The Unstoppable Flow of Love

The Unstoppable Flow of Love

Published July 31, 2019

8th Sunday after Pentecost in Ordinary Time/July 31, 2019

Just these lines, my friends …

… to say that though I wasn’t with you in worship, we did give our best shot to worship with you by live stream. We were in and out with connectivity sketchiness, but I know it was a marvelous day of allowing God’s transformative work of worship to be loosed upon our lives.

On Sunday, July 28, during the 9:30 hour, we welcomed Maggie Johnson into the membership of our transforming community. Maggie is a lifelong resident of Matthews with deep community roots.

In addition, Maggie was commissioned for her upcoming service in mission. Maggie is a nurse and winner of the Fulbright U.S. Student Research Award, and will use her award to do work in India at the New Delhi Children’s Hospital. Her project is called the Alma Project. Let’s hold her close in our prayers as she embarks on this four-year project of service and mission. We are honored to have Maggie call Matthews United Methodist her church home.

Zanzibar and Nurse Midwives

The Wilsons (Karen, Gina, Ryan, Rosa, Chuck) are having a rich, rich, rich time in Zanzibar. Ryan (our son) and Gina (our daughter-in-law) are headlong into training nurse midwives, while Karen and I are helping out in all the ways we can — especially with laughing, dancing, playing and loving on our little granddaughter, Rosa. We are definitely on African time, and I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense. I’m talking about no hurrying, no busyness, and a more relaxed and minimal agenda. Our time is all about being with each other and the wonderful people of Zanzibar. As you can see, we are doing better on this beach trip than the last one (Note: my sermon on June 30).

Gina and Ryan are deep into updating the Master Trainers (Nurse Midwives) on healthy birthing practices and helping babies survive and thrive. Dr. Gina Wilson is the teacher and Ryan is logistics. The last two days (July 27-28) have contained eight contact hours of training. Today (July 29) they move out to the first of several settings across the island. In these locations, the Master Trainers become the primary instructors, with Gina available for any counsel.

Gina and the Master Trainers are joined today in their efforts by Dr. Jane E. Blood-Siegfried. Dr. Blood-Siegfried is a Professor of Pediatrics in the School of Nursing at Duke University and is head of Duke’s Global Health Initiative. She is an incredible addition to the faculty Gina has put together for this training.

Okay, enough about the training….let me be your travel guide for a few minutes.

I must admit to you, I think there’s something really exotic about the name Zanzibar. In fact, you might not even think it is a real place at all. Originally, I thought it was just a fairytale created by Disney creatives along with Aladdin and Sinbad. But Zanzibar is indeed a real place — or rather places, for Zanzibar is actually the name given to a cluster of islands that nestle in the waters of the Indian Ocean just off the coast of mainland Tanzania, East Africa. The two principal islands in the group are Ungula, also known as Zanzibar Island (just to confuse you further) and Pemba. Smaller islands are scattered around these, which range from mere sandbanks to those with their own ethnic grouping and a fierce sense of identity.

Most accounts of Zanzibar begin with a description of the port of Stone Town, the island’s capital by the sea. It is certainly an unforgettable sight. Minarets (from the Mosques) and graceful, curved towers rise above the turquoise waters, while Arab dhows with sails the shape of the crescent moons bob gently in the harbor.

Thus far, I’ve been drawn to three things — the narrow, winding streets of Stone Town’s old quarter, the glittering beach and the welcome of the Swahili people of Zanzibar. They regard hospitality as a sacred duty (WOW! Could we learn a few lessons here). The word you’ll hear first, and most frequently is karibu (“welcome” in Swahili)…and astonishingly, considering their painful history of conquest, slavery and revolution, the people mean it. And yet, I’m constantly reminded here on the island when I catch a whiff of a sewer drain and other pungent  odors that can taint the sea breeze … this is still a developing country.

Next week I’ll write more about Zanzibar, Dr. Gina Wilson, slavery and more.

Music & Arts Camp

What a week for over 150 campers who participated in our 2019 Music & Arts Camp. This camp is the third offering in our summer camp schedule occurring right here on campus at Matthews United Methodist.

Richard and Beth Hayslett have been a part of Matthews United Methodist for nearly 40 years. Richard wrote me a note about the camp experiences of their granddaughter:

“I wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed the “Fired Up” presentation Friday night. What a production!!! All the kids did an awesome job! Especially the ones who performed lead rolls. I can’t remember ever seeing such a flawless presentation by children [or adult presentation for that matter]. Great performance and great message. I saw a lot of 3rd generation families there too–Finchers, Broomes, Freemans, Stokes, and Kamps—I am certain I am missing some. Great community event!

“The Music & Arts week was great too. Emma Rose really enjoyed it. She would come home and sing the songs she worked on during the day. I have no idea how to reach the people who worked so hard to make this happen. If possible please pass on to those who worked on the week and the presentation.”

Thank you to: Jill Willis — our camp leader; Ashley Broome — our music director who has been with us in various leadership roles for nine years of camp; all the campers; leaders; students; music leaders; workers; parents; and anyone else having something to do with this special week! Watch the performance here.

Bishop Michael Curry, a Royal Wedding and the Unstoppable Flow of Love

I remember the first time I heard him. It was December 5, 2001, and the occasion was the High Point University Prayer Breakfast just a few short weeks after 9/11, when Michael Curry reminded us of the love of God.

