O Long May It Wave

O Long May It Wave

Published July 3, 2019

5th Sunday after Pentecost/July 3, 2019

Just these lines, my friends …

… to say “thank you” for a wonderful day of worship. At 8:30 and 11:00 we concluded our service with a new hymn written by Choir member Darlene Presbo, Shall We Gather at the Banner, and our Sanctuary Choir sang a beautiful arrangement of Morning Has Broken. You can watch here or on the link below.


It was good to have Pastor Brad back in worship after a family trip to England. I love to hear our pastors pray, and Pastor Brad prays and leads in our worship so ably. Pastor Paul is having some good time off with rest, relaxation and family time as he monitors some health issues. He’ll return to the office on July 8, and we’ll see him in worship on July 14.

What Will You Be Doing on the 4th of July?

Perhaps you will spend it watching parades and grilling out with family and friends. Maybe you’ll end it watching fireworks over Washington and New York on television. This year I am struck again by the surprising realization that our national anthem begins and ends with a question:

“O say, can you see …?”
“O say, does that Star – Spangled Banner yet wave?”

That was a real question for Francis Scott Key on the night of September 13, 1812. British troops had taken Washington and set fire to the White House. U.S. soldiers at Fort McHenry endured 25 hours of bombing. It was a “perilous fight.” He watched in “the dawn’s early light” with anxious concern until he caught a glimpse of the “broad stripes and bright stars … so gallantly streaming.”

One of his verses we never sing repeats the question and answers it with a bold affirmation for the future.

What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
’Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Every time we sing (or attempt to sing!) the national anthem, we are reminded that the vision of freedom the founders of this nation dared to proclaim and the values the flag represents are always up for grabs. The project in self-government they began is never completed. We are always on our way to forming “a more perfect union.”

Every generation is confronted with Lincoln’s question that haunts the rolling hills at Gettysburg, “… testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.”

In his last words, written on the fiftieth anniversary of the 4th of July, Thomas Jefferson called us to “Let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.”

In spite of the “perilous fight” in which our nation appears to be engaged, the 4th of July lifts our eyes to see “the better angels” of our history, and strengthens within me the confidence Jefferson expressed: “I shall not die without a hope that light and liberty are on a steady advance…In, short, the flames kindled on the 4th of July, 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these and all who work for them.”

O, long may it wave!

Global Impact Moved AnneLeigh to Action

During our 2016 Global Impact Celebration, AnneLeigh Twer met a missionary from Egypt who worked with Syrian refugees in Egypt and Lebanon. The impact was so great that she committed herself to learning firsthand about forcefully displaced migrants at our own US-Texas border. She recently served side-by side with Myers Park United Methodist through Catholic Charities in Texas. It was an eye-opening experience for this high school student.

“While I was in McAllen, Texas during Holy Week, the most impactful thing for me was the shoelaces. At the detention centers as asylum seekers legally come into the United States, their shoelaces are taken. These shoes have carried these people’s feet thousands of miles to make it to the safety they will hopefully find in the US, and their shoelaces are taken here. It is completely dehumanizing and helps to increase the divide between us and them. … I had the privilege of walking down the hallways and letting people choose new shoelaces so that their shoes could stay on their feet. Until that point, many of the little kids and their parents were using a small strip of mylar they had torn from their blankets at the detention center to keep them on. Seeing this made me feel like I was in a third world country, even though I had not left Texas.”

AnneLeigh learned that there is a major difference between immigrants and asylum seekers. “Immigrants are coming to the US voluntarily. Asylum seekers are literally fleeing extreme and immense danger, violence, the threat of death…and are trying to find sanctuary in the US. The most surprising thing for me was to find out that less than 17% of all asylum seekers are actually granted asylum. The rest will be deported in the next 6-8 months because they are not able to make enough of a convincing case to stay.”

AnneLeigh recognized that there is a desperate need for manpower at the border, and encourages people to build relationships with Central Americans who live in our own community by shopping in local Latin bakeries or grocery stores. She also shared that Matthews UMC can make an impact in this humanitarian crisis by supporting MAP (Migrant Assistance Project), our ministry at the Greyhound Bus Station that provides aid to asylum seekers on the way to their sponsor families.

