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Glorious Christmas Spirit

Just these lines, my friends…

… to say that I really wasn’t sure if anyone would show up this past Sunday after all the weather announcers on Saturday evening were warning of black ice. But there you were — faithful, serving, giving, worshipping … and no black ice. Thanks be to God!

Sunday was filled with so much: beautiful, poignant, haunting Advent carols, the Sanctuary and Youth Choirs singing I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (one of my favorite Advent hymns), the Praise Team leading us in powerful arrangements of Joy to the World and Away in a Manger, the lighting of our Advent Candles and singing a verse of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, the reading of Holy Scripture from our Lay Readers, the hand bells of The Joyful Ringers, the Children’s Chimes and our Jubilee and Gloria Choirs. You can watch the worship message here. The day ended for me with our United Youth and their end of year dinner celebration. Picture 45-50 parents serving 250 youth and their leaders a beautiful dinner. Our gymnasium was teeming with music, games, laughter, energy, excitement, gratitude and a glorious Christmas spirit. All of the above is why I really don’t want you to miss too many Sundays around this transforming fellowship. God is at work in amazing ways!

Your Generosity
As we wind down 2017, I want to say THANK YOU for your generosity this past year. Your worshipful giving has paved the way for God to do some great work in and through Matthews United Methodist, to love and serve people in our church, in our community and around the globe.
If you haven’t had a chance to return your Joash Chest commitment card for 2018, we would be most grateful to receive it. We’ve had 442 households to do so, but we haven’t yet heard from a host of households that made commitments last year. Remember, what you write on that commitment card is just between you and God.

Click here to print a Commitment Card, complete and place it in a self-addressed envelope or pick one up at the Welcome Center, then place it in the offering plate on Sunday.

At Matthews United Methodist Church, we don’t just talk about making God’s love real. We do it! The generosity of our congregation is amazing. Your prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness all matter and add to the substance, mission and integrity of the church. I thank you for financially investing and giving to the ministry and mission of our church. The Apostle Paul gave us this encouragement from 1 Cor. 9:6-8 saying, Don’t give reluctantly or out of pressure, but rather cheerfully and generously as God has provided for our needs.”

The ministry of worshipful giving is not the burden of a few, but a privilege of every single person in our transforming community of hope and grace. As we’re approaching the last days of 2017, consider these questions with me: Have you given what you budgeted?  Have you given sacrificially and faithfully? Has your giving reflected your partnership with Matthews United Methodist? Remember that there are several ways you can give:

  • Place your gift in the offering plate the next three Sundays (December 17, 24 and 31).
  • On Christmas Eve, if you would like to give to the general budget, please write “budget” in the memo line of your check.
  • Direct giving (through your bank).
  • Online giving available by clicking on Give at MatthewsUMC.org (must be in transit by Friday, December 29).
  • Mail directly to the Church Office at 801 South Trade Street, Matthews, NC 28105.
  • You can come by the Church Office and leave your check. The office will be closed on December 25 and 26, but will be open from 9 am to 5 pm on December 27-28 and 9 am to 1 pm on December 29. Contributions can be left after-hours in the secure drop box in the door across from the Welcome Center. To be counted toward your 2017 giving, please leave your contribution by 4:00 pm on Sunday, December 31.
  • If you are traveling during the holidays, you can opt to send your giving directly to the Church Office. As long as your giving is postmarked by December 30 (since December 31 is a Sunday and USPS is closed), it will count toward your 2017 giving.
  • If you have any questions about your year-end giving, you can call or email Leigh Ann Fesmire at 704-815-1993 or leighann@matthewsumc.org. Remember, all donations are tax deductible.

All of our opportunities for ministry are made possible because of your ongoing support of the General Ministry Fund. It’s the financial foundation upon which everything else depends. We are within reach of fulfilling our 2017 financial goals, and are on our way toward underwriting the needs of this ministry in 2018. Thus far we have had 265 youth, 187 children and 442 adult financial commitments that have been placed in the Joash Chest for 2018. We praise God for the multitude of ways in which the people of this church are touching the needs of the world around us through the many opportunities we have had to give and serve. Thank you for making this ministry possible through your faithful generosity!

How Has God Encouraged You?
At Matthews United Methodist, this is an important question we want to ask over and over because we love to hear stories of how God has worked, moved, and transformed your life! If you would like to share how God has encouraged you, whether it be recently or years ago, we would love to hear your story. You can email your story to me at Chuck@MatthewsUMC.org.

I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Your Faces
The Bible says in John 1, “… and we beheld his glory.”

Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “Encountering another human being is as close to God as I may ever get – in the eye-to-eye thing, the person-to-person thing – which is where God’s Beloved has promised to show up.” In the faces of the shepherds and Mary and Joseph, we see something of God, and in the Baby Jesus we come face to face with the “word made flesh … and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten son of the Father.” I see it in the faces of our children as they sing their hearts out. I see it in the faces of grandparents who are more excited about Christmas morning than they were when they were children. I see it in the twinkling eyes of aging saints who have seen scores of Christmases come and go and still warm to the message. I see it on Christmas Eve when every face glows in the candlelight. We behold his glory in the faces around us.

I invite you to the celebration of Christmas where you just might see Jesus in the faces of those around you. I am sure you will see it if you come to Matthews United Methodist on the final Sunday of Advent (December 24), and of course you’ll see it in the Christmas Eve services at 4 pm (The ABC’s of Christmas for Children and Families), 6 pm (Contemporary), 9 pm and 11 pm (Traditional). When we all come together – even when we have been apart for ages – Jesus promises to be present and we will see his face once again. (Complete schedule here.)

These days I can’t take my eyes off your faces.   

As we head into the final and fleeting days of Advent, I thought I would share this Christmas blessing from Howard Thurman:

I will light candles this Christmas
Candles of joy, despite all the sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch.
Candles of courage where fear is ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens.
Candles of love to inspire all my living.
Candles that will burn all the yearlong.

This Week in Worship at Matthews
This Sunday (December 17) will be one of those magical moments at Matthews United Methodist, and the perfect time to invite someone to share it with you. We will conclude all of our morning Sanctuary services with our Children’s Nativity. For over 30 years now our children have been leading us to the Manger at the conclusion of each service on the final Sunday of Advent. You have to experience it to believe it. I’ll be preaching my third sermon in the series, The One and True Light. Pastor Stephen and 801South will continue with Hidden Christmas. Centro Cristiano Hosanna (CCH) will continue with the series Celebrating with Understanding.

Thank you for the privilege that is mine to be one of your pastors.

O Come Let Us Adore Him,

Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Chuck@MatthewsUMC.org

Did you know that the Andujar family and The Becoming One Sunday School Class joined together to put up the Chrismon Tree, Wreaths and Garland in the Sanctuary? These individuals display faithful service year in and year out, thanks be to God for their generosity of time during this busy season.

Did you know that 20 boxes of paper have been ordered for Greenway Park Elementary School Teachers and twelve $25 gift cards have been provided for families in need this Christmas?

Did you know that Noah Brown has served as an Acolyte for many years, and that his sister, Hannah, serves alongside him at the 8:15 service? All are welcome (no experience needed) to attend Acolyte practice on the second Saturday of each month at 11 am in the Sanctuary or contact Meg@matthewsumc.org.

Did you know that 400 people took short-term studies at Matthews UMC in 2017? Learn about opportunities on the Teach tab at MatthewsUMC.org.

Did you know that a group from Matthews UMC, with the help of our Feed the People ministry, blessed 52 families from Greenway Park Elementary with a turkey and a meal box? Feed the People also supplied an additional 50 turkeys to Charlotte Rescue Mission.