3rd Sunday of Advent | December 9, 2020
Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that Karen and I are so enjoying the Advent study we are leading on the Many Moods of Christmas. We’ve got a wonderful group of participants in our small group. Last night, one of our participants said, “Small groups are an essential part of the church.” I think they were pointing towards the community they share and the connections that happen.
I do hope you were able to participate in our Drive-Thru Bethlehem this past Saturday. 422 cars filled with travelers to Bethlehem made their way through the church parking lot to meet the Child of Christmas. Those attendees donated 125 bags of food to Common Heart and a car load of Winter Sheltering items to Roof Above! The event also provided the opportunity for dozens of families to drop by their Angel Tree Gifts. The hallways of the church were filled with gifts, and they are being distributed to these families as you read. God’s Light is shining so very bright from this Season of Hope event! If you missed it, we will reprise Drive-Thru Bethlehem on Sunday, December 20 from 5 pm to 7 pm.
Did you know that Drive-Thru Bethlehem was featured in South Charlotte Macaroni Kids, a leading online community for parents and kid-friendly events? Their subscriber emails and social media reach thousands of local families.
Some of you may have come to the movies in the south parking lot on Sunday night to see The Polar Express. Thank you to our United Youth Ministry for sponsoring this lovely evening of tradition, inspiration and connection.
As you have participated the last couple weeks in worship, have you noticed that the Christmas decorations are up and hundreds of beautiful lights hang from garland all across the chancel area of our sanctuary? As much as this year has been so different, isn’t it comforting to know that some of our cherished traditions remain steadfast?
Our hearts remain vigilant during this extended global health pandemic. North Carolina has experienced over 400,000 cases of COVID-19, with over 5,000 known deaths. Pastors, staff and lay leaders live in the tension of this pandemic season. Do we gather and run the risk of spreading the virus or do we remain safe and continue to take full advantage of our virtual platforms? We do know that houses of worship are consistently ranked among the top three settings for greatest risk. Therefore, your church leadership is continuing to make safe decisions by not gathering in public worship and are instead placing our energies in offering creative, faithful gatherings (worship and small group) through our online and digital formats. In this way we express our love for God, our neighbor and ourselves (Matthew 22).
There is no doubt that this is a unique Christmas. It feels like an almostChristmas. We’ve almost got a vaccine. We live in a world that is almost going to get it together. But we are exhausted from this holding pattern. We so desperately need Christmas, but Christmas as usual is not enough. So we sit in the darkness of the now. If you are wondering if the waiting will end, if the light will come, then Advent is for you.
May I also remind you of a few holy habits that are essential to our spiritual growth and well-being during this Advent/Christmas season. These practices will guide you deep into the heart of Jesus.
- Be regular in your online worship participation.
- Participate in a small group. One of our Sunday School classes would love to have you.
- Offer your time and energy in service to others. Read a little later about the Great Christmas Cookie Caper, the Matthews Help Center and so much more.
- Fill out your financial commitment card to be placed in the Joash Chest to help support our ministries for 2021. In addition, help us with our year-end giving for 2020.
- Join us in spending time every day reading the Scriptures.
- Invite someone to one of our online worship services.
- Pray regularly.
There can be no better preparation for Christmas than the one you do in your own soul. Let us all prepare the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight.
My Wednesday Devotional
I hope you’ll watch my devotional for today (click here). It is titled There Can Be Meaning Without Things Making Sense.
In addition, I hope you’ll watch my important two-minute message about year-end giving (click here). I’ve found some important information on The CARES Act enacted in 2020 and the helps it provides to you and your financial giving. Please click here for more information. Also, if you missed Pastor Paul’s December Update Letter & Year-End Giving Guidelines, please click here.
This Sunday (December 13) in Worship
Please join us for Advent online worship this Sunday at 9:30 am (contemporary), 11:00 am (traditional) or 12:30 (Spanish-speaking).
This week our CCH community will gather for worship at 12:30 pm and continue the Advent worship series, The Most Awaited Return. Pastor Roldan will be preaching from II Peter 3:14-18 with his message, Growing in Grace.
In our morning services at 9:30 am and 11:00 am on this the 3rd Sunday of Advent, we will continue our Advent worship series, The Many Moods of Christmas. This week we’re going to have a chance to laugh at the joke God plays on Joseph, a young man who learns his young fiancée Mary is pregnant . . . and he knows he isn’t the father. My sermon is titled Christmas Laughter. You can prepare by reading Matthew 1:18-25.
And, as always, during these strange, uncertain and tumultuous days remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.
Come. Lord Jesus, Come,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know that Sue Sproat, Executive Director of COS Kids, is the recipient of the Nancy Glenn Award from the Matthews Human Services Council? The award honors those who have made Matthews a better community through service. This year alone, Sue navigated damage from a tornado as well as the pandemic. Through her diligence, Sue kept COS Kids open to provide loving childcare for the children of essential workers. According to the Matthews Human Services Council, “Under Sue’s leadership, the ministry partnered with other ministries and contributors to provide additional meals, cleaning supplies and meet other needs of their families who suffered the loss of jobs. Sue never loses sight of the staff that cares for these children.” Congratulations, Sue, on this well-deserved honor!
Did you know that the MUMC Men’s Group recently provided $4,000 to the Matthews Police Department for distribution as part of the Secret Santa Ministry to those in need? Individuals will receive a surprise $100 bill to help them though this holiday season.
Did you know that Sandra Conway, Executive Director of the Matthews Help Center, and Captain Stason Tyrell of the Matthews Police Department joined our Methodist Men’s Group at their regular meeting on Saturday morning, December 5? The gathering (currently virtual) usually occurs on the first Saturday morning of each month.
Did you know that the MUMC Angel Tree was able to provide gifts to 311 Angels this year? Thank you to everyone who participated in this Season of Hope Event. This year we received more angels than any of the past three years, and through your generosity we were able to provide for the increased needs.
Did you know that Global Impact used your generous donations to purchase over 200 lbs of fresh beef for local shelters? As a result of COVID-19, volunteers are not allowed to prepare and serve meals at this time, so the shelter staff is using all of their meat and supplies to serve residents. Charlotte Rescue Mission serves 130 men (3 meals/day), Hoskins Park serves 40 men (3 meals/day), and Turning Point serves 30 women and children (3 meals/day). Thanks to your financial gifts, Global Impact bought fresh meat and filled shelter freezers!
Did you know that members of our Sanctuary Choir came by on Saturday morning to help create our live nativity for Drive-Thru Bethlehem? Many thanks to Wendi Moskowitz, Angela Smith, Jill Stofira, Scott and Jill Willis, Mike Horai, Tyleta Morgan, Sue Demick, Tom Amann, Don Morrison, Philip Tate!
Did you know that members of the 9:30 service usher crew, under the direction of Lannie Clemmer, helped create our manger and nativity scene for our Drive-Thru Bethlehem? It is beautiful and we thank you!