14th Sunday after Pentecost in Ordinary Time/September 11, 2019
Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that we had a wonderful weekend at Matthews United Methodist.
IT ALL BEGAN … on Friday evening in the Gym with a wonderful dinner and fashion show celebrating Promise Pajamas, a non-profit led by two extraordinary women in the life of our church — Valarie Ross and Debbie Vehr. The fashion show featured many of the children of MUMC. The Promise Pajamas motto: Sharing the promise of God’s love through warm and cozy pajamas. You can learn more about what they do here.
THEN … early Saturday morning our United Methodist Men gathered for their monthly breakfast of fellowship, spiritual growth and community involvement.
THEN … later Saturday morning we celebrated the 92-year life of Morris Gamble through a Service of Death and Resurrection. Morris is a long-time teacher of the Elizabeth Patrick Sunday School class, one of the outstanding spiritual communities of our church.
THEN … on Saturday evening our Marriage Ministry hosted a Date Night. 42 people had a wonderful time connecting with each other and other couples while creating a meaningful keepsake. Each couple painted on two separate canvases which, when put together formed a beautiful picture. What a beautiful image for Christian marriage!
THEN … Sunday morning brought music, prayers, baptism, 1st Grade Bibles and so much more. I hope you’ll take the time to listen to the message of joy shared with all our communities – CCH, 801South and Sanctuary – Irrepressible, Inextinguishable Joy. If you missed Sunday worship, you can watch here. At the very least you might want to read through my list of 8 Easy Steps to an Unmitigated Joyless Life. You can read the list here.
THEN … Sunday afternoon we welcomed our latest group of new families exploring a deeper connection with us through church membership. They begin their 5-week class this Sunday at 11 am.
FINALLY … United Youth and their families took over the building by 5 pm to welcome dozens and dozens and dozens of youth and their families into our midst.
OH, AND DON’T FORGET … we had five men serving on the spiritual life retreat, The Walk to Emmaus: Larry Curtis, Dan Meyer, Earl Coggins, Mike Martin and Scott Cooper.
Don’t you love being a part of such a dynamic, vital church! What a glorious weekend!
Trusting the Engineer
There is ancient Passover Seder question that asks “Why is this day different than others?” Well, the answer is obvious today. It is the 18th anniversary of 9/11. Some of you, in reading my words, may have just realized this is the day. Some are drawn to the date; others are repelled by it. Some vow never to forget; others are trying to forget. But whichever category you fall in, 9/11 is very painful.
In the 9/11 acts of violence we saw humanity at its worst. But during the acts of rescue and recovery we saw humanity at its best.
As with any tragedy though, healing comes slowly, and hope can be elusive. But for us, Matthews United Methodist, our faith helps to bring both healing and hope.
I love words. They are my stock in trade. But no matter how hard I try, I cannot find words to wrap around what we saw 18 years ago. The staggering tragedy that so many experienced left us speechless. I remember hearing a physician from a triage unit in lower Manhattan say that she was struck by the eerie silence of the place. Who could have imagined silence in New York City? Nothing speaks more loudly than that silence.
Corrie ten Boom was a little Dutch woman who spent most of World War II hiding Germans Jews from Nazi Germany. Corrie ten Boom died a number of years ago, but she left us with so much. Listen to these two quotes from her…
“There is no hole so deep that God is not deeper still.”
Here is the other one, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”
18 years after … would you continue to join me in trusting the engineer?
Pete Leo Transition
Both the heart and the music of Pete Leo have touched many of us in significant ways. If you have been around this community of faith just for a season, then you too have been lifted into the presence of God by the music directed by this man. We would like to express our deepest gratitude for how he has given himself so completely to ministry here among us at Matthews United Methodist these last 11 years. This Sunday (September 15) will be Pete’s last Sunday to be with us. You can read a note from Pete here.
Many have asked how you can express your gratitude to Pete, Laura and the girls. We are collecting a love offering for the family. You can make your contribution to Matthews United Methodist Church with “The Leo Family” in the memo line or you can make a gift directly to them. Your contribution can also be made here (Choose Other for the fund and add “Leo Family.”)
Dorian Relief/Disaster Recovery
I can’t remember talking about a single hurricane as long as we have with Dorian. It seems like it has been impacting people’s lives for weeks. Dorian has now become one of the top five hurricanes in history to strike land in the Atlantic Ocean. The devastation has been beyond belief. Just seeing pictures from the Grand Bahamas and Abaco Islands leaves me shaken. They may never recover.
