Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family:
It’s good to be back at the church this week after spending last week in Fentress County, TN with our Appalachia Service Project Team. For me, it was a great week of Christian fellowship and hard work. I was proud of the way our youth and adults pulled together to make the homes we worked on warmer, safer, and drier. I was also proud that we could partner with Woodlawn-Faith UMC in Alexandria to help them take the first steps on their own ASP journey. Many thanks to Mike Fee and Shane Hartzler for their leadership and to the entire ASP Team for giving valuable time and energy to serve Christ through ASP.
The need for mission projects like ASP was driven home to me last week when Abraham McIntyre, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for ASP visited our center. He told us that the ASP summer program was working on 500 houses across Appalachia this summer (which I think is an amazing number), but he went on to tell us that ASP received 6,500 applications from homeowners for 2017. When I remember that these numbers only represent people who learned about ASP and were able to apply, I am painfully aware of how many people in our world are hurting. I am also aware that God is calling The Church to do something about it—and I’m thankful that St. Matthew’s Church is answering God’s call.
Another way that we have answered God’s call is by hosting close to 200 children from the church and community for Vacation Bible School (VBS) and Kids & Mission Projects (KAMP) this week. It’s been a great week of learning and fun. The VBS theme this year has been Maker Fun Factory, and we’ve learned a lot about God’s love through Bible stories, songs, videos, and service projects. Many thanks to Carrie Schwab, Sarah Harrison, Christine Moser, and Christine Marucchi for their leadership and the many youth and adults who have served Christ through VBS and KAMP.
Our summer of mission and service continues next week. On Sunday morning, our Jeremiah Project (JP) team will leave for a week of service in the Winchester, VA area. Twenty members of the church family will be participating. Please keep them in your prayers 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; pray that God will use the JP Team to bless their lives in a meaningful way.
Don’t forget that Sunday, August 27, will be Youth Mission Sunday. During all three services on that day, our youth will share experiences from the Handbell Tour, ASP, and JP. You don’t want to miss it.
Finally, our summer sermon series on the parables of Jesus – Tell Me a Story – continues on Sunday. This Sunday’s message is entitled: “Which One of You, Having a Hundred Sheep.” The Scripture readings will be Luke 15:1-7 and Luke 19:1-10. As we consider the parable of the lost sheep, we’ll discover just how much God loves us and reflect on what Jesus’ life and teaching (in parables) tells us about God’s priorities.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family:
I hope you are all staying cool during this very hot summer week!
As many of you know, Pastor Neil and 64 of our youth and adult volunteers are spending the week in Fentress County, TN with the Appalachia Service Project. So far this week, our ASP teams have dug drainage ditches, laid insulation, patched roofs, built ramps, solved plumbing projects, among many other projects to help build warmer, safer, and drier homes for our neighbors in Fentress County. We are so proud of our youth and adults that take seriously what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in our world. Neil and the ASP teams also wanted to pass along how grateful everyone is for the congregation’s prayers and support. Please continue to pray for our ASP team as they return home this Saturday.
We continue this week in our sermon series called Tell Us A Story, about Jesus’ parables. Parables were Jesus’ preferred teaching style and Jesus often used familiar images to explain and clarify unfamiliar concepts. This week’s sermon is called “Someone Gave a Great Dinner” based on Isaiah 25:1-10, Luke 14:15-24. If you pay attention in the scriptures, some of the most important and unexpected events happen around an important meal and this week we will look at how through a great meal, God’s table extends to all.
When you come to church on Sunday, the sanctuary will look just a bit different! We are preparing for our Vacation Bible School and KAMP (Kids and Mission Projects) week, and our sanctuary is set up to welcome the nearly 200 children from around our community to our church starting Monday, July 17th! This year’s theme is Maker Fun Factory and we will teach our children that we are ‘Created by God’ and ‘Made with a Purpose’. Many thanks to Carrie Schwab and all the coordinators and volunteers who have stepped up this year to lead, it is only through your gift of presence that we are able to live out what it means to be people of Jesus Christ. Finally, if you haven’t registered your children yet, it’s not too late! Plan to show up at 8:30 AM on Monday, July 17th and sign up at the registration table.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!
Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family:
Bright and early on Sunday morning St. Matthew’s Appalachia Service Project (ASP) team will leave for a week of service in Fentress County, TN. I have the honor of participating in ASP again this year and I’m looking forward to making a difference in the lives of the families we will be serving. According to the ASP website, close to 400,000 volunteers have made much-needed home repairs for more than 17,000 families in Appalachia over the past 48 years. St. Matthew’s has a long tradition of participation in ASP. It has been an important part of our youth ministry program for many years. I can only imagine how many lives have been blessed by St. Matthew’s commitment to youth ministry and youth mission trips.
I’m very proud of the fact that St. Matthew’s is partnering with Woodlawn-Faith UMC for this year’s ASP trip. This will be Woodlawn-Faith’s first ASP experience and we are helping them get started on their own ASP journey. Between the two churches 64 youth and adults will be heading out on Sunday morning. Please keep the entire ASP team in your prayers this week as we travel and serve. Pray that we draw closer to God and closer to one another. But most importantly, pray for the families we will be serving; pray that God will use us to bless their lives in a meaningful way.
I hope you will also keep Michelle Peters and Nancy Cappel in your prayers. They are currently in Swaziland, serving at-risk children through the Michelo Project.
Our summer sermon series on the parables of Jesus – Tell Me a Story – continues on Sunday. This Sunday’s message is entitled: “A Man Had a Fig Tree Planted in His Vineyard.” It is based on Ezekiel 17:1-10 and Luke 13:6-9. We know that Jesus used a lot of agricultural images in his parables (seeds and soil, weeds and wheat, mustard seeds, fig trees, etc.). When Jesus preached and taught in the Galilean region of Israel, he would have been surrounded by lush green fields and the people he was teaching would have understood what it meant to sow seeds and harvest crops. They would have known that you would not plant a fig tree unless you expected the tree to bear fruit. Even if we don’t live in an agricultural area, I think most of us understand Jesus’ point. We wouldn’t plant and cultivate a garden unless we wanted blooms on our flowers or tomatoes on our vines. My hope is that, as we listen to Jesus’ parables, we will allow God’s grace to nourish our lives so that we will bear the fruit of God’s Kingdom as individuals and as God’s Church.
This coming Sunday, we’re going to start a new sermon series that explores some of the most familiar stories in the Bible: the parables of Jesus. The series is called Tell Me a Story. Through his parables, Jesus taught about God, the Kingdom of God, God’s grace, and faithful living. I am convinced that Jesus’ parables are as relevant today as they were the day Jesus first spoke them, but I know that we sometimes struggle to understand them. Each week, we’ll consider one of the parables and listen for the message that Jesus would have us hear. The series starts with the parable of the weeds in the wheat, which is found in Matthew 13:24-30 and Matthew 13:34-43. These are very important (and sometimes challenging) messages and I hope you’ll join us for worship every Sunday if you’re in town. If you are traveling, don’t forget that you can listen to an audio live-stream of our worship services on Sunday morning, or catch-up on previous sermons later in the week.
To complement the sermon series, help you take a deeper dive into Jesus’ teaching, and look at some of the parables that are not covered in the sermons, my wife Anne will be leading a discipleship study called Pondering the Parables. Starting this Sunday, she will offer the class two times each week: Sunday mornings at 9:45am and Wednesdays at 7:00pm following Wednesdays on the Lawn. (The first Wednesday class will be July 5.) No previous Bible study experience is necessary and there is no preparation required for the weekly classes. You can come to as many classes as you are able. If you need childcare for the Wednesday evening class, please contact the church office.
