Pastor's E-Letter

Pastor's E-Letter

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Pastor's E-Letter 05/08/20

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Dear  Suntree Family,

 Many years ago, Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” After Pastor Annette’s sermon last Sunday, I have been thinking a lot about who our helpers are during this pandemic. The images that spring to mind, of course, are the front-line workers: healthcare workers, pharmacists, hospital employees (from surgeons to the maintenance staff), grocery store clerks and delivery drivers. The list goes on. If you are considered “essential” during this time, you are helping each of us move through an incredibly difficult season, and I’m grateful for you. It is no small thing to be a helper during these days.

This week in worship, we continue to get closer to the idea of “the helpers,” with Acts of Service. In Acts 6, in the frenzy of growth, the community has begun to neglect its obligation to care for widows and orphans. When they hear this complaint, the leaders gather everyone together to discuss the issue, and then appoint seven “to serve.” These individuals are selected for this service because of their deep wisdom, good standing, and connection to the Holy Spirit.

This model of service is offered to us as encouragement and a challenge. On the one hand, this is the picture of an incredibly healthy church. In it, we are encouraged that each voice is valued in the family of God, and each gift matters. This is why as United Methodists, we work by committee. But we also receive this word as a challenge. If we are all gifted, then we are all called to serve. This is why at Suntree we have invited all of our new members to fill out a “Called to Serve” survey. We believe you are called to use the gifts God has given you in service of our hurting world.

This is especially true during the Coronavirus Pandemic. In the serve section below is a call for us to work together to feed our neighbors. If this is within your ability, we encourage you to use your gifts in this way! But if it is not- serve within leadership, make masks, commit to prayer, and be a wise voice in your community. Of course, you all are already up to these things in our community. So many of you are serving in unique ways, giving of your time and talent to transform the world. You are those helpers Mr. Rogers talks about: mask makers, first responders, prayer warriors, and compassionate friends to those on the front lines. It is in watching you that I feel immense hope, even in great uncertainty.

This Sunday in worship, we will celebrate the ways we use this very process to elect our leadership and empower church members to serve and lead in our congregational community. We will also ask you to ponder: where are you being called to serve? How can you honor this apostolic tradition of service, wisdom, and Holy Spirit ministry? For the church to transform the world in the name of Jesus, we need all of our hands and feet on the move, loving our neighbors in extraordinary ways. 

Peace,

Pastor Allee

 PS: Today is Mary Estes' 100th Birthday! Happy Birthday, Mary! We're so grateful for your life and presence at Suntree. We also wanted to extend these celebratory greetings to anyone who has had a milestone birthday or anniversary during this time of social distancing!  

 

Posted by Allee Willcox with

Pastor's E-Letter 05/01/20

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Dear Suntree Family,

Ok, before you get started with this, take a moment and think about this question: “What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?”

 And remember, I’m asking about courage, not craziness! A lot of us could answer the craziness question pretty easily! I have a best friend (all the way from high school) who, at the age of 17, was working at a large hotel in Orlando. The hotel was 10 stories high. One day, he took the elevator up to the 10th floor and opened a window and threw his shoes up on the roof! Why did he do that? Because he reasoned that with his shoes on the roof, he’d have to climb up there, somehow, and retrieve them. So he did that. He climbed out of the 10th story window, put his hands on the ledge of the top of the building, and pulled himself up. That’s not courageous, that’s crazy!

 A few moments ago, I asked a wonderful young lady in our youth ministry (a 6th grader) to read Scripture this week via video for our Sunday service. I could tell she was nervous about it. I invited her to be courageous and kick fear in the face. And she did that! I was so happy!

I have tried to be courageous in life without being too crazy. As a kid, I was happy to jump off the bridge into the lake, but not until I checked to make sure the lake was deep enough! But I was never going to step out of a 10th story window onto the roof. That’s just crazy!

This Sunday, we’re going to be talking about courage. You’ll hear and see more about this Sunday, of course, but part of the lesson has Peter saying this: “We must obey God rather than any human authority.” (Don’t read too much into that sentence — we still have to obey laws, respect authority, etc.) The narrative is a story about courage. And not just any ole courage! It’s Christian courage — the courage to stand up for what you believe as a Christ-follower. Sounds cool, eh?! And it is. But it is one of those “easier said than done” things.

So how about you? When you think about your life as a Christian, is it (at least in part) a story of courage? Are you courageous enough to stand up (maybe even on social media!!) and courageously go against the grain? Are you courageous enough to do the right thing, even when it means being laughed at or ridiculed? Are you courageous enough to dig deep into God’s Word and perhaps, dare I say, miss out on the latest gossip, social media ramblings, and/or enticing yet hurtful rumors?! Think of this: The Bible is full of courageous heroes who are cheering us on to courageousness (Hebrews 12)!

So are you courageous? You probably are. I know that there have been times in my life when I’ve been courageous for Jesus … But I’ve also been a big chicken. It’s a journey that we’re all on and it is well worth the effort! So, I invite you to tune in this week to our online service to be encouraged and cheered on to live the courageous Christian life! It’s a glorious life, full of joy and challenge! And, it’s not too crazy!

 Blessings!

Rev. Dr. Joel Lusz

Posted by Joel Lusz with

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