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What a Wonderful World

Just these lines, my friends …

to say that this past Sunday (December 17) was magic, pure Christmas magic. My favorite Advent hymn may be I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light. I love hearing Tyris Washington sing, and he surprised us with a beautiful arrangement of What a Wonderful World during the 9:30 hour. Then came our children adorned in costumes and their re-enactment of the first Christmas. Who of us will forget sheep stretched out over the chancel area as if they were taking a nap? Who of us will forget Brody Lindberg (mom and dad are Jessie/Tregg) reminding all us at the 11 am hour that everyone has a place at the manger. Who of us will forget the moment mom/dad placed baby Jesus in the manger complete with cries and coos and the soothing touch of Mary. Thank you Meranda Turner, Kristen Freeman, Madeline Kamp and a whole corps of volunteers for your leadership in this annual take-our-breath-away experience. If you missed my third sermon in our Advent series The One True Light, you can watch here. Friends, this is the reason I don’t want you to miss a single Sunday around our transforming community. Grace comes to us every Sunday, in all kinds of ways, from all kinds of people.

New Year Things
The New Year will bring some exciting, enriching and challenging experiences for us at Matthews United Methodist. I hope you will participate in these deepening opportunities for you and yours. Please be sure to check the dates below and put an “X” on the calendar:

  • January 14-15: The Martin Luther King Weekend will feature a peaceful march from the Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church to the steps of our Matthews Town Hall. We will gather on Sunday afternoon, January 14, 2 pm at the Mt. Moriah Church. Then on Monday, January 15, at the Mt. Moriah Church, we will share in a fellowship breakfast (8:30 am to 9:45 am) along with a commemorative worship service (10 am). I have the great privilege of preaching that morning.
  • January 28: Global Impact with Jena Lee Nardella. I hope you will have read her book One Thousands Wells by the time she arrives. It is a great read about a remarkable young woman.
  • February 12: We continue our “Healthy Conversations” about The United Methodist Church and “A Way Forward.” This night of conversation will include a bit of a debate format on “LGBTQ+ Matters and The United Methodist Church” between two outstanding United Methodist pastors, Jeff Patterson and Rev. Paul Butler.
  • February 14: Ash Wednesday/First Day of Lent with Daniel Corpening, Director of Field Education at Duke Divinity School and a child of Matthews United Methodist. We will gather in the Sanctuary at 7 pm for this moving service of worship that will include the Imposition of Ashes.
  • February 20: Right here at Matthews United Methodist, 7 pm in The Commons will be our 4th Community Forum on Racial Bridge Building featuring a number of our newly elected community leaders.

God Did Not Skip Us
Do you remember John Grisham’s book Skipping Christmas from a few years back? Instead of his typical legal thriller, Grisham penned a book portraying a married couple who decides to forgo the holiday altogether in favor of taking a Caribbean cruise. The humorous and predictable moral of the story is that by trying to give up Christmas, they recover the true meaning of the holiday. This family who tries to skip Christmas altogether ends up experiencing the sacrifice of faithful friends, rescuing them in their time of need.

Sacrifice and faithfulness also marked the path of the first Christmas long ago in Bethlehem. Joseph offered his reputation and protection. Mary offered her willingness. The Wise Men offered their gifts. God offered his Son. Apparently, Christmas is not merely something to enjoy but also to share.

This week, as we once again encounter the miraculous story of God abiding with us in Jesus, I encourage us to pray about how we might participate with God in offering what we have to those around us. We are reminded to bring our own gifts to the King of all Kings at the celebration of His birth. Find out more about how to give your year-end offering by clicking here.

In a frantic and fearful time, Matthews United Methodist continues the song of “glad tidings of comfort and joy.” Because of your generosity, under-resourced children are tutored after school, marriages are healed through counseling, students cross the line from unbelief to faith, relationships are built across racial lines, and victims are pulled out of modern-day slavery. These are but a few examples of God’s redeeming work through this transforming church. As your pastor, I am honored to have a front-row seat to the Spirit’s extraordinary movement in our community.

A family trying to avoid the chaos of the holiday season makes for a funny tale, but I am grateful God did not skip us at the original Christmas. We are all the recipients of those who have shared God’s good news of great joy with us.

Christmas Eve
This Sunday, December 24, Christmas Eve, we have eight services of worship planned for you and yours. Our morning worship experiences will include the lighting of the 4th Advent Candle. Our evening services will include the lighting of the Christ Candle. Click here to look at the schedule for the day.

Christmas Eve will, no doubt, be quite a day and night at Matthews United Methodist. 801South will feature Pastor Stephen’s last sermon. Our hearts are heavy on the departure of the Knopp family, but we are excited for their awaiting adventure. Centro Cristiano Hosanna (CCH) will be will be having a special Christmas service featuring special presentations from children and youth. Pastor Roldan will continue the series “Celebrating with Understanding.” In the morning Sanctuary services, we will continue our series, “The One True Light” with Pastor Paul preaching on “Radiant, Glistening Light.” I will conclude the Sanctuary series that evening at 6 pm, 9 pm and 11 pm. My message is titled “Blinding, Worshipful Light.”

From Chuck, Karen, Chase, Ryan, Gina, Molly, Ben, Mackenzie, Boulder, Lolo and Cooper (the Wilson tribe and dogs), we say to you, “May the joy of God’s holy love be with each of you and with all people everywhere. Merry Christmas!”

With great Christmas joy, I am your
Pastor and friend,

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

Did you know the Forever Young and Sit N Fit Recreation Classes collected and delivered over 100 Christmas gifts for 23 residents at the Turning Point Women’s Shelter? Turning Point is a Global Impact partner that supports women who have experienced domestic violence.

Did you know the Kingombe family is celebrating the American Dream of homeownership through our Greater Matthews Habitat for Humanity partnership which includes five area churches? 400 hours of sweat equity went into the construction and participation in education programs while building the home. Sign up to volunteer on the next home build at GlobalImpactMUMC.org.

Did you know after years of being a citizen of the United States, Pastor Roldan’s wife Lisbey Arjona Espinosa passed her naturalization test on December 13? Congratulations Lisbey!

Did you know in partnership with World Vision and hundreds of other youth groups around the world, our United Youth Ministry had 50 youth and adults participate in the 30 Hour Famine the first weekend in December? These individuals fasted for 30 Hours to raise funds and awareness to help end world hunger for children and their families worldwide. The youth raised $1,729.00 for World Vision, which will feed 43 children for a month!