Shifting Gears

Shifting Gears

Published June 10, 2020

2nd Sunday after Pentecost/June 10, 2020
Just these lines, my friends …

to say that hundreds of people gathered Sunday afternoon on the Matthews Town Hall to share a message of solidarity against racism in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. A number of town leaders spoke, including Pastor and Councilman Rev. Larry Whitley, our very own Mayor John Higdon, and Police Chief Clark Pennington. Former Butler student Camille Harvell (now a student at NYU) and Matthews resident Connie Green-Johnson delivered powerful messages of accountability. The afternoon ended with prayers for peace, healing, and change. I’m so thankful that Matthews United Methodist was so well represented among those gathered. Thank you.

This past Sunday I preached about forgiveness. If you missed it, you can watch the message here.

As I was praying about my message last week, I remembered a song by the Avett Brothers. The song is titled No Hard Feelings. It is a powerful and haunting song about imagining the moment when death approaches. It describes a departure steeped in forgiveness. I hope you will give it a watch/listen (click here).

Shifting Gears

I taught three of my children to drive a stick shift in the hills of the Emerywood neighborhood in High Point, NC. It was quite an experience! There are a lot of steep hills in that beautiful neighborhood, and there is an art to letting out the clutch while giving it gas. If you get it wrong, the vehicle either conks out or bucks like a bronco.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make it easy for any of them. For Molly, I accidentally had it in third gear, which makes it next to impossible to get going. And for my boys, I forgot that I had the parking brake on. Despite this, all the children learned to successfully get the vehicle moving in first gear.

Here’s an interesting observation about this process. Once they got the hang of it, they wanted to go faster and shift to the next gear, and then faster yet to shift to another gear. They quickly went from the difficulty of getting the vehicle going to the danger of going too fast!

There is a life lesson in this. We are all prone to keep shifting gears so that we can go faster and accomplish more in life. It’s almost as if we believe that slowing down is a sign of weakness, and so we consign ourselves to living overscheduled and stressed lives.

Apparently, this is not a new issue.

We learn in scripture that, over twenty-five hundred years ago, Jeremiah said, “Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?” (2:25). Evidently, a part of the human condition is trying to go faster when we don’t always know where we’re going. There is a need to create space in our lives to consider where we are and where we’re going. As Brenè Brown says, we need stillness in our lives. She says that “Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it’s about creating a clearing. It’s opening up an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question.”

My prayer for us all is that this summer we get a chance to slow down and create a clearing in our lives. We need to stop and ask God, “Just what am I after anyway?” We need to take time to consider what’s most important in our lives, and to discern what we can let go of and what needs to be a part of our lives.

Some Dates for Your Calendar

  • COVID Conversation #1 on Tuesday, June 16, 7 pm: In the months ahead, we are planning a series of online community conversations about the pandemic. Our first one is titled, “Lessons We are Learning From the Virus.” You can find more information here.
  • Pandemic Resiliency Videos: Rev. Bill Roth and Lauren Smith have produced a series of wonderful videos that I find so helpful in these days of pandemic. Both Bill and Laura are a part of the staff community of Myers Park United Methodist Church. Bill is one of the pastors, and Lauren is the Parish Nurse. I’m excited to tell you that Bill has lived in my neighborhood, Matthews Plantation, for 20 years. His son & daughter-in-law, Errett and Jordan, live in Brightmoor and are wonderful participants in the life of MUMC. Lauren, her husband John, and their three boys – Jackson, Evan and Brady – are right in the middle of all things MUMC. You can find more information on how you can view these helpful, healing videos here.

This Week (June 14) in Worship

We hope you’ll be with us online on Sunday at 9:30 am (contemporary) or 11:00 am (traditional).

This week in our CCH community at 12:30 (click here), Pastor Roldan will continue his series, Living Under the Shadow of the Most High. His sermon title for this week is “Protection Guaranteed” from Psalm 91:3-4.

In our morning services, my message is titled “And So We Wait” from Psalm 37:1-9. Thomas Halik once suggested that an atheist is someone who cannot be patient enough with God. There is a lot of truth in that. Patience with God is perhaps our greatest faith struggle. God, it would seem, is never in a hurry, and because of that we live with an impatience that can test the strongest faith and the stoutest heart. So, let’s talk about it on Sunday.

And, as always, remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.

We are in this together,

Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II

Did you know Fred DeVore was elected a Trustee of the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church? Fred is a long-time member of MUMC serving in many capacities. He also serves as Counsel for MUMC on many matters.

Did you know another one of the outstanding attorneys in MUMC, Heath Gilbert, is the newly-elected Chair of the Mecklenburg County Bar Association? Way to go Heath. Heath has also served as Counsel for MUMC on important matters.

Did you know that Pastor Chuck Wilson and Pastor Larry Whitley were interviewed together as part of a community conversations special airing this Thursday night, June 11, at 7 pm on WSOC?

Did you know that the Matthews Planning Board unanimously approved our Memorial Garden plan on May 27, and we expect to break ground by early fall! An official dedication service is planned for Sunday afternoon, November 1, which is All Saints’ Sunday. Click here for more info.

Did you know that your Global Impact dollars are at work?!

  • Donations were made from the Disaster and Crisis Relief/Recovery Fund to Common Heart and Loaves and Fishes to provide more food for their respective food banks.
  • We distributed 42 masks to Roof Above for our homeless neighbors.
  • Home2Home, one of our newest Global Impact partners, receives furniture donations and delivers the furniture to neighbors in need? Thirty-one households have donated approximately 184 items of furniture, and 3 truckloads of furniture have gone to Lumberton to help those people as they move back into their homes that have been repaired or re-built.  Home2Home has also helped five families in our community.