MATTHEWS – Senior Pastor Chuck Wilson delivered Palm Sunday services and Holy Communion to an empty sanctuary April 5 at Matthews United Methodist Church, but his message reached the congregation via Facebook and YouTube.
Services will continue to be virtual through Easter Sunday and for the duration of county and state stay-at-home orders spurred by the spread of coronavirus.
“Now we understand online worship may be new to some of you – it’s still pretty new to all of us as well,” Pastor Paul Craig said to kick-off the April 5 service. “But here at Matthews United Methodist, we’re committed to keeping our community safe and to protect the most vulnerable in our midst during this global health crisis.”
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Church staff tried to make the service interactive by encouraging the congregation to say they were present in the comments, offering links to the online resources and encouraging members to email selfies of their families to help the sanctuary look full and vibrant to staff.
The church also encouraged people to use this short action prayer each time they watch their hands: “Help me and my church, O God, to be a source of hope and encouragement to all.”
Wilson’s Palm Sunday sermon continued his series examining the questions Jesus asked on his way to the cross. Specifically, he talked about the question, “Who do you say I am?”
Wilson described Holy Week as the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem with cheering crowds and jeering soldiers, intimate suppers and brutal executions, and empty tombs and conspiracy theories.
“We know the shock and the joy this story unleashed,” Wilson said. “That’s the reason why God invites us year after year to re-enter this incomparable story.
“This year given our circumstances in shelter in place, my heart is more ready to go to the table on Maundy Thursday, to the cross on Good Friday and to our resurrection garden on Easter Sunday perhaps maybe [more] than ever before.
“Now certainly the week ahead will not be quite as we would typically celebrate these High Holy days, but perhaps this year we will be more attuned to the spirit because of our plight.”
Want to watch?
Matthews United Methodist Church will hold virtual Easter Sunday worship on April 12 at www.YouTube.com/MatthewsUMC or www.Facebook.com/MatthewsUMC. Services include a contemporary worship at 9:30 a.m. and traditional worship at 11 a.m. Visit www.MatthewsUMC.org for details.
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