Swords into Plowshares

Swords into Plowshares

Published December 13, 2023

3rd Sunday of Advent
Just these lines, my friends …

… to say I am still reveling in a Sunday of Sundays with beautiful 2nd Sunday of Advent morning worship and then, The Glory of Christmas in the evening. I was blown away by the beauty and sound of it all. I kept thinking, “This is our church! This is our church!” WOW! So many people that have been gifted and empowered to make God’s love real through music. A special thank you to our Sanctuary Choir, Joyful Ringers, Ringtones, our Matthews United Methodist (MUMC) Orchestra, Stumptown Brass, MUMC Flute Choir, Contemporary Praise Team and our Children’s and Cherub Choirs … all under the leadership of Craig Estep, Kathy White, John Woodall, Ashley Broome, Shannon Remley, Tina Fincher, Annette Clary, Susie Verrill, Karen Price and Joel Mullis. If you missed our beautiful evening, be sure to click here to see what all your friends are talking about. And if you missed my sermon from Sunday morning, Be the Gift of Hope, you’ll be able to worship here. You will not want to miss the heartbreaking but hope-filled story of Ahmad and Nabila Rasoul.

Remember, this Advent season, I’m encouraging our MUMC community to do 3 things: Invite. Volunteer. Give.

  • INVITE: Advent/Christmas Eve provide the times of the year when people look for a church where they can connect deeply to the love of God, especially people new to the community. Start thinking and praying about who you can INVITE to join you during an Advent Sunday or on Christmas Eve.
  • VOLUNTEER: Because we have more guests during Advent and on Christmas Eve than almost any other time of the year, we need people to VOLUNTEER. Help us park cars, welcome guests, greet families, pass out candles, and serve communion. Pastor Jenny tells me she has only 10 more spots to fill. Contact Pastor Jenny at 704-815-1917.
  • GIVE: Finally, we are a church that wants to GIVE back to our community. You can do so by the following:
    Operation Christmas Child – Dozens and dozens of households participated in Operation Christmas Child. Thank you!
    – The Angel Tree – Over 300 angels served among 6 different organizations. What you have done is amazing! Thank you!
    – Give to our Christmas Eve offering. Every dollar will go to COSKids, Matthews Help Center, and Jake & Lauren Jones with Wajaro (affiliated with South America Mission). You may not be with us on Christmas Eve, but you can make a gift by clicking here. Under Fund, choose Christmas Eve Offering.

I am so grateful for you and so excited for all that God is going to do in and through our church this month!

I’m continuing to sit deep with my prayers for peace in Palestine and Israel. Our Christmas carols sing of “Peace on Earth,” and this year that hope comes as a tearful, pleading prayer. I pray for peace for all God’s children, across the diversities of our religions and cultures. I mourn for each death, and pray desperately for mercy, justice, and peace. May God, indeed, transform our hurting lands and devastated communities into a place where peace can be born, today.

Wednesday Devotional

I hope you can take a few minutes to watch my devotional for the week titled, Swords into Plowshares. It is based on Isaiah 2:4, where the message is simple: God is going to bring about peace. Until that day, we must hold heaven’s blueprint for harmony in our hearts.

Financial Update: Close the Gap in 2023

Thank you in advance for a strong finish to our General Budget giving for the year. We have a long way to go in December, as we always do. To make our budget for 2023 we will need $321,000 (as of December 13) to conclude a strong financial 2023. Let’s work together and finish strong. If you would like to catch up with your pledge or make a gift you can do so by clicking here.

Upcoming Events

  • Children’s Nativity during Worship Services – This Sunday, December 17. Details.
  • Blue Christmas – The Longest Night Prayer Service – Thursday, Dec 21, 7 pm. Details.
  • Christmas Eve Services – There will be one combined regular morning worship at 9:30 am in the Sanctuary and an early Kids & Family Christmas Eve Worship at 1:00 pm in the Gym followed by a Live Nativity in the Courtyard. Candlelight Services with CommunionKids & Family Worship at 2:30 & 4:00 pm (Gym), Contemporary at 6 pm & Traditional at 9 & 11 pm.
  • Casual Worship on Sunday, December 31 at 9:30 am (No 8:15, 9:30 or 11:00 am – this date only)

This Sunday in Worship

We invite you to join us this Sunday at 8:15 am (Traditional; in person only), 9:30 am (Contemporary; in person or online here), 9:30 am, 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 continues in his Advent worship series, The Clock is Ticking. He is preaching from Luke 4:14-20 and his sermon is titled, Before Our Eyes.

And … in our morning sanctuary services, on the third Sunday of the Christian calendar, the third Sunday of Advent, we continue our worship series, Be the Gift. In this series we are calling each of us to prepare our hearts, our lives, our relationships, and our world to receive that gift of the mysterious, amazing, life-transforming love of God made flesh among us in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. But when we receive the gift from God, we are called to be the gift to others. This Sunday, our scripture lesson will be Zephaniah 3:14-20, as we grow together to Be the Gift of Joy.

What could be more joyful than our children leading us to the manger in our annual Children’s Nativity at the end of all our morning worship services? Our children need you here this coming Sunday. Let’s continue the season together, singing and praising our Lord. Invite someone to church with you. It will be a perfect day to share the joy of the children of MUMC. (Note that there are no Sunday Small Groups for Kids December 17, 24 or 31.)

And now, as always, during these strange, uncertain, and yet, joyful days, remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.

Be the Gift of Joy,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II

Did you know Terry Efird retires as the Chief Financial Offer of Charlotte Christian School this Friday, December 15? He has 20 years of faithful service in helping young people learn to do life in the Way of Jesus. Congratulations, Terry! We see so much of your handiwork every time we drive by the beautiful campus. AMAZING! Well done, good and faithful servant!

Did you know that the New Directions Sunday School Class sponsored a Christmas luncheon for the MUMC Facilities Team last Wednesday? This luncheon was a follow-up to a lesson from Right Now Media entitled One at a Time, which challenged class members to show appreciation to a group that might not always be recognized but contributes a great deal.

Did you know that Matthews HELP Center, one of our local Global Impact partners, hosted their Jingle Bell Mingle at MUMC last week? Our United Women of Faith provided volunteers to welcome & serve those in attendance. We are grateful for Matthews HELP Center for all they do for our community.

Did you know that over 300 people came together at Jingle Jam Family Worship on Sunday to enjoy an action-packed Countdown to Christmas celebration? After the service, kids colored Holiday placemats during a Mission opportunity benefitting our friends at Friendship Trays.