10th Sunday after Pentecost
Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that Friday brought the conclusion of 33 Days of AMAZING – Music & Arts Camp, Rainbow Express Camp and Vacation Bible School – all with nearly 500 campers and 350 volunteers. Just AMAZING! Here are some moments captured at VBS.
If you were unable to worship with this past Sunday, you can do so here. You’ll hear beautiful, honest, sincere liturgy, heartfelt prayers, moving music (including this Offertory by Bryant Crisp) in all three morning hours and my sermon, The Green-Eyed Monster, from our summer worship series, High Maintenance Relationships. Here are a few quotes from my sermon:
- Envy and jealousy drive people to do terrible things, and some of the ugliest things happen within families.
- The only solution to envy is that we need something besides ourselves at the center of our lives. The only way to be free this morning is to love something else more than we love ourselves.
- God loves not our achievements, not our appearance, not even all of our good things … God loves us. God empowers us to be ourselves and not to envy others.
- Envy is deadly, not because God punishes us for having it, but because it kills us all by itself. If something in me dies whenever a friend succeeds, then I’m half dead already.
I thought I’d mention a few books I’ve been reading this summer:
- High Maintenance Relationships by Les Parrott – Of course, this is our traveler’s guide we’ve been using all summer as we’ve been working our way through these relationships. I hope it has been helpful.
- Unrelenting Grace: A United Methodist Way of Life by the bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference, Ken Carter. Friends, following the pages of Holy Scripture, this book is our guidebook for the new United Methodist Church.
- Shaking the Gates of Hell by John Archibald – Archibald is one of my favorite writers. He writes a weekly column published in all the major newspapers in Alabama. A multiple time Pulitzer Prize winner and son of a United Methodist pastor, he writes with wit and a sharp tongue, but he opens his reader to new ways of understanding race matters of the last hundred years.
- Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger – You must read this 2013 novel. On several occasions I was in tears as I saw life through the eyes of a 12-year-old boy in small-town Minnesota discovering the enduring grace of God. You’ll be surprised at the generosity of spirit that is at the heart of ordinary grace.
- Life Worth Living: A Guide to What Matters Most by Miroslav Volf, Matthew Croasmun, and Ryan McAnnally-Linz. This book is a guide to defining then creating a flourishing life, based on the most popular undergraduate class at Yale University.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch my devotional for the week titled, True Patience. I ask the question, “Where does resigned passivity end and active patience begin?”
The United Methodist Church Today
The United Methodist Church has been going through a grueling season of approving church departures. But amid the sadness of goodbyes, many annual conferences, including our own Western North Carolina Conference celebrates a renewed commitment to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Bishop Ken Carter, the bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference writes, “We are in a time of transition. We are on the way to a better church. It’s a time of active waiting and patient peacemaking. And we wait with a sense of promise. Don’t be demoralized if the world doesn’t seem to be a very peaceful place. Don’t be downcast if the church reflects the world. Don’t be discouraged if anxiety rules within your heart and confusion pervades your mind.”
You can sense that in our Matthews United Methodist delegates to the Western North Carolina Conference as well. There were 31 of us at Lake Junaluska. Many of them wrote me notes about their annual conference experience this summer (June 16-18). I offered a few last week. Here are a few more:
- Kathleen Benjamin – In his closing remarks, Bishop Carter exhorted us to “work for a Church that doesn’t exclude anyone” and “see the image of God in each other.” MUMC pursues this through Mental Health Ministry, Inclusive Grace, Rainbow Ministries, Bridge Building, Global Impact, and the Micah Project. While God may be saying “well done, my good and faithful servant”, I’m fairly certain He’s not content with us resting on our laurels.
- Don & Deborah Morrison – We are convinced that MUMC is focused on the right things and all of the efforts at inclusion, diversity, earth care, outreach, music, children, un-marginalization and missions are only going to strengthen us as a powerful ambassadorship for Jesus Christ in Matthews, North Carolina, the United States and the world! We will continue our efforts to be at “work in the fields of the Lord”. We were honored to represent Matthews UMC.
- Carol Hatcher – This was my first annual conference. I was aware of the schedule and the “business” of the weekend, but I was really blown away by the wonderful connection I felt between all the people there. And the connection for me was not that folks were reconnecting with old friends but that we were all coming together to advance God’s kingdom and to spread his love. It was so energizing to experience that connection. It just makes me feel that we have a lot to accomplish but that we can get it done…. together. It was also great to be able to spend some time with so many folks from MUMC. What a wonderful group!
