Ash Wednesday/First Sunday of Lent/February 26, 2020
Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that the last few days have been so special:
- The days included our 9th Forum on Racial-Bridge Building. A number of us gathered at Matthews Presbyterian where we heard from Pam Kelley, the author of Money Rock: A Family’s Story of Cocaine, Race, and Ambition in the New South. The book is a deeply American story about how social forces, public policies, racism, segregation, the war on drugs, and mass incarceration – help shape individual destinies. It is based on a 1983 Charlotte shootout that shocked the city, a failed FBI sting, and a trial with a judge known as Maximum Bob. You might want to pick up a copy of the book here.
- The days included the 3rd week of our Global Impact Celebration and time with Rev. Gaston Warner, the CEO of Zoe Empowers. You can watch his presentation from Saturday morning here, and his message from Sunday morning here.
- The days included a beautiful Night of Worship with our Youth Praise Bands and Rev. Warner. He engaged all of us more deeply with stories of children from Zoe Empowers. By the way, our youth and all those that work with them are the best.
- The days brought to a close our 10-Year Global Impact Celebration (GIC). I hope you and your household will join the last year’s 282 households making financial and service commitments to our GIC. Extra commitment cards are available at the Welcome Center.
Ash Wednesday and the Season of Lent
Happy Ash Wednesday! Today (February 26) marks the beginning of the journey of Lent. The word Lent comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word for lengthen. This season marks the lengthening of the days as spring approaches. Just think…by the end of this season, Easter Sunday (April 12), there will be flowers everywhere!
In the earliest days of Christianity, the hours Jesus’ body lay in the tomb (40 hours) were commemorated with a vigil ending at dawn on Easter morning. Eventually six days were added to mark all of the events of Holy Week. By the time of Charlemagne, the six days were stretched into 36 as a tithe (10%) of the year. We give ten percent of our year to special practices and devotions honoring the sacrifice of Christ. Finally, four days were added to the 36 in keeping with the biblical significance of 40: 40 days and nights it rained during the days of Noah; 40 years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness; 40 days Jesus fasted in the wilderness, etc.
We speak of the Sundays IN Lent rather than OF Lent, because the Sundays are not counted. We can break from fasts and observances to celebrate in worship.
Ash Wednesday starts this journey to the empty tomb by remembering that from dust we came and to dust we shall return. We receive the sign of the cross smudged on our foreheads with ashes made from the burned palm fronds of last year’s Palm Sunday. The burned “alleluias” become our sign of future hope.
I look forward to seeing you tonight at 7 pm in the Sanctuary for our Ash Wednesday service. This is one of my favorite worship experiences of the year. I hope you’ll be present. Pastor Paul has prepared an outstanding message to launch us into this most holy season. By the way, we will be live streaming the service. You can watch here.
“Lent is a spiritual season which calls for greater openness to the word of God and conversion in every area of our lives. It is a time to face the darkness within and expose it to the light. Lent is the season to confront our demons and expel them.”
– Michael Ford, Eternal Seasons
Matthews United Methodist Endowment
These are momentous days for our still fledgling Endowment. Chartered in the late Fall of 2017, 2018 brought our first report…and now with the conclusion of 2019, our second annual report. You can read our 2019 report to the congregation here.
A Need for a Leader
It has been my experience that in the church most everything rises and falls on leadership. We have a need for someone to give leadership to our Shut-In Meals ministry. In the past, this area of ministry was guided by a remarkable staff person, Judy Suarez. With Judy’s retirement and our job realignments of the past year, this particular work area will no longer be able to be supported by a staff position. We need a gifted lay person with a calling.
If you feel a nudging in this area, please let me know.
Don’t Miss Dates & This Sunday
I hope you won’t miss these upcoming events and opportunities: Ash Wednesday Service tonight at 7 pm in the Sanctuary; Annual Men’s Retreat on April 24-26; Prayer for the General Conference of The United Methodist Church (May 5-15; please join me in praying this prayer that I’ve written).
This Sunday we launch our Lenten emphasis that we’ve titled Questions We Hear Jesus Asking. We will be looking at several of the questions Jesus asks on his way to the Cross. Our first one is from Mark 10:32-45, where Jesus asks, “What Do You Want?” You can read more about our Lenten series here.
On this first Sunday in Lent, our CCH community and Pastor Roldan will begin a new series, More Than Numbers. He will be teaching from Luke 14:25-33, and the title of his message: The Payment We Should Not Neglect.
As always, I’m so excited to welcome you on Sunday (the first Sunday of Lent) to the Table of our Lord.
Following Jesus Together,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know that $2,556.85 dollars and 532 pounds of food were collected by our United Youth on Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday? The funds and food donations collected will be disbursed between: Common Heart, The Community Shelter of Union County, Loaves and Fishes, Matthews HELP Center, Salvation Army Center of Hope, MUMC’s Feed the People, and Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church’s Food Pantry.
Did you know that Music & Arts Camp registration filled up in just over two hours? We look forward to the public performance of “Jonah’s Druthers – A Whale of a Tale from the Good Book” on July 24 at 7 pm.
Did you know the Servant’s Heart Circle made 8 blankets for Bright Blessings at their meeting this month? This mission-minded group of women meets monthly to serve various local mission organizations.