Published November 20, 2019

Christ the King Sunday/November 20, 2019

Just these lines, my friends …

… to say that Sunday was beyond sacred for me. Your presence made it one of my holiest moments as your pastor. I loved watching you stream forward and place your cards in the Joash Chest. Thank you for your passion and desire to be a part of a Church that is FOR the community, FOR the World.

In addition, Sunday’s music was simply stunning in all our worship services: listening to you singing familiar hymns and songs of thanksgiving, beautiful anthems by Jill/Youth Choir and our Sanctuary Choir, our Matthews Brass and so much more. You can watch it all here. You can also watch here the short film I used during my sermon featuring our youth and children making Joash Chest commitments on Sunday, November 10.

By the way, we’ve had 404 United Adult commitments, 132 United Youth commitments and 43 United Kids commitments. There will be many more to come, but this is our best first Sunday since we introduced the Joash Chest. Thank you so much for your wonderful generosity.

Yet I Will Rejoice in the Lord

Have you ever noticed that obscure scripture lesson coming from Habakkuk 3:17. The text reads, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food;  The flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD.  I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

One little word “Yet” and the whole theme of the passage and the whole meaning of life swings in the balance.  The ability to praise God in all things and to give thanks for what was or what can be in spite of what is, the theme of constant trust and praise in the goodness of God, and for the gift of joy in the face of whatever life may bring “Yet”.

As I have watched scenes of utter devastation during the past year…the fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and so much more…this verse came to mind. I’ve wondered if I would be able to get anywhere close to uttering those words if I saw the whole of my community, my neighborhood and world leveled in a moment by the force of wind or rush of water. I look around my home, which I dearly love (perhaps too much?) and wonder what it would be like to see nothing but smoldering ashes where it once stood, knowing that all my treasures–photo albums, my father’s desk, my grandmother’s armoire, a painting of Karen as child — were gone for good.  Would I be able to utter with the prophet “Yet will I rejoice”?

I don’t know.  It is impossible to put oneself in the position, to stand where others of our sisters and brothers stand at some moment during this past year.  Or what about mothers carrying their babies to a border in hopes of a better life (not unlike our Pilgrim ancestors, by the way), or parents in Yemen who hold their children dying from starvation in the midst of war, or the hurricane swept towns of the Carolinas and the Bahamas?  Would I be able to say “Yet I will rejoice”?

I don’t know.  All I can do on this Thanksgiving 2019 is bow my head in humility and give thanks for the incredible blessings I have received.  I can hug my kids and hold my grandchildren and give thanks.  I can seek to live in an attitude of praise and gratitude, not just on Thursday, but every day.  I don’t know what I would do if I lived in the ruins of a hurricane or tornado or flood, but I can do this.

“How can I say ‘Thanks’ for the things you have done for me? Things so undeserved, yet you do to prove your love to me. The voices of a million angels cannot express my gratitude. All that I am, or ever hope to be, I owe it all to you.” (Words from the song, To God Be the Glory by Andrae Crouch) 

A blessed Thanksgiving to all of you!

Our Gratitude Challenge

We are coming to the end of our Gratitude Challenge. It all began October 30 and will conclude Thanksgiving Day, November 28. We’ve been writing notes of gratitude all through these days, one each day. I heard from so many of you who have taken up the challenge … and I’ve heard from some of you that are continuing on to see if you can put into practice the discipline of writing a note of thanks to someone every day for the next year.

Here are a few ideas for this week:

  • Offer blessings to a mother or father figure with a heartfelt “thank you” note.
  • Honor someone who has entered life eternal.
  • Give thanks to a person who helped you with a question of faith.

Some Gratitude Bible verses:

  • I Thessalonians 5:18 – “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
  • Psalm 50:23 – “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High.” 

Some Gratitude Quotes

  • Eckhart Tolle – “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
  • Alfred Painter – “Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality.”   

Upcoming Dates

If you will, please consider putting an “X” on the calendar for these upcoming dates:

  • The Gratitude Challenge through November 28, Thanksgiving Day: Many of you have read John Kralik’s book, A Simple Act of Gratitude, in preparation for these days. I’ll be referring to the book on most Sundays between now and the end of the year. You can purchase a copy at your favorite book vendor or by clicking here.
  • The Joash Chest: The chest will remain open the next two Sundays (November 24 and December 1). Please drop your card in the chest with all the other families/households in our church. If you don’t have a card, we’ll have them in the pew racks and the Church Office.
  • 2nd Annual Community Thanksgiving Worship, Sunday, November 24, 6 pm, Matthews Presbyterian Church: Please come and join us for a beautiful evening of Thanksgiving worship with our friends from Matthews Presbyterian, Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of Matthews.
  • Advent Begins, Sunday, December 1: I’m so excited about Advent together with all of you. Of course, the season will be filled with beautiful music, candle lighting, children, and so much more. Our worship series this year, Count Your Blessings, will continue our gratitude theme right through the end of the year.

This Sunday (November 24) in Worship

I’m always so excited to see you on Sundays. This week, we will watch an inspiring short film about the repair/rebuild work that our church community has come together to focus on for homes in hurricane/flood ravished Lumberton, NC. The story of Lula Dial will capture your heart. You will watch and give thanks for being a part of a community of faith that is making God’s love real in so many life transforming ways.

On Sunday, I’m getting an early start on our Advent worship series called Count Your Blessings with a message titled “When You’re in Captivity, There is Comfort.” Our scripture lesson is from Isaiah 40:1-5.

By the way, have I told you lately how grateful I am to be your pastor?

I’m Counting my Blessings,

Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II

Did you know that Allie Little and Cam Waterson were engaged to be married last Saturday? Allie has been part of our church community for decades and helps to lead Rainbow Express Ministries!

Did you know former members, David & Kathy Holland were with us in church this past Sunday, November 24. Their son, Rev. Dr. Drew Holland, is on the pastoral staff of the First United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Alabama. Rev. Holland received his call to ministry right here among the people of MUMC.

Did you know that 786 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes were filled by our Matthews UMC community?