in which the whole family can participate with fun, excitement, and a special Christmas message.

Then, with our three evening services (6 pm, 9 pm, 11 pm), I will conclude our Be the Gift series with a sermon titled Experience the Gift from Luke 2:1-20. We will conclude all three of these services by the lighting of our candles and the singing of Silent Night. At the conclusion of our 11 pm service, we will make our way to the Courtyard and experience a Live Nativity with live animals and sing Joy to the World. It will be an incredible way to conclude the Eve of Christmas by celebrating the coming of Christmas Day. Why don’t you consider inviting someone to join you on the Eve of Christmas for one of our beautiful, heart-stopping services of worship?

Our Christmas Eve Offering will support Global Impact Mission Partners: Matthews HELP Center, Wajaró, and COSKids Child Development Campus. Contribute until Dec 31 by indicating “Christmas Eve Offering” in your check memo line, on the envelope, or in the drop-down menu online. Howard Thurman has been a deep influence in my life. He writes: “The true meaning of Christmas is expressed in the sharing of one’s graces in a world in which it is so easy to become callous, insensitive, and hard. Once this spirit becomes part of a [person’s] life, every day is Christmas, and every night freighted with anticipation of the dawning of fresh, and perhaps holy, adventure.”

Friends, I look forward to seeing you on Christmas Eve in person or online. The Lord be with you and I’ll see you soon. Grateful for you, so grateful.

And now, as always, during these strange, uncertain, and yet, joyful days, remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.

Be the Gift of Peace,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II

On behalf of the staff and lay leadership communities of Matthews United Methodist, I wish you and your loved ones a joyous Christmas and a blessed New Year!

“Today I bring you good news of great joy for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
Luke 2:10-11



Did you know that Jeff Powell was in the Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts production of Scrooge: The Musical? He played the part of the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Did you know that the Parousia Sunday School Class volunteered at the Salvation Army on December 14? This is their 7th year serving there during the holidays.

Did you know that MUMC hosted a Christmas party for the men at Hoskins Park? Hoskins Park is a Global Impact partner that helps men facing homelessness, drug addiction, substance abuse, incarceration and health concerns. This ministry gives them an opportunity to grow and build a Christ-centered life. THANK YOU to those that served, planned and hosted this event.

Did you know that The Micah Connection is collecting gently used baby items (bassinets, pack ‘n play’s, etc) and car seats of all sizes for the Latin American Coalition? This group provides resources to newcomers in our community. If you have items to donate, contact Amy DeVore at 704-815-1985.

Did you know that Global Impact volunteers delivered Angel Tree bikes, scooters, and helmets to the Matthews Help Center’s Annual Holiday Support Program at Town Hall? Susan & Steve Higgins, Beth & Ken Merchant and Steve & Sharon Norman delivered the items and helped set up the room for Matthews Help Center clients. THANK YOU, MUMC, for your generosity!