Curry, the current presiding Bishop and primate for the Episcopal Church, when he spoke at the High Point University event and at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018 was standing in the center flow of Wesleyan spiritual and theological tradition.

David Fields reminds us in his book, Our Purpose is Love, that the Wesleys were relentless in centering the Methodist movement in the love of God revealed in Jesus.

  • Put doctrine at the center and you could end up with a cold rationalism that places a higher priority on suffocating dogma than on grace-filled relationships.
  • Put providence at the center and you might end up with a distant micromanaging God who robs us of our freedom.
  • Put holiness at the center and you risk becoming a self-righteous prig.
  • Put church at the center and you might end up with a rigid institutionalism that is impervious to change.
  • Put patriotism at the center and you end up with a jingoistic nationalism and a world in conflict.

Now, doctrine matters. Providence matters. Holiness matters. Church matters. Patriotism matters. But Jesus put love at the center (Matthew 22:34-40)…and so did Bishop Michael Curry. And so did Methodism’s greatest missionary, E. Stanley Jones: “The first thing in God is not truth but love. The Christian faith is not primarily a thought; it is primarily an act – an act of Love invading history to redeem us. The Christian faith is not a set of propositions to be accepted – it is a Person to be followed.” (The Word Became Flesh, p. 36-37)

Bishop Curry proclaimed: “Love your neighbor. Love the neighbor you like and the neighbor you don’t like. Love the neighbor you agree with and the neighbor you don’t agree with. Love your Democrat neighbor, your Republican neighbor, your black neighbor, your white neighbor, your Anglo neighbor your Latino neighbor and your LGBTQ neighbor. Love your neighbor! That’s why we’re here!”

A wedding sermon flows out of the same volcanic core of love and joy that should be the identifying mark of Christian discipleship. The Apostle Paul said the sure signs of the Spirit at work in us are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

May the words of Bishop Michael Curry and E. Stanley Jones be constant reminders of the unstoppable flow of the love and joy that erupt from lives that are centered in the words and way of Jesus.

Dr. David Wilkinson

Many of you were not able to be a part of the presentations by Dr. Wilkinson on July 14-15. I do hope you’ll take the time to watch him and learn from this marvelous teacher. His presentations were beyond compare. I promise they will be so helpful. You can watch them on our new Special Events Channel on Vimeo here.

Other Upcoming Dates

I hope you’ll put an “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.
  • Voices of Tank Town, Thursday, August 15, 6 pm, Matthews Public Library, 230 Matthews Station St. The Matthews Heritage Museum will host this program featuring a panel of residents including Harvey Boyd, Kenneth Alexander, and others. They will share their remembrances of their growing up in Tank Town. We know Tank Town today as Crestdale, one of the oldest historically black communities in North Carolina. This program is being held in conjunction with the exhibit currently on display at the Matthews Heritage Museum – Tank Town: A Good Place to Live. The program is FREE and open to the public.

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.

  • 8th Community Forum on Racial Bridge-Building on Tuesday, August 20, 7 pm – This is our eighth time to gather together to discuss racial bridge-building in our community. This time we will have the opportunity to discuss these matters as we host the first debate for the mayoral and commissioner candidates for our 2019 election in Matthews. The event will be hosted at Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church. Click to details here.
  • 4th Annual Hug-A-Cop Event on Saturday, August 24, at the Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, 4 pm to 8 pm – This day is so important. I hope you go by and join our friends at Mt. Moriah and Matthews Presbyterian in this community building event.
  • A Church-Wide Worship Series beginning August 25 – 801South, CCH and our morning Sanctuary worship communities will all be about learning this fall from Galatians 5. We are calling our series The Spirited Life, and the good news is we have been given a guide for The Spirited Life. In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Church at Galatia, he gives us a list of qualities called “the fruit of the Holy Spirit.” This list forms the best description anywhere of the character that God wants to produce in you and me. Why? Because with these things at work in our lives they will produce nothing less than a transformed follower of Jesus.

This Sunday (August 4) in Worship

Sunday will be another beautiful day of worship for the people called Matthews. CCH and Pastor Roldan will share a message titled Don’t Live Like Average as the Beating An Average Enemy series continues with scripture text Joshua 14:7-14. 801South and Pastor Corey will begin a new message series titled Hope in the Dark focusing on the book of Habakkuk. Hope in the Dark shows us how we can cling to God even when our circumstances are overwhelming, because He will carry us through the storm. And in our morning Sanctuary services, Pastor Paul will prepare a people called Matthews for the Table.

Thank you for incredible privilege that is mine to be one of your pastors. Let’s keep giving all we know of ourselves to all we know of God. It is never easy, but we will not be sorry.


Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II

Did you know that Peyton Holmquist married Parks Tompkins on July 27 in Lincolnton? Peyton grew up in this church and is the daughter of Mike & Beth Holmquist.

Did you know that the Handy Man Ministry began 15 years ago to support individuals within our church community, including elderly and single parents, who may not have the means for certain projects around their home? Various jobs have been completed including painting, small electrical jobs, building wheel chair ramps and so much more — all for no charge. Thank you to all the men and women who volunteer to complete these tasks!

Did you know that our first Ladies Game Night happened last Thursday evening at the Eagle’s Nest? Around 30 women shared in a time of devotion and played games. There was a lot of laughter, new friendships, and great food! Mark your calendars for our next quarterly Ladies Game Night on October 24 at 7 pm.