Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

Published October 16, 2019

19th Sunday after Pentecost in Ordinary Time/October 16, 2019

Just these lines, my friends …

… to say thank you to Pastor Paul for such a good word about the 7th fruit of the Holy Spirit, self-control. If you missed his powerful message in our Spirited Life series, I hope you’ll watch here.

I was visiting with someone the other day about the listing of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and this individual mentioned to me that they were surprised to find self-control on the list. The person said, she could understand love, joy, peace, patience, etc. — but self-control?! Then she said, “God is getting awfully personal when he goes for this one.”

Self-control gets deeply personal for all of us. Self-control strikes terror in the heart of a chocolate lover.  It causes the lip to quiver for the confirmed couch potato. It makes me tremble with fear over the mere sight of a pair of running shoes. It makes all of us think of areas in our lives where we have very little discipline.

But as Pastor Paul affirmed, self-control is a whole lot more than just self-discipline. He said, self-control “… isn’t always about a lack of Will Power; it’s often a lack of Reward Power. That’s why the Apostle Paul said, ‘I do not run aimlessly’ (I Corinthians 9:26) … Paul ran with his eyes on a prize he really wanted – a prize he believed would yield him the most joy.

That is the key to self-control: our belief that the pleasures of a reward will be worth the sacrifice and self-denial. And that’s what nourishes the spiritual fruit of self-control in our lives (Galatians 5:23): Wanting the rewards the Spirit offers us more than the rewards the world offers us.”

Thank you so much, Pastor Paul.

Wonder Woman, a Table and Judy Suarez

I hope you’ll take a good look at the picture below. Judy Suarez is our very own Matthews United Methodist Wonder Woman … and this Sunday, October 20, 10:30-11:00 am & 12:00-12:30 pm in the Sanctuary Reception Area, we will have an opportunity say “thank you” for her faithful service in our staff community. Judy has been serving for nearly 20 years on our staff as Daily Bread Ministry Coordinator, but you need to know she has been leading the efforts outlined below since 1987.

What has Judy Suarez been doing over several decades of ministry? Judy has…

  • Served 61,520+ meals (Prime Time, Mystery Theatre, Ash Wednesday, Happy Times, Shut-In Meals, Global Impact, Seder, Choir brunches, Music & Arts camp lunches)!
  • Distributed 7,700+ backpacks!
  • Mobilized 15,426+ volunteers!
  • Served 1,600+ families when there was a death! This would include calls, cards, reading materials, funeral receptions and meals.
  • Served 24,000+ shut-ins by providing a meal!
  • Provided 300,000+ cups of coffee!
  • And so much more.

I’m sure when you examine the numbers I’ve just written, you find it all simply mind-boggling. Our Wonder Woman has learned the secret of love, because when Judy thinks about love she thinks about a table. You see, for the most part, all that I’ve mentioned above happens around a table.

Do you remember that Jesus was constantly getting in trouble for who he invited to sit at his table? In his culture, to sit at the table with somebody was to extend to that person acceptance and love and protection and friendship. One scholar says, “The shared table is the shared life.” Jesus did this with the strangest people, and he got hammered for it.

The Pharisees asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Another time they said, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Jesus got in a lot of trouble because of a table, and he never apologized for this.

On one occasion Jesus told a story that’s really a story about a table. It is the story of the father with two sons. (Luke 15:11-32) This particular table had three chairs — one for a dad and one for each of his two boys. Now these boys were really different. One day, the younger boy said, “I don’t want to sit at your table anymore. I want whatever would be coming to me after you die, old man, and I want it now.” So the young son gets up from his chair, and he leaves his father’s table. Every day the old man sits at the table, and every day he looks at that empty chair and thinks about his boy.

As I write, I know that some of you know the pain of an empty chair around your table. Maybe it’s because of an estrangement, or a separation, or a loss. Even the father in Jesus’ story, can only wait and suffer and love.

Well, one day, his boy comes home, and the father is so excited he puts his best clothes and his best ring on the boy, and he serves his best food at the table. But the older boy gets up and he leaves the table. He’s all judgmental and bitter and self-righteous because he knows who deserves to sit at the table and who doesn’t deserve to sit at the table. And if that other brother is going to be there, he’s not going to be there.

When the story ends, the father is outside talking to the older brother saying, “Why don’t you come on inside?” You see, the father suffers so deeply over every empty chair at the table.

I hear Judy Suarez saying to us, “Let’s get the table right.” Let’s not hurry through life with busy, pretentious haste, with so many things to do, so many jobs to accomplish, so many prizes to win, so much money to accumulate, that we don’t sit around the table and talk and laugh and love.

I hope when you see people that your first instinct isn’t about them acting wrong, or dressing wrong, or looking wrong. But that you’ll remember the father, his table, Judy Suarez and their pain over every empty chair.

When I think about love, I think about Judy Suarez and a table.

I know you will want to join Karen and me in contributing to a love offering for Judy. Her vision of the table and service around that table has been at the heart of MUMC for decades. You can do so by giving directly to her or by making a gift to Matthews UMC no later than October 31 (note “Judy Suarez” on the memo line).

Upcoming Dates

If you will, please consider putting an “X” on the calendar for these upcoming dates:

  • The 30-Day Gratitude Challenge to begin on October 30: Do you think you could write a note of gratitude every day from October 30 through Thanksgiving Day, November 28? That is the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge. You’ll hear more about it in the days to come.
  • High Impact Servant (H.I.S.) Meeting on Monday, October 28, 7:00 pm in The Commons: The HIS Meeting is a quarterly gathering of staff, lay leaders serving in a ministry area, and all other interested church members for the purpose of worship, fellowship, and sharing information about what’s going on in and through the ministries of MUMC.
  • Annual Charge Conference, Tuesday, November 5, 7:00 pm in the Chapel: The Annual Charge Conference is a business gathering where we officially approve all Charge Conference requirements of the Western NC Conference for the 2020 calendar year. Anyone is welcome to attend.
  • Joash Chest Sunday, November 17: This is our annual Sunday when our families make their financial commitments for 2020. These are some of the holiest moments that we share each year. I love watching you stream forward to make your commitments.

This Sunday (October 20) in Worship

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you on Sunday in worship as we continue our worship series titled The Spirited Life. This Sunday we will explore the 8th fruit of the Holy Spirit – faithfulness.

You can’t imagine the joy that fills my heart for the privilege that is mine to be one of your pastors. By the way …

I’m Choosing Self-Control,

Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II

Did you know that Hunter Adcock was crowned Homecoming King at Piedmont High School? Watch the segment from WBTV here: Union Co. high school student crowned Homecoming King in surprise celebration.

Did you know Dennis and Kelly Green will participate in a medical mission trip to Harmons, Jamaica with Chapin UMC? They will continue their nearly 15-year tradition of service to this impoverished mountain community. Please hold them close in prayers this week.

Did you know that the Golf Outing, led by our United Methodist Men, raised $14,700 for local organizations? Thank you to the 102 golfers who participated and to everyone who made this 21% year-to-year increase possible! UM Men serve on 27 separate occasions throughout the year at the Charlotte Rescue Mission, the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte and Hoskins Park Ministries. Please visit the Men’s page on our site to learn more.