Strolling With Wonder

Strolling With Wonder

Published May 20, 2020

7th Sunday of Easter/Memorial Day Weekend/May 20, 2020
Just these lines, my friends …

… to say that I hope you were able to join us on Sunday for worship. I continued our look at John 3 and the encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus. You can watch here: 9:30 contemporary and 11:00 traditional.

Also, this past Sunday afternoon, Pastor Paul commissioned five new Stephen Ministers. Stephen Ministers are laypersons – Christian men and women – trained to provide one-to-one care to people experiencing a difficult time in life, such as grief, divorce, job loss, chronic or terminal illness, relocation or separation due to military deployment. They are gifts to us.  Our newest Stephen Ministers are: Ruth Andrews, Marge Averill, Mary Ayers, Allycia Brown and Vivienne Buszko.

Memorial Day Weekend

Last year Karen and I were in Pinehurst for a few days before Memorial Day. The Village of Pinehurst decorates with flags everywhere in anticipation of Memorial Day Weekend. They plant hundreds of American flags along the roads and walking trails. It is impossible to walk along these corridors without a strong sense of gratitude for those who have lived and died in service to our country.

Ordinarily, I might have walked rather briskly through an area like the one in Pinehurst, but with the flags proudly waving in the gentle breeze I could not help but stroll with wonder, because each flag is placed in honor of a particular soldier. Many family members attach pictures and stories for those who linger long enough to receive.

This morning, as I write, I’m thinking of Private Grady Hooks who lost his life on Armistice Day 1918, just hours before the armistice was signed ending World War I. Private Hooks was a member of Matthews Methodist Church.

I believe Memorial Day is a time for more than just remembering the dead and planting a flag on a grave, as significant as that may be.  It is a time to renew our commitment to fight against the evils for which they gave their lives – racism and white supremacy, antisemitism and nationalistic jingoism.

One flag. One story. One sacrifice. One more reminder of gratitude.

God’s peace to you on this Memorial Day Weekend!

Endurance During Days of Quarantine

David Brooks writes in the New York Times that we are about to enter the “endurance phase” of this pandemic. He writes, “… endurance is living with uncertainty. Sometimes, it’s remaining quiet in the face of uncertainty because no conjecture will really tell you what is coming. Endurance is the knowledge that the only way out is through and whatever must be borne will be borne.” It will take stamina to not know what is going to happen for so many weeks, and now months, on end.

In Romans 5, the Apostle Paul writes: “And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

Certainly, our suffering apart has produced a different kind of endurance in us, as we wait with hope for a different kind of day. We are weary as we wait for the coronavirus pandemic to end, or at least abate. Yet we are clear here at the Church that our hope is not in any date on a calendar, but in the love and grace of our God. While we are eager to begin being together again, even in a smaller fashion, we continue to proceed with an abundance of caution.

A part of that caution is the knowledge that our endurance needs practice for it to be endurance. There are four things that experts are saying we should get good at, to return to some kind of normal: frequent hand washing, mask wearing, strict monitoring of our health, and social distancing (6 feet apart). These are things we will all need to get good at in these next few months!

We hope for a day where we can be together again, and we practice for that day, too. Your staff community is hard at work making this practice a reality so that we might gather with you in safe and socially-distanced ways. This hope does not disappoint us, because it is grounded in the love of God and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Until then may it be said of our MUMC community that we did all we could to help stop the spread of COVID -19 while caring for those who were in need.

You can click here for some decisions already made for the summer weeks ahead.

In addition, you can click here to read a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on our Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) loan/grant we’ve received in the last few days.

Last Chance: Congregational Survey

Please take a few moments this week to complete the congregational survey from our Faithful Next Steps Vision Team.  This team has been hard at work meeting with small groups, and requests that each member of the family – Youth, Young Adult and Adults – take this very important survey to help determine our faithful next steps at Matthews UMC. Click here to complete the survey by Friday, May 22.

This Sunday (May 24) in Worship

I hope you can join us here this Sunday for one of our two morning online services, at 9:30 am or 11:00 am.

Our CCH community is now streaming their worship service on their Facebook page, Centro Cristiano Hosanna each Sunday at 12:30 pm. Pastor Roldan will continue with the series: The Positive Side of the Crisis. His sermon for Sunday is titled, “A Luxury We Cannot Afford” from Genesis 32:22-30.

I am so grateful for the ways you have attended to the life of our Church during these days – caring for one another, praying for one another, finding avenues of service, and joining in worship. May God bless you in this season of pause, and bring us all into a new season of the Spirit of Pentecost!

Remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.

Keeping hope alive,

Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II

Did you know that our Global Impact Disaster and Crisis Relief/Recovery Fund sent a donation to Common Heart in Indian Trial?  They focus on food pantries, thrift stores and economic empowerment for our neighbors in Union County.

Did you know that volunteers from our Global impact efforts distributed 99 hand-sewn face masks to our friends at Turning Point, Changed Choices, Matthews Help Center and Hoskins Park?  We have a terrific sewing team of eight ladies that sew face masks for those in our community.