Pastor's E-Letter

Pastor's E-Letter

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Pastor's E-Letter 07/05/19

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Happy Belated Independence Day! I hope you have enjoyed your holiday with your family, celebrating the gift of freedom that we have as Americans and remembering the gift of freedom that we have in Christ.

As my second year officially begins, I am still getting used to the way that the 4th of July works around here. A part of that is new knowledge- the bridges close on the evening of the 4th so the fireworks can be set off! I had no idea. However, the explanation made sense to me: it would be dangerous with the smoke and the fireworks right next to the bridge while folks drive. This fact reminded me of one fourth of July in particular in my family.

My childhood home is in a subdivision right off of a lake (Lake Dora), and across the lake is downtown, where all of the 4th of July festivities were always held. When we were little, my mom would pile us into our little green wagon and wheel us down to our subdivision’s dock, and we would watch the fireworks with our neighbors and friends. It was a fun family tradition, right next to the annual 4th of July parade in downtown Mount Dora. However, a few years of my childhood were marked by massive drought. There were no fireworks on the lake because we were terrified of starting a wildfire (some of you may remember these years in central Florida).

Then, the drought lifted, and the 4th of July came around again. We were so excited to reinitiate our family tradition. We had no idea we were in for a surprise! All of the fireworks from the years before had been saved. Then, we watched the most impressive and fabulous fireworks show I have ever seen. The way it was talked about in the months and years after, you would’ve thought we rivaled New York City that night!

A major part of the legend is what happened after the show: the incredible cloud of smoke from the fireworks blew across the lake and caused low visibility for us living on the other side! It wasn’t extreme, but just enough for us to remember again that something impressive had happened. When you light a bunch of things on fire, you will get smoke!

This Sunday in worship we’ll talk about low visibility in other areas of our lives. Sometimes, life can feel dark and murky, filled with low-visibility and confusion. Sometimes, in the midst of this, there are no impressive fireworks, just a sense that we cannot hear God’s call. As we talk about Gideon on Sunday, we’ll remember that he had low visibility too. Gideon asked God for signs over and over that God was with him. God answered- and showed the miraculous help that he could give Gideon, even in the midst of crippling doubt.

Whether your spirituality feels like a giant firework show or driving through foggy smoke, God is with you. Whether we feel God or not, God loves you and is present. As we recalculate through life, God will continue to guide us. Let’s think together this Sunday about how we can listen for that still, small voice.

One final thing! As we prepare to listen for God for ourselves, be sure to be praying for our children and their leaders as they learn more about the love God has for them at VBS, beginning 7/8. Our church does so much work in the lives of students and children to help teach them about this encompassing love, and how to hear God’s voice. I’m excited to see all that comes from our wonderful VBS program!

I’ll see you then!

Pastor Allee

Posted by Allee Willcox with

Pastor's E-Letter 06/28/2019

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This last Tuesday evening, I spent the evening with 150 or so youth and adults during the Brevard Mission Week evening program time. There were silly games and then a wonderful time of worship through music led by our amazing Mike Mayes and some of our Sunday morning worship Band. Then there was a time of sharing in personal testimonies by four different youth pastors/directors including our own Joel Lusz and Michelle Garrett. Each of them shared something of their own faith journey and the ways they came to know and commit their lives to Jesus.
 
As I sat there, listening, I kept looking around at all these students, those from Suntree and those who came from Alabama and South Carolina to share in this mission experience. And my heart was filled with gratitude. I remembered how important those types of youth ministry experiences were for me and for my faith development. Being connected and rooted in a community that loved and encouraged me, learning to use my gifts and talents to serve and share the love of Jesus, having fun with kids my age, being mentored by caring and committed Christ following adults, and worshipping God together, all of that came together in my life to move me to give my heart and life to loving Jesus and seeking to follow his purposes for my life. All of that came together to shape the choices that I made, would make, and continue to make, to love God, love others and serve the world in the name of Jesus. I would not be who I am, or where I am, without the vital shaping and nurturing I received as a young person in my home church.
 
What moved me Tuesday was seeing that same gift being given, by this church, the church I get to be a part of, to this generation of students! What moved me was imagining all the great things they are already doing, the good choices that they are making right now, and the ones they will make in the future, because of experiences like BMW. What moved me was imagining the impact, the ways that God will be able to use this generation of young people to make this a better world. Sitting before me was the next generation of Christ followers who will go on to be doctors and engineers and teachers, and accountants, and plumbers and preachers and youth directors and moms and dads and citizens and who knows what else. But most important, they will become all those things and do all of that, with a heart for God and a love for Jesus and for his church and for the world Jesus died to save. And honestly, that gives me such hope for the future; for the future of the church, this community and the world.
 
It takes a lot of work to make something like BMW happen. It takes staff time, volunteer servant time, enormous amounts of planning, food, drinks, and resources. And we invest a lot of dollars in our student ministry to be sure. But if you ever wonder if all of that is worth it, then I invite you to come and hang out for a while in our student ministry. Get to know some of these amazing young people. Learn about what they are doing, what they hope to do with their lives. See what they are already doing to love others and be the hands and feet of Jesus in mission and ministry in the world. Do that and I assure you, you will see that the investment we are making in this ministry, in these students, is more than worth it’s weight in gold. I cannot imagine something more important to invest my dollars in. I’m so grateful that I get to have a small part in their faith journey. What a joy. What a privilege. What a blessing.
 
 
This Sunday in worship, you too will have the chance to see a glimpse of what goes on in our student ministry as we celebrate youth mission Sunday and get to hear some of their testimonies from their summer mission experiences. I encourage you, as you listen to our students share those experiences, to imagine where they will be, what a difference they will make in this world, because of what they are experiencing now, in this church. I also encourage you to take time after each service, to meet them and thank them for sharing and being a part of our student ministry. Do that, and I guarantee you will be blessed, because we are truly blessed to be a part of mentoring and shaping this next generation for the cause of Christ and the Kingdom.
 
On another note, I have also been overwhelmed with gratitude this week as I realized that this week, I’m celebrating my 4th anniversary since moving to Suntree to join you in ministry. As I remember those first weeks and months of transition, I am reminded of the wonderful ways that you welcomed me, with open hearts, minds and arms. What a gift that was for Scott and me. And now what a gift to be staying here, entering my 5th year of ministry with you and looking forward to all the exciting work that God is doing in and through us for the kingdom and this community as we continue to live into the goals outlined in our 4D Vision plan. God is so good! God has done such so much already and I’m so excited about what the next year (and years) will bring. Thank you for being such a warm, loving, welcoming faith community. Thanks for all the ways you serve Christ and one another. Thanks for all the ways you give to make ministry happen in this place and beyond.
 
In the words of Dag Hammarskjold, “For all that has been, Thanks! For all that will be, Yes!
 
Grace and Peace,
 
Annette
 

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