Several important summer ministries are in their final stages of preparation. The Michelo Project team leaves for Swaziland on July 5; the Appalachia Service Project team will leave for Fentress County, TN on July 9; Vacation Bible School (VBS) and Kids and Mission Projects (KAMP) starts on July 17; and the Jeremiah Project team leaves for Winchester, VA on July 23. Please keep all of these groups in your prayers as they prepare to bless people in the communities they are serving.
Finally, I’m pleased to tell you that, at the Church Council meeting on Wednesday evening, our Finance Committee reported that St. Matthew’s finances are strong and healthy. As a result, the Council approved a slight increase in our 2017 operating budget, so that we can expand the impact of St. Matthew’s ministries, improve and maintain the church facility, and support the mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church (UMC) in Virginia and around the world.
The positive tone of the meeting and the Church Council’s willingness to take these faithful next steps is a sign to me that God is at work in our lives in a powerful way. I am thankful for the ways that God is blessing our lives and I am thankful for the ways that you are responding. God is using your generosity to: accomplish the mission of The UMC, which is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world; and to accomplish the mission of St. Matthew’s UMC, which is to be a welcoming community, nurturing and serving God’s children so that all may find meaning and purpose through Jesus Christ.
We find meaning and purpose for our lives as followers of Jesus and help others do the same through worship; discipleship programs for children, youth, and adults; and opportunities for Christian fellowship. God uses our time, talent, and treasure to change the world through ongoing ministries of outreach and service – like the walk-in ministry, service days, and partnership with Weyanoke Elementary School – as well as the mission projects and programs I mentioned above. Your willingness to respond to God’s grace through your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness is changing the world. Thank you!
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, but if I don’t, I hope you have a safe, healthy, and happy Independence Day celebration.
Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family,
Last weekend Anne and I, along with the rest of the St. Matthew’s delegation, attended the 2017 session of the Virginia Annual Conference in Hampton. Grace Han’s ordination as an Elder in Full Connection in The United Methodist Church (UMC) on Saturday evening was the highlight of the event. It was an honor for me to stand with her during the service and I look forward to continuing to share in ministry at St. Matthew’s with Grace and with Bill Moberly in the coming year. Their ministry, in addition to their friendship and support, is a blessing to me and to the church family.
Many thanks to Scott Bach-Hansen for sharing a powerful message at St. Matthew’s while the pastors were in Hampton. I hope it was a Happy Father’s Day for all of the Dads.
Every year, as I sit in Annual Conference sessions with close to 3,000 other United Methodists from around Virginia, I am reminded that the connectional structure of the UMC is one of its strengths. I firmly believe that our theology is faithful and Biblical, and that our mission has never been more relevant or more important. But I also believe that the unique connections within the UMC make every congregation more effective than it would be on its own. The ministry we accomplish is multiplied around the world by our work together. Through the United Methodist connection, churches across the globe are working together to make disciples of Jesus Christ and transform the world. Think of it this way: in 2015, we reported that St. Matthew’s ministries served more than 37,000 people in our community and around the world. That is a lot people and is worth celebrating, but as a United Methodist congregation we don’t stand alone. In 2015, all of the churches in the Virginia Conference served more than 1.5 million people. By God’s grace, United Methodists in Virginia blessed a whole lot of people in Jesus’ name. We are stronger together than we are on our own.
On Sunday morning, Grace Han will be sharing a special message entitled, The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Us, based on Psalm 121:1-8 and Luke 4:14-21. The following Sunday, July 2, we will start our summer sermon series about the parables of Jesus: Tell Me a Story. As we read the Gospels, we discover that Jesus used stories called parables to teach about God, the Kingdom of God, God’s grace, and faithful life. Each Sunday, during the summer, we’ll look at one of the parables and consider its meaning for our lives today. I believe Jesus’ parables are just as applicable today as they were when Jesus first told them. Please plan to join us in worship every Sunday when you’re in town.