Have you ever considered the way the Bible speaks of the storms of life? One commentary I’ve been reading says that in biblical literature ocean waters represented the chaotic forces of life. In an even darker way the sea represented evil. It wasn’t just a storm the disciples feared when Jesus sent them in a boat across the Sea of Galilee one night…it was the darkness of evil. No wonder the author of the Book of Revelation paints a picture of heaven and says, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” (Rev.21:1)
Rob Fuquay, a former pastor of Matthews United Methodist says, “Storms feel like the absence of God.” And yet the Bible tells how God used a storm to get Jonah’s attention … how Jesus calmed a storm and gave the disciples faith … and how God spoke to Job through a storm. Frankly, it is one of the many points of tension in the pages of the Bible. Storms feel like the absence of God while containing the presence of God.
What are we to make of it? Perhaps the Bible is teaching us that the damaging, threatening forces of life cannot obstruct God’s presence. Even in the reality of events that are not God’s desire, God’s presence and hope can be felt. Not even storms can keep God from working. As I said on Sunday, “Joy is not the absence of suffering, it is the presence God.” (Lew Smedes) How might God be at work through Hurricane Dorian?
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is already on the ground at work. UMCOR is one of the most highly recommended relief organizations noted by the United Nations. If you would like to make a special offering to assist in the Hurricane Relief efforts please make the check out to the church and indicate Disaster Relief/Recovery on the memo line. We will use that money to provide assistance through UMCOR, etc., for those who are suffering in the Bahamas and on our own coast. Thank you as always for your generosity. You can make an online gift here. (Choose Other for the fund and add “Disaster Relief.”)
Certainly, by your gifts this becomes an important way God turns a storm from being a fearsome event into an experience of God’s presence and hope. Every experience of evil is an opportunity for people of faith to demonstrate hope. I’m so grateful for a church full of hopers.
If you will, please consider putting an “X” on the calendar for these upcoming dates:
- Pilgrimage to Peace on Tuesday, September 24, 7 pm, in the Sanctuary: On this special night we welcome Dr. Mae Elise Cannon and her friends from Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP). Dr. Cannon is the Executive Director of CMEP, a consortium of churches seeking to be a part of conversations for peace among our Middle Eastern friends. That night, Dr. Cannon will be hosting a conversation with Rabbi Dr. Daniel Roth from Israel and Palestinian-American Aziz Abu Sarah, about multi-faith dialogue and engagement in constructive conflict, peace, and reality of life in Israel and Palestine. They hope to discuss the role all of us can play in hosting dialogues about disagreements and becoming peacemakers and reconcilers in the midst of conflict. Dr. Cannon says, “We believe we can bring hope to broken communities through the world – even to Israel and Palestine. Click here to learn more on the event.
- Inclusive Grace on Wednesday, September 25, 7 pm in Room 97/99: Inclusive Ministry is a new ministry of our church. It’s mission is to support LGBTQIA+ persons, their families and friends, both within and beyond the church community. All who would like to learn about Inclusive Grace’s mission, activities, community, and serving opportunities are invited to come on Wednesday, September 25. For more information visit Adult Ministries under REACH on the church website.
This Sunday (September 15) in Worship
They say no one learns like the teacher. Well, the same is true for the preacher. I’m being pushed so hard in my preparations for The Spirited Life (fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, self-control, and generosity) series. I hope you are finding grace and encouragement to ask God for the power and strength to be more loving (Sept. 1) and joyful (Sept. 8). This Sunday we come to peace. Here are some questions to ponder before Sunday: To what degree are your heart and mind at rest in God? How consistently are you troubled or anxious? Would people who know you describe you as being contented or discontented?
We’re two thirds through the year, and I’ve been thinking about the incredible ways God has been at work through you, and your dedication to being the church in 2019. We do what we do to lead ordinary people to become disciple-making, world-changing followers of Jesus. That’s what I hope I’m becoming — and as I do, it’s changing my life. I hope that’s what we’re becoming together — and I hope that as we do, people around us experience the powerful, unconditional love of God. I’ll see you on Sunday.
I know it’s not just MUMC people wrestling with these ideas of love, joy, peace, etc.! If you know anyone who might find our Spirited Life series helpful, invite them to come with you!
I’m Choosing Joy,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know that our four Disciple Classes are filled with 49 people this fall?
Did you know that Pamela Barnes serves each Thursday for United Kids Ministry administrative needs by helping to run copies, cut, laminate, or whatever is needed?
Did you know that Jennie Hopper led the 4th-6th Grades in opening worship with songs on her guitar on Kick-Off Sunday?
Did you know that the Lula Dial house dedication was held on August 31? Global Impact partnered with University City UMC and North Carolina Disaster Response on May 31 to restore her home that was damaged in Hurricanes Matthew & Florence. Work has been completed and she has now been able to return to her home after being displaced over a year ago.