Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family,
I hope you have had a wonderful week celebrating our nation’s birthday with your family and friends.
On Sunday morning, more than 40 youth and adults from St. Matthew’s along with a team of youth and adults from Woodlawn-Faith UMC will leave for a week of service in Harlan County, KY* with the Appalachia Service Project (ASP). For more than 30 years, St. Matthew’s has participated in ASP, helping make countless homes warmer, safer, and dryer. This years’ team will continue St. Matthew’s long tradition of serving people outside the walls of the church. I’m very proud of St. Matthew’s missional focus and I’m thankful for the youth and adults who freely give their time and energy in this important work. I’m also very proud that St. Matthew’s is once again partnering with Woodlawn-Faith UMC to share in the ASP experience. You will want to mark your calendar for Sunday, August 26, when St. Matthew’s Youth will help lead all three worship services and will tell you about their summer mission trips.
We will be publishing the list of St. Matthew’s ASP Team in Sunday’s Grow-Pray-Study guide for you to take home and keep in your prayers all week. Please keep the ASP team in your prayers this week as they travel and serve. Pray that they will draw closer to God and closer to one another. But most importantly, pray for the families they will be serving; ask God to use our team to bless their lives in a meaningful way.
Our sermon series about the power of questions-Unsettled: Asking the Tough Questions-concludes on Sunday. We’ve been talking about the questions Jesus was asked and the questions he asked others and learning about how we can use questions to guide our own lives as Jesus’ followers. The message this week is called, Just Ask!, and is based on Romans 8:31-35, 37-39 and Mark 4:35-41. I hope you’ll plan to join us for worship if you are in town.
Last Sunday I said that Jesus often asked questions that challenged his hearers to think more deeply about their lives. He used questions to increase their awareness of God and their awareness of the gap between “the person they are” and “the person God wants them to be.” I said that we can also use questions to learn and grow and, in my message, I shared a list of reflection questions that might help us take the next steps in our discipleship journeys. Many of you asked for the list, so I’m including it below. Please note that when I wrote the list, I was thinking about a daily review, but it can be used to review an entire week or any other period of time. The fact is that there are countless variations of reflection questions. Feel free to personalize the list for your current situation.
Where have I experienced the presence of God?
When was I most aware of God’s love and grace?
When was I least aware of God’s love and grace?
What signs of mercy or justice did I witness?
What has given me the most joy?
What blessings have I received? from God? from others?
For what am I most thankful?
What did I do to grow in my faith?
Did I pray?
Did I read and study the Bible?
Did I participate in a worship service?
Did I participate in a class or small group activity?
In what ways did I serve God’s purposes?
In what ways did I fail God by sins of commission (things I did that I shouldn’t have done) or sins of omission (things I didn’t do that I should have done)?
When was I most aware of the gap between my life as it is and God’s vision for my life?
What did I learn today? about God? about myself? about the world?
With whom did I share my faith?
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
*ASP has been serving Harlan County, KY for many years. The county’s population is about 29,000; per capita income is just under $16,000 per year; and more than 30% of the population live below the poverty line.