Listening Prayer

Listening Prayer

Published March 22, 2023

5th Sunday in Lent

Just these lines, my friends …

… to say that Karen and I had the remarkable privilege of spending four days (March 16-19) with 40 of the finest people I know. We enjoyed a meaningful time together: Hank/Tina Adams, Frank/Terry Brown, Beth/Rich Buchanan, Kristen Caine, Sandy Carson, Nate/Emma Clements, Earl/Jeannette Coggins, Jim/Lee Cornwell, Amy DeVore, Sally Edwards, Cookie France, Joe/Marilyn George, Lee/Janeann Goldstein, Carol Goolsby, Sam/Carol Hatcher, Beth Hayslett, Ron Headen, Jonnie Hildreth, Linda Linfors, Theresa/Reggie Mendes, Brenda/Ralph Messera, Brenda Murphy, Phyllis/Howard Nussman, Lynn Robison, Brenda Towner, Karen/Chuck Wilson, Becky Yates. What an amazing group! All of us lead by our incomparable tour guides Amy DeVore and Jonnie Hildreth and a one-of-a-kind bus driver, Cookie France.

We traveled on this pilgrimage of pain and hope to Montgomery and Selma, Alabama exploring the history and legacy of racism in our country, but especially how it relates to the Civil Rights Movement between 1955-1965. We dug deep regarding people like Rosa Parks, John Lewis, Martin Luther King Jr. and so many more. We walked amazing museums, fabulous exhibits, and heart-wrenching memorials. We sat riveted to Joanne Bland telling us about walking the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in 1965 as an 11-year-old. We enjoyed Soul Food at Martha’s Place. We sat in the church (Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church) where Dr. King served for six years from 1955 to 1961 and listened to Wanda Battle share with us the history of that church all within 100 yards of the steps of the Capital of Alabama. We spent three hours walking through an astonishing artful depiction of the legacy of black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence. We concluded our journey at National Memorial for Peace and Justice with a sobering examination of the legacy of lynching in America.

I pray that one day, you too, will make this journey.

A very special thank you to Pastor Paul for preaching sermon #4 in our very own pilgrimage through The Lord’s Prayer. If you missed it, I do hope you’ll listen to his sermon, Forgive … as we forgive. You can worship here.

Also, 100 households are caring for and nurturing over 330 caterpillars in preparation for the Easter Sunday Butterfly Release in The Courtyard at 10:30 am.  At the Butterfly Bonanza pick-up on Sunday, households named their newest family members and their names are now displayed in the beautiful garden outside Pastor Corey’s office. Be sure to stop by over the weeks ahead and check it out! Each household also received a packet of milkweed (the monarch butterflies’ favorite snack) and other wildflower seeds to plant, provided by our Micah Connection Creation Care group.

Women’s History Month

Just a few short weeks ago our Jewish sisters and brothers donned festive costumes and reenacted the ancient story of Queen Esther with hoots and hollers, boos and booze. The Festival of Purim remembers the story of a brave Jewish woman who risked her life for the sake of her people.  It’s a short book, one of the few Biblical narratives in which a woman is the hero, but there she is—Queen Esther, one of the first true feminists of the Bible. In March, Women’s History Month, we celebrate the story of women who have boldly followed in her spirit.

Every day, but especially this month, I’m celebrating my wife, Karen, my daughters Molly and MacKenzie, my daughter-in-law Gina, my granddaughters, Lola, Rosa, Lua and Lenny, the amazing women that lead our church, Pastors Corey and Jenny, Suzanne Pugh (Servant Leader for our Administrative Council), Beth Merchant (Servant Leader for Global Impact), and women everywhere, with a shared commitment to work toward a just, equitable, peaceful and flourishing world.

Join me in praying the prayer below for women everywhere.

A Prayer to Pray for Women Everywhere

Eternal God, who created us all in your image, and who desires justice and mercy for all your people,
hear our prayers for women around the world.