To complement the sermon series, my wife Anne will be leading a discipleship study called Pondering the Parables. Starting July 2, she will offer the class two times each week: Sunday mornings at 9:45am and Wednesdays at 7:00pm following Wednesdays on the Lawn. (The first Wednesday class will be July 5.) No previous Bible study experience is necessary and there is no preparation required for the weekly classes. Come to as many classes as you are able. If you need childcare for the Wednesday evening class, please contact the church office.
Our summer tradition of gathering on Wednesday evenings for an informal time of food and fellowship resumes on June 28 at 6:00pm. Even though we call it Wednesdays on the Lawn, we meet in the Fellowship Hall for dinner. The main dish and drinks will be provided by one our leadership groups and everyone else is asked to bring a side-dish or dessert to share. There will be games and activities for kids (outside on the lawn if the weather permits). These are relaxed opportunities to enjoy good food and fellowship with church friends and I hope you’ll plan to join us on Wednesday evenings if you’re in town.
On Sunday morning our youth Handbell Choirs will leave St. Matthew’s for their annual tour. They will be participating in a Handbell Festival in Amherst, MS and playing concerts in churches along the way. Please keep them in your prayers as they travel and share their love for God through their music. You can see (and hear) their tour concert in the St. Matthew’s sanctuary on Saturday, June 24, at 6:30pm.
Vacation Bible School (VBS) and Kids & Mission Projects (KAMP) will be held at St. Matthew’s from July 17 – 21. Invite your friends and neighbors to this great week of learning about God’s love for kids from 3 years old through 6th grade. You can click here for more information and registration.
That’s all for this week. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family,
I hope you are doing well this week.
This weekend, more than 3,000 United Methodists – both pastors and laity – representing more than 1,100 churches from all over the Commonwealth are gathering this weekend in Hampton for the 2017 session of the Virginia Annual Conference.* The agenda of the Conference includes worship, celebrating the connectional ministries of the Church, and conducting the business of the Conference. St. Matthew’s will be represented by its pastors and elected Lay Members of Annual Conference (Bob Hull, Beth Lanthier, and Lyle Minter.) Retired pastors, as well as St. Matthew’s members who have been elected to represent the Alexandria District, will also be attending. (The total St. Matthew’s delegation will be eleven people.) We ask for your prayers as we travel. We also ask that you pray that everyone who attends the Conference will experience God’s grace and peace as we work together to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. You can find out much more about Annual Conference at this link.
The highlight of this year’s Annual Conference session will be the “Service for the Ordering of Ministry” (also known as the Ordination Service) on Saturday evening at 7:30pm. During the service, St. Matthew’s Associate Pastor, Reverend Grace Han, will be ordained as an Elder in The United Methodist Church. Being ordained is the result of many years of education and preparation. It is a significant accomplishment and the Ordination Service is a special celebration of ministry in the life of every pastor. We are very proud of Grace and are thrilled that she will continue to serve as one of St. Matthew’s pastors. If you haven’t done so already, I hope you will congratulate Grace on her ordination and pray for her and her family as she takes the next step in her journey of discipleship and service.
All Annual Conference sessions – including the Ordination Service – will be live streamed at this link. You can log on and watch the service on Saturday evening.
You will be blessed on Sunday morning by worship services led by members of St. Matthew’s staff and church family. Scott Bach-Hansen, who is a Certified Lay Servant in the Virginia Conference, will share a message based on Psalm 32:6-8, Isaiah 41:8-10. His message will be entitled, LEAD. You will also have an opportunity to bless and commission members of the church family who will be serving God this summer through the Handbell Tour, the Appalachia Service Project, the Jeremiah Project, and the Michelo (Swaziland) Project.
