Dear Church Family,
First, I want to begin by reminding you that we have postponed our anticipated reopening for worship. You can hear more about that update in the video below. Please know we will inform you as soon as we make a new date for our regathering.
When I began thinking about the launch and its scrub, I remembered how excited I felt the weekend of the Falcon 9 Launch with the Crew Dragon capsule. Watching the two astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, prepare, I felt so immensely proud to be a resident of Brevard County, and I felt proud of our country. I know so many of you have worked on and alongside NASA, the Kennedy Space Center, and SpaceX to prepare for historic launches and explorations of our solar system. This work was and is offered as a service to our country and world. It is something we as your church family, and Americans, can be proud of with you.
As I reflect on this and the 4th of July weekend, I feel grateful, as always, to live in our country. While we always are pursuing a more perfect union, the freedom we are afforded as Americans cannot be taken for granted. When we serve one another, care for our neighbor, explore far reaches of the solar system, we are honoring that more perfect union, and working to build it. Our citizenship as Americans is at its best when we are using our freedom by giving ourselves for others.
This is true of our discipleship, too.
In our United Methodist confessional, there is a line that my heart catches on every time. It says, “Free us for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” In Christ, we are afforded freedom from sin and death. Yet, we are not just offered freedom from, we are offered freedom to. Freedom to a life lived in service to Christ and others. Freedom to a life dedicated to noticing and imagining the Kingdom of God all around us. Freedom to a life of empathy and listening to those whom the world has not been kind. Freedom to a life of service; of giving; of love.
This freedom is what compelled us to postpone our worship services on July 12th.
Sure, we are free “from” the restrictions previously imposed by the state and the annual conference. Yet we are also free “to” care well for our neighbor. We are free to be cautiously optimistic, and to cautiously pause. This was not comfortable (discipleship is often not comfortable) but we knew it was right. We may see a rapid decline in cases, and we will still feel as though our freedom has been exercised well. We were free to love God and neighbor in extraordinary ways, and we feel encouraged that our choice is in line with this mission.
You, too, are free in Christ. You can feel your freedom as an excuse to be free from restriction and empathy, or you can feel your freedom as an opportunity to live the love of Christ in every way imaginable… even when it is uncomfortable.
I am so proud to be your pastor. This weekend marks two years of appointed ministry here at Suntree. I did tell people how proud I was a lot before this pandemic, but I am more proud now. This pride surges as I have watched you the past few months as you have given generously, adapted quickly, and been such an encouraging presence to me and to our world. You exercise your freedom well, and it is a joy to be a small part of that work.
I hope you enjoy your freedom this weekend and use it to better your neighborhood and your world. (And maybe enjoy a socially distanced backyard cookout?)