3rd Sunday of Advent
Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that Pastor Paul and our many worship leaders launched us into the second Sunday of our Advent season on December 4. It was a powerful day. I was away participating in a wedding in Marietta, GA, but I’ve already watched our Children’s Chime Choir, heart-stopping music, flute choir in the gathering space, the truly amazing Angel Tree and surrounded by our beautiful decorations for the season. Just magical. If you were traveling and missed, you can view here.
I thought it would be good to share with you today about some recent media coverage around the NC Conference (eastern North Carolina) churches disaffiliating from The United Methodist Church and other developing news from our Western NC Conference. Most importantly, I want to share a few thoughts about our church, Matthews United Methodist (MUMC).
The word “disaffiliation” is probably, for most of us, a new word in our vocabulary, but it describes churches that are seeking to leave The United Methodist Church due to matters of conscience related to human sexuality (LGBTQ+ inclusion). Please rest assured our theological positions as given in the Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith in our Book of Discipline are NOT changing. We still believe in the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, salvation through Christ alone and the authority of scripture.
There may be more media attention around these matters between now and April 2024 (April 23 – May 3, 2024) when The General Conference of The United Methodist Church will be taking place right here in our own backyard at the Charlotte Convention Center. The General Conference is the one body in our denominational organizational structure that speaks for the entirety of The United Methodist Church.
Just to be clear, the leadership of MUMC has never felt our path forward involved disaffiliation from The United Methodist Church. We are confident that our mission, ministry, focus and passion for Jesus can continue as it always has – in connection with our United Methodist denomination. We will maintain our established Christ-centered course and remain faithful to the culture and identity that has made MUMC who we are. Ken Carter, our resident bishop for the Western North Carolina Conference says, “I want you to remain United Methodist and part of The Western North Carolina Conference. I believe we are better together. We can continue to be one church, living as a reflection of the body of Christ even in the midst of our differences. What unifies us is much greater, and at its core this is our shared profession that Jesus is Lord.”
We have an excellent Frequently Asked Questions from The United Methodist Church on our church website to dig a little deeper around these matters. Visit www.MatthewsUMC.org/The-United-Methodist-Church for a comprehensive list of past resources.
Friends, MUMC is vital and strong. We are grateful for the many ways God has continued to work in and through us. Every day of the week brings opportunities for making the love of God real to so many. We are leaning into the future God has for us, focusing on moving forward together. Those two words define us: Forward. Together.
God spoke through Isaiah (Isaiah 65:17-18) to the children of Israel returning from exile, urging them forward, and God is speaking to us right now: “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating, for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy and its people as a delight.”
MUMC is united, with one purpose, one heart and one Lord. Today, we choose to lean in and move forward – together.
Take a few minutes and listen to this short message from our bishop, Ken Carter. He gave this message at our Annual Charge Conference on November 13.
Financial Generosity Update
I’m so encouraged by your financial support these final days of the year. We had a very strong November. Thank you so much. We have miles to go before we sleep, though. We need $456,663 by December 31 to make our budget goals. Giving statements for 2022 were emailed this week, along with Guidelines for Year-End Giving & an update from Pastor Paul (click here to view).
Thank you for the nearly 300 Estimate of Giving Pledges that have been turned in for 2023. Your efforts help guide our Finance Committee in planning for another exciting year of making God’s love real by how we Reach, Teach, Praise and Serve. If you have been unable to make your commitment for 2023 you can do so by clicking here.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch my funny but challenging devotional for the week titled: Round John Virgin.
Christmas Week at Matthews
Visit our website here for the full schedule of events and services through the month of December.
I know you will make every effort to be with us this Sunday evening, December 11, at 6 pm for our extraordinary Christmas Concert with the MUMC Sanctuary Choir & Orchestra as they present Magnificat. It will be an evening you will not forget.
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 and friends are embarking on a special Advent journey. This Sunday, he continues with Advent themes while preaching from Isaiah 35:4-10. His sermon title is: Protect Your Position.
Our Family Worship this Sunday will be a special one! Jingle Jam will be an action-packed Christmas celebration for the whole family. Music, Games, skits and activities will help remind us what this season is truly about as we celebrate Jesus – God’s greatest gift. We’ll also have Christmas treats in The Commons after the service and an opportunity to make a gift for someone special.
In our morning Sanctuary services, we continue our Advent/Christmas Worship Series, Christmas: A Feast for the Senses. The last few weeks we’ve explored taste, sight and touch. This Sunday, we come to learn what it means to know God through our hearing. Christmas can be an auditory extravaganza of song and speech, of friends’ phone calls and joyful choirs. As you have, no doubt, experienced people who listen well usually give the best gifts at Christmas. Are we listening to God this Christmas? Where might we hear God’s voice? My sermon is from Matthew 3:1-12 and is titled, Do You Hear What I Hear?
All are welcome to come and join a special Sunday Morning Gathering Time with snacks and WillBeans Coffee (by donation) for everyone to enjoy the next two Sundays, December 11 & 18, from 10:30 – 11:00 AM in The Commons. We ask that children and teens are accompanied by an adult.
I hope you might consider inviting someone to church on Sunday who might need to hear from God.
And now, during these expectant, mysterious, longing and yet, hopeful Advent days, remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.
Waiting for the Light … together.
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know that Melody Makers, A Matthews Senior Adult Community Choir, directed by Craig Estep, gave a beautiful Christmas Concert yesterday, December 6 in our Sanctuary? If you missed it, click here to view & listen…you will be blessed!
Did you know that our MUMC Men’s Group presented $5,400 to the Matthews Police Department last Saturday to be distributed in $100 bills to those in need as part of our annual Secret Santa Ministry? May God bless these gifts to be a source of help and hope for those that receive it.
Did you know that Room In The Inn is happening NOW? Every Thursday night we serve homeless guests in the Commons and Eagle’s Nest. Please sign up to serve as a group or as an individual on Realm here. (Need help registering? View step-by-step instructions on our website or call the Church Office.) If you cannot serve, please DONATE men’s hoodies, warm coats, or thermal underwear, sizes Small to 3XL, and leave donations in the cabinet in the Gym Reception Area.
Did you know that Home2Home Ministries helped four families on Saturday: two Latino families, one family from Ukraine and one family with Changed Choices? This group of 11 volunteers weathered the rain and many flights of stairs to allow these families to better their life. We are so thankful God allows these volunteers to be his hands and feet to help those in need.
Did you know that the Facilities Team walked the campus with Deputy Fire Marshal Andrea C. Oprea last week? We successfully completed our fire inspection!
Did you know that 12 volunteers from our Matthews family put up the nativity scene in the Courtyard in the rain? We are so grateful to these friends, giving of their time to make sure we have a beautiful reminder of the lowly place Christ our Savior was born during this Advent and Christmas Season. A special thank you to Brian Brown for organizing this project. Stop by to take a photo for your Christmas card or to capture a great holiday memory or gift. (Post on social and tag @matthewsumc.)
Did you know that you filled needs for over 300 children and adults in our community? Gifts from our Angel Tree were picked up by Global Impact partners this week. THANK YOU for your generosity!