MUMC, I can’t begin to describe to you how I feel about the amazing leaders that represent our nearly 150-year-old community of faith that seeks to Reach, Teach, Praise and Serve.
- Community Forum – Tuesday, August 15, 7 pm at Mt. Moriah. More info here.
- Hug-A-Cop – Saturday, August 19, 4 – 7 pm at Mt. Moriah. More info here.
- Back to School Carnival – Saturday, August 26, 5:30 – 7 pm. More info here.
- New Studies: Disciple, Beatitudes, The Good and Beautiful Life (In Person & Intergenerational Online Study), Luke: Gut-Level Compassion, The Anxiety Opportunity and Are Miracles A Step Away? View all opportunities.
This Sunday in Worship
We invite you to join us this Sunday at 8:15 am (Traditional; in person only), 9:30 am (Contemporary; in person or online here), 11:00 am (Traditional; in person or online here) or 12:30 (Spanish; in person or on demand here).
Our Spanish-speaking community will be inspired by Pastor Roldan this Sunday. He will be preaching from Psalm 23:5-6 with his sermon titled, Holy Dinner.
Pastor Paul will be preaching this Sunday with our 7th High Maintenance Relationship, The Control Freak from Genesis 15:1-6. Pastor Paul writes, “At some point in our lives, most of us will encounter controlling people. Whether it’s co-workers, family members, church friends or neighbors, we all have relationships with these difficult people. It’s inevitable and as Christians, we are called to love them. Does that seem impossible? If so, join me on Sunday, August 6 to learn some truths about loving difficult people.”
By the way, Karen & I will be in Black Mountain supporting our daughter, MacKenzie, in her ministries of Delight & For the Girl. This is the annual gathering of these ministries & we are thankful they are close by for us to support.
You know how I’m always inviting you to invite someone to church with you. Well, one of our new members shared with me the following just the other day saying, “My trajectory in life was altered forever because someone invited me to MUMC where a group of people showed me what the love of Jesus looks like when people live it out, and leaders invested their lives in my life. I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for people praying for me, inviting me, and investing in my life.”
Our community is filled (and growing!) with people who are new to the area, people who are looking for community, people who have never heard how loved they are by God, people who are under the assumption that they have to go through life on their own.
You and I are now the people that God wants to use to change someone else’s life. Let me say that again – God wants to use you to change the trajectory of somebody’s life. God is asking you to be someone who prays for their neighbors, who invites them, who invests in their life, who shows them what the love of Jesus looks like when somebody lives it out.
I know you pray for our church, community and neighbors. Let’s put our prayers into action. Who are you praying for this week? Who are you planning to invite to church with you.
I’m so excited for the season ahead and can’t wait to see you this Sunday.
The church never claimed that the corporately embodied good news will make your life more livable (Jesus suggested that it wouldn’t) or that you’ll find that congregating is a helpful technique to be happy. The claim is that congregating is the way that a crucified and resurrected savior has chosen to save the world and that your participation in his church is how Christ saves you.
Bishop Will Willimon
And now, as always, during these strange, uncertain, but hopeful days, remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.
Following Jesus Together,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know that six men from our Centro Cristiana Hosanna (CCH) went to Lumberton on Saturday to finish sanding a home damaged in recent flooding. Consider participating with Global Impact in a South Charlotte United Methodist Partnership Mission Trip to rebuild homes damaged in 2021 by flooding in Haywood County: Register for Aug 30-Sept 2 OR Register Nov 5-8. Experience not required; training provided. Youth 8th grade & older welcome if accompanied by a parent. Cost $80, includes room & board.
Did you know that Ralph & Brenda Messera gleaned the fields with Society of St. Andrews and picked 350 lbs of tomatoes that were donated to our Global Impact partners, Common Heart and COS Kids, and to Crisis Assistance Ministries? If you want to volunteer, register at www.endhunger.org for upcoming opportunities.
Did you know that members of the Faith Sunday School Class served at Matthews HELP Center, one of our local Global Impact Partners, this past weekend with some yard clean up & landscaping? Thank you for serving this wonderful community ministry!