You can click here to learn more about this ministry and the ways you can help!

Other Upcoming Dates

Please put the “X” on the calendar for these upcoming events:
Dr. David Wilkinson on July 14-15 – This marvelously insightful and inspirational man is almost here, and I’m so excited. Dr. Wilkinson is an astrophysicist and theologian from the University of Durham in Durham, England. He will preach on July 14, and then lead presentations on Sunday evening and again on Monday, July 15. Click here for date time and location details on our site. I can’t wait for you to hear him answer questions like: How can you be a scientist and still be a Christian? Does science change how we see the Bible? Why is God so morbidly violent in the Old Testament? How do you read the Genesis narrative? Are we talking about six literal days? If you had 10 minutes with the great astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, what would you say? Why?
Answering the Call with Rev. Nicole de Castrique Jones on August 11 – Our “Answering the Call” series has highlighted many of the persons who have answered God’s call to vocational service in and through the ministry of Matthews UMC. Rev. Jones is the latest to come our way in that long line of outstanding persons. This is a real treat for us to have Nicole and her family to come our way. Click here to read Pastor Nicole’s bio.
End of Summer/Back-to-School Bash on August 18 – Our morning worship services will feature Summer Brooke and the Mountain Faith Band with a full concert that evening at 5:30 pm followed by an Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social for everyone.

This Sunday (July 7) in Worship

Sunday will be another beautiful day of worship for the people called Matthews. CCH continues the series titled Springs in the Desert, and Pastor Roldan will be preaching from Psalm 107:1-7. His theme will be, “Adjust your GPS.” Join Pastor Corey in 801South for the start of a new message series, War — Winning The Battle With Yourself. Sometimes we get held hostage by the version of ourselves we don’t want to be. We will discuss some secret weapons to achieve ongoing victory. And in our morning Sanctuary services, we continue our summer worship series called Modern Family. This week we are going to take a look at Genesis 11 and the story of Noah to see if we can find some defining characteristics of the kind of relationships in our families that enable us to make it through the storms of life.

One other note – A few Sundays ago, I had the privilege of walking the halls at Matthews United Methodist. You might imagine that this is a rare occurrence for one whose primary job is to preach during those peak hours. It’s nice to be able to linger, have a conversation, and pay attention to the Spirit of God at work in our community in ways I don’t normally get to observe first-hand.

One of the stops on my tour was with a group of students. They were attempting not to laugh with mouthfuls of water while hearing corny “Dad jokes” in honor of Father’s Day. Because joy is contagious, lots of paper towels were required.

A few moments later I witnessed small children singing and memorizing a Bible verse. I love the story about the young kindergarten boy that told his mom that he loves coming to church because “It’s like a play date with God!” How great is that!

I am so grateful to be a part of such a joy-filled church!

With great joy, I am your
Pastor and friend,

Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II

Did you know that Bob Aycock was recognized in a Matthews Beacon article this week? Read the article here to learn how he is making an impact for local non-profits, and follow Bob on Instagram for all the adventures!

Did you know that Ashley Broome, our new staff member serving as Database Administrator & Assistant for Adult Discipleship, was introduced at Coffee & Mingle on June 25? Welcome to the staff, Ashley!

Did you know five classrooms in the Preschool were painted by volunteers last week? Help paint the remaining five classrooms, anytime between July 22-26, by emailing Jeanette Winslow.

Did you know that 50 8th & 9th Graders and eight leaders served in Uniontown, PA, last week with REACH missions? Thank you to everyone who served and made this mission trip possible!

Did you know that 99 Youth and Leaders served last week on our Senior High mission trip in Baltimore, MD? They served 40 organizations throughout the week, including the Salvation Army, Moveable Feast at the Hampden Family Center, The Boys & Girls Clubs and Civic Works.

Did you know that $2,211.98 was raised to buy formula for Kidron Valley Orphanage in Uganda over the five days of Vacation Bible School? 407 kids participated in VBS and helped to raise the money for this Global Impact partner! Way to go, kids!