Pastor's E-Letter

Pastor's E-Letter

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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,

Pastor's E-Letter 06/21/19

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One morning this week as I drove into work, I was listening to a summer playlist and the song, "We are Family," by Sister Sledge came on. Immediately I thought of my family. When this song comes on at our family weddings, my mom and her sisters rush to the dance floor and sing it to one another, laughing and holding hands in a circle. It helps that in the chorus, it says, "I've got all my sisters with me!" which feels highly relatable to a family that has 6 sisters and two sisters-in-law. It is one of my favorite things, as the rest of the family all joins in with them.

As we prepare for my sister's wedding later this year, I know that that song will make it on the playlist. It has to! It is an affirmation of our family tie. It is a way we remind ourselves (even though we couldn't forget) that we are stuck together in this life. I have spoken a lot around here about how large my extended family is. There have been a lot of weddings where we have danced to this song! As I told you when I arrived, my earliest childhood memories are of this joy and love. I could tell you a thousand other stories of how this familial love has shown up in my life, but you would run out of time reading, and I have a sermon to write!

Summertime can be filled with familial activities. Weddings, reunions, vacations, oh my! Some of these family activities are fun and exciting. For some of us, though, family memories can be painful, especially in the face of loss or hardship. Sometimes, our family ties are not strong because of brokenness, and this can be heart wrenching as well. Family is often complicated and painful amidst joy and a unique bond.

This week in worship, we'll be discussing a non-traditional set of familial relationships. As we talk about Ruth and Naomi, we will be reminded that Ruth told Naomi, "I will go where you go." When I read this, I hear, "We are family! You're stuck with me." And while Naomi and Ruth are not related by blood, they are bonded by the unspeakable tragedy of loss. They lean on each other when there is no one else, and they forge a new life for themselves amidst the breakdown of what was traditionally expected of families. While Ruth and Naomi may have experienced the "Dead End" of the loss of sons and husbands, they found another way, recalculating a new route in an unexpected loss.

The other thing we'll remind ourselves of this weekend is the importance of community. When Ruth and Naomi make their way back to the land of Judah, they are met by Boaz, a member of Naomi's extended family. His faithfulness to the law of Israel and care for the stranger among their community meant that Naomi and Ruth would have another person to walk a new road with. The whole community receives them in the midst of their loss of family and affirms a new way of being. This is the community of faith at its best. Ruth and Naomi are ableto make a new life because the faith community in their time rose up to support them. They, too, said, "We are family!" and lived that out in tangible ways.

So while we celebrate our families of origin, we can also celebrate the family of faith. We can work together to be a place where all are loved, welcomed, and affirmed. We can care for one another in mutuality and help each other make new ways when all we can see are our own dead ends.

I know you're already up to that work, and I'm grateful to join you.

See you Sunday,
Pastor Allee
Posted by Allee Willcox with