6th Sunday after Pentecost in Ordinary Time/July 17, 2019
Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that Dr. David Wilkinson…husband, father, Durham University President, pastor, theologian, astrophysicist and so much more, was a straight arrow for the crushing questions of our souls. For 48 hours I felt like I was sitting at the feet of the Rabbi. I hope you had the opportunity to squeeze in every moment with him. He personifies wisdom. On Sunday morning he captured the heart of John 1 by saying, “Jesus the Word shows us the truth of what the creator God is like. Jesus the Word shows us the truth of what creation means to God. Jesus the Word show us the truth of what creation is meant to be.” You can watch our Sunday morning service and Dr. Wilkinson’s sermon here.
On Sunday evening he tackled some difficult statements I posed for him:
- The Bible portrays God as violent, reactive, vengeful, bloodthirsty, immoral, mean and petty.
- The Bible and science collide on too many things to think that the Bible has anything to say to us today about the big questions of life.
- In the face of injustice and heinous suffering in the world, God seems disinterested or perhaps unable to do anything about it.
- In our ever-shrinking world, it is very difficult to hold on to any notion that Christianity is the only path to God.
- Christians treat each other so badly and in such harmful ways that it calls into question the validity of Christianity — or even whether God exists.
You can watch Dr. Wilkinson’s response to each of these statements here.
Tribalism vs. Community
We live in a nation and world which is increasingly divided by race, religion, ethnicity, political parties, economic theories, and national boundaries. These ideological partitions threaten our future with chaos, conflict, revolution, and war.
Karen and I were in Nashville recently for our son’s graduation from Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Management. The Commencement speaker made mention of David Brook’s newest book The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life. In the book, Brooks refers to the simmering enmity that pervades our world as “Tribalism.”
Tribalism connects people on the basis of mutual disrespect and hatred. It is a “warrior mentality” which places everyone in one of two camps: friend or foe. Life is seen as a zero-sum, culture war. If we win, they lose; if they win, we lose. Therefore, the ends justify the means. We must win at any cost, even if it means exaggeration, misrepresentation, and spin. Brooks also refers to tribalism as a loose coalition of “hyper-individualists” and “lonely narcissists,” held together by mutual loathing.
We all see examples of tribalism every day. It’s hard to read a newspaper, scan a news blog, or watch a television news program without noticing examples of tribalism.
Brooks offers an antidote to tribalism — “Community.” Community has nothing to do with alikeness or agreement. People with social, economic, or political interests can join together based on mutual respect, common humanity, and a commitment to be caring and supportive. Community substitutes “we” for “I.”
Tribalism and community are twins. They both bind people together, but one is destructive and the other is constructive.
What would happen if we chose community over tribalism? What if we disregarded the voices that divide us and listened instead to the people who cast a common vision? How would our political discourse be changed if we only supported news media outlets, politicians, and institutions that foster community? How can each of us insist on community where we live, work, worship, and play?
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.” (John 15:1-15 from The Message)
Rainbow Express Camp
What a week (July 8-12) for Matthews United Methodist. 367 people were involved in our largest Rainbow Camp in its 24-year existence. Dozens of young people told me it was their favorite week of the year. At least four campers that I know of keep a countdown calendar to next year’s camp. It is truly one of the finest things MUMC participates in all year long. I’m grateful to Rainbow Express Ministries and our Matthews United Methodist United Youth for the deep-level investment in the lives of so many persons with all abilities. You can watch short slide shows on the morning camp with children here or the youth and evening young adult camp here.
Good News for Matthews United Methodist
We recently received our annual audit from Franklin and Franklin, and once again it is was outstanding. Thank you Bob Healy (Finance Chair 2016-2018), Sheila Shirley (Finance Chair 2019), Lynn Robertson (Executive Director of Finance and Operations), our Finance Committee and all the others who count, post, and so much more with the many financial gifts you make to Matthews United Methodist.