For those lacking opportunities for education, access to health care, and the right to vote,

Lord, hear our prayer.

For those struggling for economic, political, and social equality,

Lord, hear our prayer.

For those yearning for freedom from violence, and those subject to human trafficking,

Lord, hear our prayer.

For those suffering in poverty, and those hiding as refugees,

Lord, hear our prayer.

Hear us in our silent prayer for women near and far,
that they may achieve their full potential as your children, created for your purpose. (Silent Prayer)

Hear us, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom there is no male or female,
and who taught us to pray, saying together: (The Lord’s Prayer)

Wednesday Devotional

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch my devotional for the week titled: Listening Prayer.

The Prayer Labyrinth

This Sunday, March 26 from 8:00 am – 12:15 pm, we will have a Prayer Labyrinth set up in the Gym for anyone who would like to spend some time experiencing this ancient spiritual practice of reflective walking.

While the word “Labyrinth” is not used in The Bible, there are several verses that relate to the purpose of a Christian labyrinth.  In these verses, God offers to us the pathway to salvation:  1) John 14:16 – “I am the way, the truth and the life.” 2) Psalm 16:10 – “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with the joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” 3) Isaiah 30:21 – Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, say, “The is the way; walk in it.” 4) Proverbs 16:9 – “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” 5) I Corinthians 5:7 – “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

As you walk and pray the Labyrinth, you might consider the following:

  • Stepping into the Labyrinth move towards the center while clearing your mind, opening your heart, and bring your focus to God’s presence.  Let go of earthly attachments and contemplate your prayers or questions with God while you meander through the path.
  • Upon reaching the center of the Labyrinth, you come to a place of peace within, reflect in these moments on your relationship with God and the insight you have just received.
  • When the time arises to return, walk with Jesus out of the path and into the present with a renewed sense of self and purpose to share with the world.

I hope you’ll consider walking this ancient pathway.

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).

In our Spanish-speaking CCH community, Pastor Roldan concludes the study on The Lord’s Prayer: Let’s Follow the Pattern. He will be preaching from Matthew 6:12-13, and his sermon title: Let’s Not Lose the Right Focus.

In our morning Sanctuary services, I will return to preach week #5 in our study of The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:7-13). The phrase of the prayer we are exploring this week is, “… and lead us, not into temptation …” We’ll also be taking a long look at the temptation narrative from Matthew 4:1-11.

Join us tonight & then on March 29 at 6:30 in The Commons for our final Wednesday Night study on The Lord’s Prayer. There have been so many of you that have participated. What a gift of community and study with our deeper dive into each phrase of The Lord’s Prayer.

I hope you’ll be able to invite someone to church or reach out to someone you have not seen in a while. There is so much power in an invitation, and you never know who might need a word of comfort, or hope, or encouragement, or even challenge and engagement this week. I can’t wait to be with all of you. Have I told you lately how much I love being one of your pastors?

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

Lenten mercies,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II

Did you know that over 300 households are utilizing an interactive Lent in a Bag devotional that was created and assembled by members of our Age-Level Ministry Team?

Did you know that Steve Hall is the Executive Director of a noted non-profit in Charlotte called the Augustine Literary Project (ALP)? He’s been on the job for only about 6 months. ALP works to improve the reading, writing, and spelling skills of young, aspiring readers in under-resourced communities by providing free, long-term, one-on-one instruction from highly trained tutors. You will find their tutors in many CMS elementary schools, working primarily with first through third graders at Title 1 schools. Thank you, Steve, for how you love and care and serve. This is MUMC in the community … in the world.

Did you know that Pastor Chuck received a note from the son of a couple of MUMCers? He wrote, “I see you have firmly attached my parents to the congregation, and I’m pleased. We now share this family as well as God’s adoption. Thanks for being a safe place for my mother and father to continue to find acceptance, good work and meaning.” Honored to do so!

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