Thankful in the Tough Times

Thankful in the Tough Times

Published July 8, 2020

6th Sunday after Pentecost/July 8, 2020
Just these lines, my friends …

 to say I hope you’ve had the opportunity to view the wonderful GodStory from Lauren Smith. We shared it in worship on Sunday, July 5 for the first time. Lauren and her husband John have three children: Jackson and twins, Evan and Brady. They have been a part of our Church for nearly 20 years. Lauren is currently serving Myers Park United Methodist Church, where she is the Parish Nurse. You can watch Lauren’s GodStory by clicking the image below.  We share a huge “Thank You” to Lauren and everyone serving in the healthcare industry!

In case you missed my sermon from Sunday you can watch it here. This is the first sermon in our July worship series — A Church FOR the Community: Studies in the Book of Nehemiah.

Thankful in the Tough Times

This week, I’ve been thinking about all that has unfolded in the past few months. I was really overwhelmed, and I thought, “How would I even begin to describe these days?” Then a Bible passage came to mind… “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Amidst all the challenges we’re facing, there is so much for which to be thankful, yet it’s easy to lose sight of this. If I stop to do a personal check-in, I realize I’m worn out and becoming a little cranky at times (pray for Karen!). Slowly, my world has become more consumed with the challenges I’m facing than with the many blessings God has given me. Maybe you’re experiencing the same thing. Unfortunately, when this happens our world shrinks and so too do the possibilities we see in it.

Taking time to be thankful changes things, especially in tough times. As we consider this, it’s important to note that I Thessalonians 5 doesn’t tell us to give thanks for all circumstances. It says to give thanks in all circumstances because there is power in being grateful. Author Melody Beattie puts it this way, “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Therefore, when times are tough, this is precisely when gratitude is most needed.

That’s why I’m going to use these tough, troublesome, difficult, uncertain, unsettling times to be thankful.

I’m thankful for our amazing staff community. They are some of the most gifted and dedicated people with whom I’ve worked in 42 years of service in the church. During the pandemic they have risen to the challenge, worked extra hours and extra days, all so our ministry could continue strongly during a time of great need. They are extraordinary!

I’m thankful for the Administrative Council of Matthews United Methodist (MUMC). Recently, our Council met (via Zoom) to talk about MUMC — where we are, and where we’re going. It’s not a glamorous job, and the load can be heavy, but they do it because God has used MUMC to touch their lives and they want to give back to God in this way.

I’m thankful for our Key Leaders. They spend countless hours in meetings, all behind the scenes, working to ensure MUMC’s future is bright. Their passionate faith and commitment to the ministries of MUMC are truly remarkable!

AND I’m thankful for all of you! We are a community bound together by our desire to do life in the Way of Jesus! Because of this, we face the future with faith, not fear — a future filled with possibility.

All of this is to say that if you’re struggling and stressed with the weight of what we’re facing in the world today, then take some time to be thankful. It’s not a way to ignore what’s before us. Instead, God uses gratitude to strengthen our resolve and widen our hope for what is to come. I know in writing this, God has certainly used it to help me.

I invite you to pray the following prayer as we pass through the eye of the COVID-19 storm. I have adapted the prayer from a prayer prayed by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Gracious God, you walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We pray that those who suffer and are overwhelmed by the COVID-19 virus, by hunger or poverty, by fear or grief, be surrounded by the incarnate presence of the crucified, risen and ascended One. May every human being be reminded of the precious gift of life you entered to share with us.

May our hearts be pierced with compassion for those who suffer, for those who live daily on the frontlines of the pandemic, for your love is the only healing balm we know. May the dying and the dead be received into your enfolding arms, and may your friends show the grieving who must walk alone, that they are not alone as they walk this valley of tears. All this we pray in the name of the one who walked the road to Calvary. Amen.

Race Matters: An Invitation to Understanding

You are invited to view Part 2 of my series I’ve been doing with Leaton Harris. Leaton, Raila, Miia and Maison have been a part of MUMC now for several years. Click the image below for the video, and click here for additional resources on United Methodists Against Racism.

This Week (July 12) in Worship

We hope you’ll be with us for online worship this Sunday at 9:30 am (contemporary), 11:00 am (traditional) or 12:30 (Spanish speaking).

In our morning services, we’ll be continuing our studies from the Old Testament Book of Nehemiah. My sermon is titled “Becoming Brilliant Blinkers.” You can prepare by reading Nehemiah 2:1-8.

This week in our CCH community Pastor Roldan will continue the worship series, Living Under the Shadow of the Most High. His sermon title for this week is “He Who Trusts Has the Right” from Psalm 91:13-14.

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

Grace. Peace. Gratitude.
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II

Did you know the Faithful Next Steps Vision Team received more than 600 narrative responses to the survey? The Vision Team would like to thank the entire Matthews UMC congregation for your participation in the survey.  The responses are now being summarized and analyzed, and will be shared with the congregation in the near future.

Did you know that Pastor Brad Hopper celebrated his 15th year at MUMC on July 1?  We are so blessed to have him on our clergy team.

Did you know that John Ross retired from the company he founded, Eagle Engineering, on Friday, July 26? Way to go John!

Did you know that Howard Nussman retired from his 42 years with Premier Inc. on Friday, July 3? Congratulations Howard and family!

Did you know that with new policies for social distancing and mask-wearing in place, 45 boys and several adults from BSA Troop 39 attended a modified summer camp in late June? The weather was great and the boys had a lot of fun completing merit badges and learning skills in small groups. Everyone stayed safe and healthy throughout the week!

Did you know that over 40 youth and adults participated in 3 Love In Action service project days in June? Over the 3 days, through various projects, the United Youth Ministry supported over 17 different non-profits in the Charlotte/ Matthews area. They have 2 more days of Love In Action coming up (July 21 & July 23). Registration is still open for those dates.

Did you know that since March 19, Second Harvest Food Bank has:

  • served over 11,000 families at school-based mobile pantries.
  • provided over 180,000 nutritionally balanced food boxes throughout our 24-county region (14 counties in NC and 10 counties in SC).

Did you know that just last week, Loaves and Fishes:

  • served 1,944 individuals (680 children and 147 seniors) this week at mobile pantries.
  • hosted two Pop-Up Food Shares.
  • provided an additional 112 families with fresh produce and dairy boxes.

With your generosity, Global Impact’s Disaster and Crisis Relief and Recovery Fund made donations to Loaves and Fishes and to Second Harvest Food Bank.  Unemployment rates are extremely high, children are missing school meals, and many seniors are still quarantined. Thanks to your donations, we are able to help our neighbors feed their families.