Finally, I want to direct your attention to the weekly announcements and Sunday’s bulletin for more information about some important events coming up:
- A sermon series about the parables of Jesus, Tell Me a Story, starts on July 2. Through his parables, Jesus taught about God, the Kingdom of God, God’s grace, and faithful life. In this series, we’ll look at some of the parables that speak to our lives today.
- Pondering the Parables, a discipleship study led by my wife, Reverend Anne Hough. Class sessions will be on Sunday mornings at 9:45am, starting July 2, and Wednesdays at 7:00pm (after Wednesdays on the Lawn), starting on July 5. No previous Bible study experience is necessary and there is no preparation required for the weekly classes. Come to as many classes as you are able. If you need childcare for the Wednesday evening class, please contact the church office.
- Wednesdays on the Lawn start June 28. These are relaxed opportunities to enjoy good food and fellowship with church friends.
- Registration for Vacation Bible School (VBS) and Kids & Mission Projects (KAMP) is open. VBS and KAMP will be July 17-21. Invite your friends and neighbors to this great week of learning about God’s love for kids from 3 years old through 6th Click here for more information.
Since I won’t see you on Sunday, I want to wish all of the Dads a Happy Father’s Day. I hope everyone has a great weekend.
Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family,
Earlier this week I heard someone say that rest was one of their spiritual disciplines. The context was a conversation about physical and spiritual health and was a specific reference to getting enough sleep.
I’ll be honest and tell you that I’ve never really thought about getting enough sleep as a spiritual discipline. Over the years I’ve preached and taught about the Bible’s instruction to “Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8) I know that Jesus’ pattern of ministry included taking time to get away from the crowds and disciples. On at least one occasion, Jesus encouraged his disciples to “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31) Jesus’ invitation to discipleship included the promise of rest (Matthew 11:28). And once, when Jesus and his disciples found themselves in a storm on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples were upset that Jesus was sleeping (Matthew 8:24).
The point is: rest is an important part of the rhythm of life. The Bible—and the example of Jesus—is clear: rest is part of God’s plan for healthy and abundant lives. Maybe we should think of it as a spiritual discipline. After all, we are no good to God or anyone else when we are exhausted. The individual I mentioned above believed that rest is one of the spiritual disciplines that make his ministry more effective.
But you and I both know that we live in a fast-paced, over-scheduled, 24/7 culture that doesn’t leave much time for rest. And the truth is that we can be too easily tempted to believe that needing (and getting) enough rest is a sign of weakness. We are proud of being busy. We are even proud of being exhausted. I know that there is something satisfying about the feeling of exhaustion we experience at the end of a meaningful project. But I also know that too many people in our community are chronically exhausted and suffer the consequences in many unhealthy ways.
So I want to encourage you—especially as summer begins—to get some rest. Consider making it one of your spiritual disciplines. Trust the promise of Scripture. Follow the example of Jesus. Keep the Sabbath. Take a break. Give yourself permission to breathe once in a while. It is not a sign of weakness; it is a source of strength.
On Sunday morning, we’ll finish up the Trip of a Lifetime sermon series. We’ve been considering how the life of discipleship is the best journey we will ever take. Most of us have experienced a sense of joy and peace and freedom on a family vacation or mission trip. I know that not all travel experiences are filled with joy and peace and freedom, but I believe that getting away from the demands and stress of daily life can offer us a glimpse of the kind of life that Jesus’ intends when he says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) So far we talked about how the Trip of a Lifetime begins when we answer Jesus’ call to follow him. We’ve also talked about how we need to count the cost to take this trip and how it’s not a Trip of a Lifetime unless God goes with us and we take the trip together as the community of believers. The final message will explore the importance of Enjoying the Journey. Psalm 30 and 1 Timothy 6:17-19 will be the Scripture readings.
