The First Sunday of Advent/November 27, 2019
Just these lines, my friends: Trust & Gratitude
… to say that Sunday was such a day of celebration: our 200+ United Youth and counselors away on their annual fall retreat; beautiful, majestic music in all services; and so much more. You can watch here.
AND how about the powerful short film about our Matthews United Methodist work in Lumberton, NC. If you haven’t seen it, I hope you’ll take the time right now to watch by clicking the arrow on the screen below.
I’d like to offer special thanks in several directions:
- Thank you to the hundreds of families/persons who prepared boxes for Operation Christmas Child.
- Thank you to the families who participated in this year’s Angel Tree. Did you see the gifts lining the hallways of the church?
- Thank you to our United Youth Staff and many adult volunteers who were away on Retreat this past weekend. They are an amazing group of adults who help our students in the Way of Jesus.
- Thank you to the many families of the Becoming One Sunday School Class who were here on Sunday afternoon preparing the church for Advent and Christmas. I wish you could have seen all the children decorating the Sanctuary.
- Thank you to the dozens of you who sang in the choir, contributed to the offering and participated in our 2nd Annual Community Thanksgiving Service at Matthews Presbyterian Church on Sunday, November 24.
Rev. Larry Whitley (Mt Moriah Missionary Baptist), Rev. Luke Maybry (Matthews Presbyterian), Pastor Chuck, Rev. Derik Timmerman (First Baptist)
Read below of a few more of the ways of God is using you.
- From a first-time guest on Sunday, November 17: “Thank you for allowing me to attend your church! Honestly, it was a great experience!! I live in Monroe but am trying to extend myself outside of these boundaries to make new acquaintances. I hope to return this Sunday!”
- A note of gratitude to MUMC from someone who is doing the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge: “We became members of the church a year or two before my husband lost his job. He was out of work for 3 years. Those were a rough three years for me – not so much for my husband. I worried all the time, but my husband never worried at all. Looking back though, it was Matthews United Methodist that gave me the strength, the fortitude and the perseverance to get through those years … I was able to find work myself. The sermons were always right on target with my feelings at the time – which was largely fear. I continue to be grateful for the church as I’ve watched my faith grow over the years. I appreciate all that is done to ensure that our church is a welcoming and vital place to worship.”
- Another note of gratitude received by someone doing the 30-Day Challenge: “I wrote a thank you email … to a good friend of mine. He is in my industry, 20 years older than I am and a really good guy. He and I had similar backgrounds: hard father, broken home, both in the military. He continually works on being a better person and is an inspiration to me in that regard. He asked me today to personally thank you for asking the congregation to do a month of thanks. He said it’s the best email he’s gotten and he rereads it regularly. I think we all assume people know how highly we think of them and how much we appreciate them, but like you said, “… feeling gratitude without expressing it is almost useless.”
Thank you, MUMC. You are a source of hope and encouragement to so many.
Most people do not realize it, but the purpose of a commercial is to make you feel uneasy. The goal of an advertisement is to capture your attention long enough to make you feel like something is wrong or missing from your life. Look closely at any ad and you will discover that they usually do two things: tell you that you have a problem and that they have the solution.
Marketers spend millions of dollars to send you a short, simple, and sly message. For example, drink this kind of beverage, and you will be the life of the party with your friends. Drive this kind of car, and you will be respected. Go on this vacation, and you will finally be able to relax.
Individually, there is nothing wrong with this kind of advertisement, but the cumulative effect of a marketing culture has a much more detrimental impact. Over time, the barrage of the consumerism trains us to be discontented, never to be satisfied. In short, we feel like we never have enough. We always seem to need just a little bit more.
Contrast this dissatisfaction with the words of the Apostle Paul, “For I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.” (Philippians 4:11–12 NRSV)
Paul knows what it means to be content because he trusts God in all circumstances and because he is grateful. These Thanksgiving and Advent days, let us remember that the secret to being satisfied in a world of dissatisfaction is the twin-engines of trust and gratitude. You’ll probably never see a billboard about it, but it is what we need most.
The Gratitude Challenge
We officially end our 30-Day Gratitude Challenge on Thanksgiving Day, but I’ve heard from a few of you that you continue on. In fact, someone told me they were taking up the year-long challenge. WOW!
Here are a few ideas for this week:
- Encourage someone who has made the church or community a better place.
- Write a note to somebody who tends to be negative or ungrateful and who could be motivated by your gesture.
- Bring joy to a close or special friend with your note this week.
Some Gratitude Bible verses:
- Acts 24:3 – “In every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude.”
- Psalm 50:23 – “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to the one who orders his way rightly, I will show the salvation of God!”
Some Gratitude Quotes
- Jean Baptiste Massieu – “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”
- Jim Fargiano – “Gratitude and love are always multiplied when you give freely. It is an infinite source of contentment and prosperous energy.”
If you will, please consider putting an “X” on the calendar for these upcoming dates:
- Gratitude and Advent: Many of you have read John Kralik’s book, A Simple Act of Gratitude, in preparation for these days. I’ll be referring to the book on most Sundays between now and the end of the year. If you’d like a copy, you can order one here.
- The Joash Chest, Open on December 1: The chest will remain open through Sunday, December 1. Please drop your card in the chest with all the other families/households in our church. If you don’t have a card, you can pick one up in the pew pockets or the Welcome Center or Church Office. You can also print one here.
- Advent Begins, Sunday, December 1: I’m so excited about Advent together with all of you. Of course, the season will be filled with beautiful music, candle lighting, children and so much more. Our worship series this year, Count Your Blessings, will continue our gratitude theme right through the end of the year.
This Sunday (December 1) in Worship
We have arrived at the beautiful, mysterious, wondrous season of Advent. Remember, God is speaking. Stay alert.
On Sunday, Pastor Paul will continue us on our journey to the manger. Our Advent worship series is titled Count Your Blessings. The scripture lesson for the sermon is Luke 1:5-25 and the title is Preparing for Christmas.
I hope you won’t miss a single Sunday during the Advent season.
I’m Counting my Blessings,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II