2nd Sunday of Christmas
Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that I’m still reveling in the awe and wonder of Christmas Eve and the days since. We had four in-person Christmas Eve worship services in the Sanctuary and Gym. Then on Sunday morning (December 26th), a wonderful group of persons came to our late morning and early after afternoon (Spanish-speaking) worship services. I was so excited about my December 26 message, Forward Living on the Road Back from Luke 2:15-20. Below is a little snippet. You can click to our message archives to watch all of it.
“Too often we simply adore the baby, and that’s all. Nothing happens to us, but not for these shepherds! These ordinary shepherds carried the manger experience with them on the road back. And the amazing result, according to Luke, was not so much of a letdown, but a glorious spiritual renewal. Yes, these shepherds went back to their monotonous and arduous tasks. The tasks were the same, but the shepherds themselves were different. They returned glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Now friends, nobody can camp at Bethlehem forever. All of us must go on from there. Jesus did, and if we are to follow Him, we also must go on. Bethlehem at its very best is merely the first step on a long, long journey.”
These days of Advent and now Christmas have been ones I will never forget. Bless you for your amazing devotion.
I also hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch my devotional titled, “The Child That Changes Us.”
Financial Update and End-of-Year Giving
God has a history of making a big deal out of seemingly small acts of generosity. Think about what God did with five smooth stones lying in a creek between David and Goliath. Or what Elijah did with the generosity of a widow and her last morsels of food. Or what Jesus did with a boy’s small lunch of bread and fish. Or how he marveled at the two coins the widow dropped into the Temple treasury.
The greatest example, of course, is how God chose to be fully revealed to us in the form of a baby, born in the most inconspicuous of settings. The story of Christmas reminds us that the greatest impact can come from the smallest of gifts.
Generosity also bridges the gap between being a church in the community and a church for the community. As we close out a remarkable year of ministry, would you help us prepare for 2022 through an end-of-the-year donation or by setting up a 2022 recurring gift to the work of MUMC? We are excited for all God has in store and believe we have not even scratched the surface on what God wants to do in and through this church to bless our community and beyond.
I want to thank each of you for the amazing impact you make for Christ through MUMC each year! I am so grateful to be a part of a church that values making God’s Kingdom a reality in the world. As I’ve shared before, 2021 has been a challenging year financially for churches across the U.S. and MUMC is no exception. With ministries and programs returning in 2021 and some people still not ready to return, we find ourselves farther behind as we approach the end of the year compared to recent years. Prayerfully discern your year-end giving, and if God leads you to give more as you have been blessed, consider that as well.
As many of you consider your year-end giving, please remember that donations must be received in our office or postmarked by December 31 in order to be tax deductible for 2021. Our office will be open for drop offs on December 31. You may also give online by clicking here before midnight. The church can accept gifts of stock, qualified charitable distributions from IRAs, and grants from donor-advised funds. Please contact Leigh Ann Fesmire, (704) 847-6261 ext. 102 if you have any questions.
The news cycle has been full of stories about Afghan families fleeing their country and being evacuated to the USA. Some of you have been inquiring as to how we can help those arriving in Charlotte.
One of the resettlement agencies, Catholic Charities, has been sent 205 Afghan people and is expecting many more. Some of our MUMC folks are exploring the best ways we can engage and offer assistance. You will be hearing more about that in the near future.
The biggest challenge is finding housing for families. Due to the shortage of rental homes in Charlotte, most of these families are being housed in hotels. There is an immediate need for 15 homes or apartments with an additional 10 homes needed in the next 60 days as more evacuee families arrive. Some of you may have friends or family with a rental property that is available. You can help by spreading the word about this dire need. If you would like more information on this rental program, you can contact Sam Hatcher at 704-906-2714.
January 9: Pastor Brad’s Final Sunday to be With Us
Pastor Brad is nearing the conclusion of his ministry with us. His new calling takes him to be a part of the leadership team with the South America Mission (headquartered in Fort Mill, SC) in mid-January. January 9 will be Pastor Brad’s final Sunday to be with us. I know you will make every effort to be present in worship to hear his final sermon as one of the pastors of MUMC.
May I encourage all of us to celebrate Pastor Brad’s ministry. You can do so by writing “Notes of Gratitude” which may be dropped off or mailed to the Church Office: Matthews UMC, c/o Pastor Brad Hopper, 801 South Trade St., Matthews, NC 28105. In addition, I hope you will also contribute to a love gift for Pastor Brad and his family by sharing a gift directly with him (non-taxable for him) or mail a check with a “Love Gift – Pastor Brad Gift” marked in the memo line or click here to make your gift online (taxable for Brad).
Pastor Brad and his family are a beloved part of our community. Let’s honor this deeply devoted pastor and family for their service among us with gratitude from the deepest places of our heart.
Faithful and Inclusive
Kathleen Benjamin and Sam & Carol Hatcher will be leading Rob Fuquay’s (former pastor of Matthews UMC and now Pastor of the St. Luke’s UMC in Indianapolis) study, Faithful and Inclusive. The study will be offered Sunday morning and evening, beginning January 9th for six weeks. Pastor Rob sent us a short video introduction greeting for the first session (watch here). You can register online for the study.
This Sunday in Worship
We invite you this Sunday to join us in person or online at 10:30 am (blended service; NO service at 8:15 or 11:00) or 12:30 (Spanish – in person only).
In our Spanish-speaking CCH community, the flu has hit in a big way, but their hearts are so big they do not want to put anyone at risk. Some will gather on New Year’s Eve for a backyard BBQ to bring in the New Year. On Sunday, Pastor Roldan will be preaching from Luke 2:46-52 with his sermon title, The Best Environment to Grow.
We will, again, have one morning blended Sunday Service at 10:30 am with Holy Communion. Pastor Paul’s sermon is titled, Blowing Up the New Year from Matthew 2:1-8. Paul says, “Many forces in human life can shatter families and ruin friendships. But we can defuse explosive situations by showing gentleness and patience, speaking the truth in love, and forgiving others as Christ has forgiven us.”
On behalf of the staff and lay leadership of Matthews United Methodist, I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year. In a sermon preached by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Christmas Eve 1967, he challenged God’s people to move into the year ahead with a renewed commitment to “bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism,” and work together to fulfill God’s vision for the world. Let’s make that statement our commitment for 2022.
And now, as always, during these strange, uncertain, and hopeful days of pandemic remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.
A Blessed New Year,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know Terri Cannon and Richard McCoy were married by Pastor Chuck at 10:30 pm in the Chapel on Christmas Eve? We are thrilled for the both of them!