Pastor's E-Letter

Pastor's E-Letter

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COVID-19 Update - 03/13/20

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Dear Suntree Family,
 
On Wednesday of this past week, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a “pandemic.” While there are (as of this writing) still no confirmed cases of the “coronavirus,” in Brevard County, we at Suntree UMC know that this has been an anxious time for so many of you as we follow the news updates and listen to local authorities. We have been, and will continue to, carefully monitor the coronavirus through the Brevard County Health Department and Florida Department of Health and provide further guidance for everyone as we walk through this uncertain time.
 
To begin, we wanted to let you know that there are still no plans to cancel services at this time. Should this become necessary, we will communicate this change.
 
I encourage you to go back and read our previous pastoral letter on this subject, here, but wanted to remind you of a few resources that you can look at for ongoing updates from national, state, and local authorities. These are the sources we are following as well, and we encourage you to keep yourself informed.
 
http://brevard.floridahealth.gov/
http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/COVID-19/
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
 
In the meantime, we wanted to let you know of a few precautions we are taking as leadership, staff, and worship volunteers to keep you safe. This is in addition to the previous precautions taken, including keeping “social distance,” leaving out hand sanitizer, and posting hand washing instructions.
 
If you are sick, or if you are worried for your own health, we do not want to shame or pressure you into coming to worship. Starting 3/15, we will post videos of our sermons online and on our Facebook page. We hope to begin live streaming soon as well.
Starting on 3/15, we will not pass the offering plate or welcome books in order to protect you further from hand-to-hand contact. We will have offering baskets in the back of our worship spaces in order to collect the offering and will take a headcount instead for worship attendance.
We encourage you to follow up with those who normally sit around you, attend your Sunday School classes, and are a part of your Life Groups, as without specific attendance, we will not be able to follow up as closely as we were previously. Offer Christ’s love by being a good neighbor and keeping track of the most vulnerable among us.
We will continue to avoid close or hand-to-hand contact in worship by not hugging or shaking hands. Please respect your neighbor’s distance- and if you’re looking for a roomier service, our 8am would love to see you!
Our Guest Services team will wear gloves and be the single point of contact with doors, bulletins, and we have revised our refreshment offerings. Please respect their work in this!
 
In addition to Sunday morning precautions, we have received questions about events at Suntree. We wanted you to be aware of the following updates. As things are rescheduled or canceled any further, we will let you know.
 
Journey Dinner will be canceled for the rest of the semester out of an abundance of caution. We will still have Bible Study at 6:30pm on Wednesdays through April 1st.
The TNT Senior Adult lunch will be canceled this Friday.
We will follow local, state, and national authorities in regard to other events and endeavor to keep you updated about them in any way that we can.
 
We know how easy it is to feel overwhelmed by the amount of events being canceled and precautions being taken all over the world. We feel that, too! But scripture invites us in 1 Peter 5:7 to, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” Our God has so loved each of us that God desires relationship and to hear all of our worries. God also desires that we love our neighbors as ourselves. Our charge here at Suntree is to continue that work of loving ourselves and others in extraordinary ways through prayer, and also taking precautions.
 
May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, and we hope to see you Sunday. Please keep on the lookout for further updates and be safe!
 
Peace,
Pastors Annette, Allee, and Augie

Pastor's E-Letter 3/13/20

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A couple of weeks ago in our first Lenten Journey class, we discussed the importance of the spiritual discipline of fasting. We talked over what it might mean to give up ice cream, electronics, even food for a couple of days, or even a week. While we know that fasting can be difficult for folks with eating disorders and other health issues, we discussed the spirituality of such a choice. Finally, we asked a doctor in the room how long one could go without food or water.

They told us that we can survive without food for about forty days before it is an emergency. (That length of time is lessened by any health issues we may have.) However, we can only survive three days without water before it is an emergency.

Three. Days.

Water is necessary for our life. It is almost as essential as air. It is the reason why scientists look for water as a sign of the possibility of life on other planets: water is not just important for us as humans, it is necessary for almost every form of life. It is why, here in Brevard, we hear so much about protecting our waterways and oceans. We know that without clean water, we would all be in deep trouble. This is also why we all rush to buy water before a hurricane, worried that if our water went out or was contaminated, we would be in deep trouble before the storm passed. The list goes on and on.

Water is necessary for our life and our flourishing.

In our Scripture passage for Sunday, Jesus has a lot to say about water. In knowing how important water is to our lives, it is no wonder that Jesus would compare his salvation to God’s living water.

In his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus is making a radical statement about the character of God, and God’s living water. First, the grace God offers us is necessary for our survival and our flourishing. Jesus offers it without hesitation, and we are promised we will never be thirsty again. The second message of Jesus in this moment is that the water is offered to us at our lowest point, when we are furthest away from God’s loving grace. The woman at the well was there at noonday because she had been rejected by her community and had lived a life that she was not proud of. She was beholden to cultural forces of rejection and scorn, and in this hot, dusty moment, Jesus offers her the promise of love and grace that will never run dry.

Where is that dry and dusty part of your life? Where do you feel lowest, rejected, the least lovable version of yourself? Know that Jesus meets you here, and offers his living water, from a well that will never run dry and a promise that we will never be thirsty again.

I can’t wait to continue to explore this scripture passage with you Sunday- we’ll see you then!

Peace,
Pastor Allee

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