There are a couple of other things happening on Sunday morning at St. Matthew’s. First, immediately after the 8:15 service, we’re going to have a special dedication service for the church’s courtyard. Bob Hull has made a very generous legacy gift to St. Matthew’s Church in memory of his wife Frankie that will provide for maintenance and improvement of the courtyard for years to come. Everyone is invited to join us in the courtyard on Sunday morning at about 9:15am for a brief ceremony. Second, we’re going to recognize the members of the St. Matthew’s Church family who are graduating this year from high school, college, or post-graduate school. We think graduations are important next steps on our life journeys and are accomplishments worth celebrating.
As we prepare for summer at St. Matthew’s, we are finalizing plans for several upcoming church programs. Over the next few weeks, we have the great joy of sending members of the St. Matthew’s Church family on the Handbell Tour, the Appalachia Service Project, the Jeremiah Project, and the Michelo Project. We’ll also be welcoming children and families from the church and community for a wonderful week of Vacation Bible School. You’ll be hearing more about these programs in the next few weeks, and I know that many of you are participating and are making preparations (for what I hope will be a Trip of Lifetime.) For the rest of the church family, I ask for your prayers. Ask God to bless both the participants and the recipients of these important ministries.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
This Sunday (June 4) is the Day of Pentecost. On Pentecost, we remember how the Holy Spirit came into the lives of Jesus’ disciples and empowered them for ministry. The word “pentecost” means fiftieth day, which is why Pentecost is always seven weeks after Easter. In many Christian communities, Pentecost has equal importance to Christmas and Easter and is celebrated with the same level of energy, passion, and preparation. Even though we do not celebrate Pentecost with the intensity of Christmas, we should not discount its importance or lose sight of its meaning. That’s because Pentecost marks the birthday of the Church. It reminds us that the coming of the Holy Spirit transforms our lives and forms us into the body of Christ, and that Jesus’ ministry in the world continues – through us. I hope you’ll wear something red (for Pentecost) and join us in worship on Sunday morning.
In many congregations, including St. Matthew’s, Pentecost is the traditional day to celebrate confirmations. When we baptize infants and children, parents make a promise to raise their children in the church so that, when they are ready, the children can profess their faith for themselves. As a church, we also make a promise. We promise to surround every family with love and forgiveness and help them grow in their love for God, trust in God’s grace, and serve Christ in their lives. We invest our time, talent, and treasure in ministry with children and youth, so that, on Confirmation Sunday, young men and women can stand before the congregation, profess their faith, and accept the life-changing power of God’s grace for themselves.
I want to thank you for taking these promises seriously and for supporting the families whose sons and daughters will publicly profess their faith at the 11:15 service on Sunday morning. I also want to thank Mike Fee and Leigh Banducci for leading the Confirmation Class, the Faith Friends who have supported their confirmands throughout the year, and the parents who have made the Confirmation Class a priority in their busy lives.
This week, I’ve been meeting with the members of the 2017 Confirmation Class. I’ve been impressed with their maturity and their desire to not only grow in their relationship with God, but also to officially take their place among the membership of St. Matthew’s Church. I’ll tell you what I’ve been telling them: that we need them, and that St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church will be a stronger church because of them. Please join me in (officially) welcoming them to our church family.
This week’s sermon will be the second message in the Trip of a Lifetime series. We know that every journey requires some planning and preparation; the Christian journey is no exception. Jesus counsels his disciples to “count the cost.” If our Christian journey is going to be successful, we need to carefully consider what to take with us, who our traveling companions will be, and what resources will guide our journey. What I hope our confirmands will discover (and the rest of us will remember) is that, at our best, we not only share the company of brothers and sisters in Christ, we trust that the risen Christ and the Holy Spirit journey with us. That’s what makes it the Trip of a Lifetime.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family,
This past Sunday, I was pleased to announce that Grace Han, Bill Moberly, and I have all been appointed to continue serving as St. Matthew’s pastors for another year. In the United Methodist Church, pastors are appointed to the churches they serve for one year at a time. Every year, congregations (through the Staff-Parish Relations Committee), District Superintendents, and pastors review pastoral appointments, so that the mission of the Church can be accomplished most effectively. We are thankful for the prayerful support of the St. Matthew’s Church family and look forward to what God has in store for us in the coming year.
