Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that I’m always drawn to worship on the first Sunday of October, World Communion Sunday. In CCH (Centro Cristiano Hosanna) Pastor Roldan is beginning a new worship series called Stewards of the Kingdom, and this Sunday will be looking at the parable of the talents from Matthew 25:24-39. In 801South Pastor Stephen will launch a three-week series on leadership, beginning with the question, “Why do we need leaders?” In Sanctuary worship we continue our study of the Old Testament character David, a man after the very heart of God. This week we learn of the unusual story of Mephibosheth from II Samuel 9.
Charge Conference Action
A Charge Conference is the highest level of meeting in The United Methodist Church. It is reserved for electing leadership, setting salaries of clergy, purchase of real estate, etc.
This past Monday night, after nearly six months of careful deliberation, the Charge Conference (the Church Council and clergy) of Matthews United Methodist unanimously approved the development of a Permanent Endowment Fund. Thank you Terry Efird for your careful, thorough, comprehensive preparation for this important moment. May God guide each step we take in building this important tool of ministry for the future of God’s work in and through Matthews United Methodist. If you’d like to read more about this fund, please click here or visit Leadership Resources under the Serve tab at MatthewsUMC.org.
We continue our “Healthy Conversations” on The United Methodist Church and the LGBTQ+ question. I hope you can join us for these important conversations. A Way Forward: Healthy Conversations gatherings will continue each Wednesday night through October 11, 7 pm, in The Commons. Please know you are welcome to attend at any point.
This week, Rev. Amy Coles, Assistant to the Bishop, launches us into our theological method as United Methodists: Scripture, tradition, reason and experience. Click here to read my presentation from last week. In addition, here’s a note sent along to me: “Just wanted to tell you how much we appreciated the study … This was truly a blessing. It was an honest and respectful conversation about a very difficult subject. I’m so very proud of MUMC for having the courage to provide a safe space to begin the conversation to build bridges and not walls. This gives me great hope in the ability of people of differing views to come together to learn how we can share the love of Christ with each other and those who are different from ourselves.”
God’s Wide Circle
Stan Mooneyham is a former director of World Vision, a charitable agency that combats global poverty and hunger. At a national gathering of religious leaders from a wide spectrum of faith traditions – Catholic and Protestant, conservative and liberal – conversations quickly devolved into sharp disagreements. At the end of the first day of meetings, a weary Mooneyham was ready to relinquish to someone else the role of facilitating these discussions.
But the next day an inspired Mooneyham turned to a flip chart and drew a number of little dots each with a circle around them. He told the bickering leaders that this was how they perceived themselves and their relationships with others – as isolated individuals hedged by self-protection.
Then Mooneyham drew a large, all-encompassing circle around all the dots, and read a portion of Edwin Markhams’s poem, “Outwitted:”
He drew a circle that shut me out –
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout,
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.
Mooneyham concluded, “I may not be in your circle, but you are in mine, and there is nothing you can do to get out. You can’t resign, walk out, or run away. If you try it, I will just draw a bigger circle.”
Immediately, the bitterness and strain in the room evaporated, as each person recognized their own protective bubbles, and remembered that God’s wide circle included everyone in the whole world. Starting that day and for the rest of their time together, Mooneyham and the religious leaders had the most productive time building relationships that World Vision had ever experienced.
In such a polarized, bitterly divided world, we would do well to remember Mooneyham’s advice, and that is exactly what our World Communion Sunday is all about.
This Sunday, we will draw the circle wide and remember our connection to Christians all around the world. Think about it. On the very same day that we will be gathering in worship, Christians around the world will be doing the same, in their own context, praising God in their own way:
- Somewhere in Greece, an orthodox priest will walk down the aisle of the sanctuary swinging a censer, carrying burning, aromatic incense. Its billowing waft will remind people that their prayers are being lifted up to heaven.
- Somewhere in Siberia, a group of Sakha Christians will sing an olonkho, a heroic epic poem set to music that recounts the wondrous stories of the first three chapters of Genesis.
- Somewhere in the Burgundy region of France, the Taize community will gather to sing the songs that have garnered them international intention: simple melodic chants based on Scripture, and sung in canon.
- Somewhere in Moscow, worshipers in a Russian Orthodox Church will sit in a sanctuary filled with beautiful icons, pictures that portray saints and sacred stories, drawing people into a focused celebration of our spiritual ancestry.
- Somewhere in India, Christians will sing a bhajan, a beautiful devotional song repeated like a haunting, lyrical mantra.
- And somewhere in Togo in western Africa, Christians will celebrate the New Testament in a formation similar to country line dancing. With their hips and torsos shaking in perfect synchronism, they will worship God with passion and energy.
Isn’t it great to know that just as our common creeds can unite us, our rich differences can speak of a God of diversity and harmony. We need not be divided by our differences, but we can be united by our common humanity and our mutual love of God and each other. Some say it is impossible to live with deep differences. But I don’t think the Bible teaches that. In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul writes, “… making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” I Peter 3:8 states, “All of you, have unity of spirit.”
So we’ll be looking for you on Sunday (October 1) in the community of faith that is passionate about drawing the circle wide.
We are family,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II
Did you know 268 people attended The Deep Family Worship in August where we welcomed 12 newcomers from the crowd? Help celebrate the 8th anniversary of The Deep on Sunday, October 8 at 9:30 in the Gym!
Did you know that the Matthews Police Department has been renamed to the Rob Hunter Law Enforcement Center in honor of Chief Hunter’s 30 years of service? The family is hosting a retirement celebration for all of the community this Sunday, October 1 from 2-4 pm in The Commons. Congratulations, Chief! .
Did you know that Matthews United Methodist was a featured non-profit at the Matthews Chamber luncheon in September? Marianne Bowman represented our church and spoke with many people about our ministries for all generations.
Did you know the Clubhouse at Plantation Estates had their ribbon cutting last week? Pastor Chuck, Pastor Paul, Mary Asbury, Karen Schultz and Jeannette Winslow attended the ceremonies. Several of these new neighbors are visiting, attending or have already joined as new members!
Did you know that Wesley UMC hosted a bluegrass concert for the surrounding neighborhood? Over 200 people attended and the playground was full of children!