5th Sunday in Lent/March 25, 2020
Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that I do hope, if you haven’t already done so, that you will please take some time to watch our worship service from Sunday, March 22. The music was uplifting and Pastor Paul’s message was a straight arrow for our hurts and fears.
Here is the way Pastor Paul closed his message answering our 4th question from Jesus in our Lenten worship series. The question: How much bread do you have? Pastor Paul answered this way:
“Could be several loaves, or it could just be the heels. I mean, really look around at what all you have, and then do two things: Give thanks, and then think of how you might share some of your abundance.
I really don’t know how much bread or other resources you have, whether it’s a little or a lot. And yet, in the local and global crisis in which we are living, there are people who don’t have enough to make a sandwich, or the means to buy one.
What are we going to do about it? Should we panic and hold on to what we have? Or, will we open our hands so it can be taken, blessed, broken, and shared? Is there enough for everyone? Enough Loaves and Fish? Yes, always enough!”
You can watch the entirety of the worship service by clicking here.
What Might Be Birthed in This Season?
Spring is here. Our world is beginning to reflect to us the love and care of our God, even as we sit in a moment where the future is so murky. I hope you’ve been able to get outside during these days. I took a walk on Sunday, praying for a number of you as I walked past your house. And I pray for each of you now, that you will know God’s nearness and that the Holy Spirit will fill you with the fathomless, abundant love of God. My prayer is that we will all have fresh imagination for what God might do with us in this time. How might this space–awful as it is–offer us not just troubles but actually new possibilities? I’ve had several conversations with people this week that reveal how God is at work. I wonder what might be birthed in this season?
Rodney Stark, a sociologist, in his book The Rise of Christianity, wrote a compelling account of how the fledging Church, a community with few resources and minuscule numbers eventually shook the Roman Empire and ignited a revolution of grace, erupting from their new way of living, grounded in the resurrection of Jesus. Stark narrates how the Church (precisely because of the reality of Jesus’s sacrificial love and his victory over death) were compelled to resist the urge to run and escape (as many who were able did) but rather stay in the cities to serve neighbors as the plague ravished. This radical life, this radical presence became the Church’s defining character. Here’s what Stark says (and keep an eye out for that word marked in bold):
“Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent urban problems. To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fires and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services.”
Does that send a chill down your spine? Even as our lives have been wildly disrupted, we do not cease being the Church. Rather, we discover new ways to be true to our calling as God’s people. We (the Church) were made for moments like this. These moments of upheaval and profound need are part of our DNA. From our very beginning, we find new ways to share our life together, and we find new ways to love our neighbors.
Well, our first calling is to have a robust life together. Here are some resources for these uncertain days:
- Please plan to do this through an online public meeting space like Zoom.
- Our CCH community is meeting these days through Zoom and Facebook Live and YouTube. Each day Pastor Roldan is sending to families resources that can help them provide a family altar.
- Jan Harper and our Wellness Ministry. Please read here about getting some excellent counsel for questions concerning the coronavirus. Jan is uniquely gifted to help us in this area.
- Fred DeVore has been a part of MUMC since time began. Fred has served in every leadership position in church life. He is an attorney in his vocational life, but his calling is to be a Sunday school teacher. You must watch here the lesson he put together for the Family Covenant Class on the coronavirus.
- Do you know of someone in our Matthews UMC community who has a need? It may be food, childcare, medicines or assistance with bills. The Pastor’s Benevolence Fund may be able to help with these needs. You can contribute to this fund here by choosing “Other” and typing in Pastor’s Benevolence Fund.
- Our Sanctuary Choir is building community by sharing YouTube videos of inspiration and hope. Here was one that moved me deeply. You can watch here.
A Global Impact Report
Global Impact is actively communicating with our local ministry partners to see where and how we can help in these times of social distancing and COVID-19. Here are 2 ways that your Global Impact dollars are helping in our community:
- Your gifts provided lunch for 90 faculty/staff members at Greenway Park Elementary last week. They were meeting to prepare the food distribution center at the school and to prepare online learning for all students. This donation allowed everyone to enjoy lunch together at school, eliminating the time and expense of going out.
- Your gifts provided 1.5 weeks of meals and snacks for additional children being cared for at COSKids Child Development Center this week. These children of first responders and “essential” workers are new to COSKids, and their parents need to keep working to keep us all safe and healthy. COSKids is providing a critical service for our community and we want to continue to help them with their growing needs.
Your Global Impact team continues to reach out to the ministry partners’ leadership teams on a weekly basis. We pray for these ministries as they continue to respond to families in crisis.
Thank you for your generous gifts to Global Impact.
This Week in Worship (March 29)
I hope you’ll join us online this Sunday (March 29) as we continue our Lenten series, Questions We Hear Jesus Asking. The question for this week is “Are You Confused?” from John 16:17-25.
On Sundays let’s do a “virtual sliding over” on the pew to make room (or bandwidth) for our guests on the website. Try out YouTube.com/MatthewsUMC or Facebook.com/MatthewsUMC, where you don’t need an account to watch. Also, check in from our Sunday morning email. There is a pre-populated email to make it easy for you! (Check out Frequently Asked Questions, or Subscribe to our news list for the email.)
I trust we are all remembering God’s presence with us during this most extraordinary season. We have all been thrust into a new space, one that is more confined, simpler, smaller. God is there. God is always there. God has always been there. May I remind you everything is holy: having coffee: preparing meals: tending to children; stargazing; wrestling with doubt, confusion or fear; studying; doing our work or household chores. God is very near.
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know that even though the church building is closed, ministry is as vibrant as ever! Check out virtual ministry opportunities under the featured events section on our homepage. Staff would love to hear from you! Contact information is listed here.
Did you know our ministry staff is emailing daily video devotions to encourage & uplift us during this difficult time? You can view all fo them here.
Did you know that clergy, staff, and a large team of volunteers are taking extra care to check in with many of our members, especially the most vulnerable, to see if they need anything and let them know we care and are thinking about them.