Over the past three years of our ministry together I have come to appreciate the great number of highly committed and generous people that God has brought together to form the Body of Christ in this place. Every day, I hear about someone (usually many more than one) who has responded to God’s call and is sacrificially giving time, talent, and treasure to advance God’s Kingdom in our community. In the past couple of weeks I have been given three numbers that reflect your generosity and your desire to be a blessing to the world in God’s name.
During Lent, you gave more than $10,200 to the Lent Offering. These funds will support the ministries of our covenant missionaries, Clara Biswas and Rebecca Parsons. They will also support Rising Hope UMC’s ministries with some of our hurting neighbors along the Route 1 corridor in Alexandria. Your support of the Pink Elephant Sale last month helped St. Matthew’s Youth Ministry raise $14,600. This money will support youth mission trips and other ministries with youth in our church and community. Then, at the Ring for the Cure Handbell Concert you gave approximately $2,300 for the Susan G. Komen cancer research organization. This is more that $27,000 that will change lives in our own community and around the world. Thank you for your generosity.
On Sunday morning, we are starting a new sermon series called Trip of a Lifetime. It sounds like a cliché to say that “life is a journey,” but the Bible is filled with stories of God’s people taking a variety of journeys – from Abraham and Sarah in Genesis, to the Israelites in Exodus, to Jesus and his disciples in the Gospels, to the apostle Paul who travelled more than 10,000 miles to share the Good News about Jesus.
During the month of June, the church will be honoring graduates and celebrating confirmations. Graduations and confirmations are the beginnings of life-long journeys that involve important decisions, plans and preparations, and bring moment-by-moment joy. But this series is not just for our youth; it is for everyone who wants to take the next steps in their life’s journey. I hope you’ll join us every Sunday as we consider how Christian discipleship is the ultimate Trip of a Lifetime.
Finally, I hope you have a meaningful and enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend as you reflect on the sacrifices made by the men and women who lost their lives in service to our nation. If you are traveling, please be careful. And if you are in town, I look forward to seeing you on Sunday morning.
Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family,
As I write these words, it’s Thursday evening in England. We leave tomorrow morning for our flight back to Dulles. We’ve had a wonderful time visiting with family and friends. We spent time with Anne’s brother and his family as well as Anne’s college roommate and her family. It was nice to renew relationships while also getting some much needed rest and relaxation. Thankfully, the weather was great and we enjoyed both the amazing city of London and the beautiful English countryside.
We are very grateful for the opportunity to take this vacation and want to thank the staff and church leaders – especially Grace Han – who covered for us while we were away.
This is going to be a special Sunday at St. Matthew’s. At the 8:15 and 11:15 services, the Children’s Choirs will be present their musical, Judge Julie Truly. It’s a great story based on one of my favorite Bible stories from Mark 2; it tells us about the life-changing power of God’s forgiveness. The children have been working very hard over the past couple of months to prepare for Sunday’s services. I’m looking forward to seeing them share the Gospel story and inspire us to experience the amazing grace of God. I know you will be blessed as you discover how St. Matthew’s music and children’s ministries are making a difference in the lives of our children.
At the 9:45 service, the Modern Worship Team will be leading a new-fashioned hymn sing: familiar songs set to new music. This is one of the Sundays in the year that we encourage you to attend more than one worship service on Sunday morning. I hope you’ll attend one of the children’s musical services and the hymn sing too. It is going to be a great Sunday at St. Matthew’s.
There are several other special events happening at St. Matthew’s in the coming weeks. These include confirmation Sunday, graduate recognition, blessing of mission teams, and a new sermon series called Trip of a Lifetime. Look for details in weekly announcements and Sunday bulletins and let us help you grow in your faith as we follow Jesus together.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday morning.