The good news continues…Jan Coley was a member of Matthews United Methodist only a few short years. We transferred her membership from Matthews United Methodist to the Church Triumphant on September 29, 2018. For over three decades, she was a Flight Attendant for Eastern Airlines, traveling all over the world. Somehow she made her way to Matthews and spent her retirement years at Plantation Estates. She loved MUMC — the welcome received, the hospitality enjoyed and the community shared. I remember a hospital visit in which I shared with her that I had just come from a meeting with Terry Efird, the Chair of our fledgling Matthews United Methodist Endowment. She looked and me and said, “Chuck, I’ve left the church a gift in my estate. It won’t be much, but it is an expression of gratitude for God’s work in and through our church.”
A few weeks ago we received a $25,000.00 gift from the estate of Jan Coley. This gift has been placed in our Matthews United Methodist Endowment, and the interest earned off this gift will provide at least $1,000.00 a year in perpetuity for the life and ministry of our church.
Perhaps you too would like to consider leaving a gift in your estate, a gift that will give forever for our Endowment. If you’d like more information on how you can do so, please read here, or you can call the church office and ask to speak with Lynn Robertson.
In addition, may I invite you to join our Endowment Committee for a Lunch and Learn on July 28, 12:30 pm, in Room 158. Tom Dundorf, President and Managing Director for Family Wealth Partners, will be reviewing the impacts of recent tax law changes and how those changes are impacting your charitable and other deductions in 2019. Please RSVP by July 25 to Beth Lynn if you would like to attend.
Other Upcoming Dates
I hope you’ll put the “X” on the calendar for these upcoming events:
- Answering the Call with Rev. Nicole de Castrique Jones on August 11 – Our “Answering the Call” series has highlighted many of the persons who have answered God’s call to vocational service in and through the ministry of Matthews UMC. Rev. Jones is the latest to come our way in that long line of outstanding persons. It will be a real treat for us to have Nicole and her family here. Please click here for a bio and details.
- End of Summer/Back-to-School Bash on August 18 – Our morning worship services will feature Summer Brooke and the Mountain Faith Band — with a full concert that evening at 5:30 pm, followed by an Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social for everyone.
This Sunday (July 21) in Worship
Sunday will be another beautiful day of worship for the people called Matthews. CCH begins a new series titled Overcoming an Enemy Called Average. Pastor Roldan will preach from Numbers 13:26-30 and his theme will be Do Not Settle for Being Average. At 801South, Pastor Corey will guide us in week three of the message series War: Winning the Battle Within Yourself. This week we will wrestle with the inner desire to change our lives, which means we have to change the way we act. Come see what it means to “Act Like a Wolf.” And in our morning Sanctuary services, I will continue our Modern Family worship series. This Sunday I will speak from I Corinthians 7:1-11, and I want to speak of four commitments that every effective marriage must have.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday in our transforming community where everyone is welcome, nobody is perfect, and you just never know what might happen.
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know that Judy Suarez has served our MUMC Kitchen and Daily Bread Ministries for over 19 years? We appreciate everyone who has supported Judy with loving prayers for good heath during this time.
Did you know that MUMC has a NEW Password for our Guest WiFi? Campus-wide WiFi access is free for our guests by selecting the MUMCguest network and entering methodist as the password. If prompted, the security type is WPA2.
Did you know that 61 preschool-age children are attending our Weekday Preschool Summer Camp this week? They are being immersed in God’s love while sharing, caring, and making new friends. Our kids have been safari explorers with safari treks, scavenger hunts, jungle adventures, and will end the week with a safari tram ride and a family sing-a-long with the Jolly Lollies music group! Register for the 2019/2020 school year or request a tour at Preschool.MatthewsUMC.org.
Did you know that Gayle Smith has contracted with MUMC on an interim basis to facilitate our kitchen needs? Gayle is the founder of Dahlia Grove, an organization that empowers and inspires women rescued from human trafficking by teaching them culinary and event catering skills. Visit www.DahliaGrove.com to learn about the organization.
Did you know that Emily Gulledge has a passion and ministry for giving scripture cards like the one below to people she comes in contact with in the community? Thank you for your spirit to encourage others, Emily!
Did you know that our MUMC College Connection Ministry is pairing individuals from our congregation with college students to be a Friend in Faith? Help let our college students know that they are being prayed for and supported from home by contacting Tricia McClendon at 704-502-9705 to participate.