Pastor's E-Letter

Pastor's E-Letter

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Pastor's E-Letter 3/6/20

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Like you, the staff at Suntree UMC has been keeping track of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. 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. Below are a few things to keep in mind:
 
There are currently no plans to cancel services. Should this become necessary, we will certainly communicate that change.
 
For now, we are recommending that we all follow CDC guidelines to not only help prevent the spread of this disease, but to also practice good personal health habits. The CDC recommends:
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
-  If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.
  • If you come into contact with an individual who has recently traveled to an area that the CDC has issued a level 2 or level 3 health notice such as China, Italy, south Korea, and Japan, there are protocols in place:
-  Immediately contact your local county health department upon developing symptoms, before visiting a doctor.
-  Individuals can be evaluated at any local hospital. ANY local hospital is equipped to handle COVID-19. Testing will be conducted in Jacksonville, Miami or Tampa.
 
We also want to continue to encourage everyone to greet one another with a warm hello and a smile rather than a handshake or a hug.
 
We also have posted handwashing instructions in all our restrooms.
 
All communion servers will be using hand sanitizers, as was done this past Sunday. We will also investigate individual communion elements that are sealed for our next communion service.
Again, we strongly encourage you to follow these practices to keep every safe and healthy. We will continue to closely monitor the spread of the virus and post updates as it develops. To keep up to date with our latest communication, we encourage to check out our website (suntreeumc.org), follow us on Facebook, and continue to read our weekly E-Letter.
 
All of that said, this Sunday in worship we will continue in our Lenten journey, "The Landscape of Lent". This week we will focus on Jesus' encounter with Nicodemus found in John 3:1-17 and explore Jesus' what it means to embrace Jesus' words, "The wind blows where it chooses..." the "wind" being another word for Spirit. What does it mean for us to embrace a faith, a love, a grace in Christ that cannot be contained or controlled? Where do you feel the wind of the Spirit blowing in your life? What is the evidence of the Holy Spirit working in you, in our church, in our world? What does it mean to embrace and God who loves the world so much that God gives and gives and gives again? I hope you will join us in worship this week as we continue to explore the landscape of Lent together.
 
In the meantime, please be safe and remember to wash your hands!
 
Pastors Annette, Allee, and Augie
 
 
*Below is a list of resources for further learning and updates:
 
 
 

Pastor's E-Letter 2/28/20

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One of my favorite places in Brevard County is Rockledge Gardens. I love visiting their Farmer’s Market on the weekends and wandering through their expansive collection of flowers, vegetables, and foliage. In each detail of their careful landscaping, I sense care and I find delight.

When I visit Rockledge Gardens, I am especially struck by how lush everything always is. As I read the selected Scripture passages for the beginning of Lent this week, I got stuck on the lush garden imagery of Genesis 1-3. Adam and Eve are placed in a garden of abundance- everything they could ever want! They have all they need, and then some. Yet the serpent is still able to tempt them away from this abundance and into scarcity, suffering, and pain. Despite its beautiful, careful creation, the garden is not enough for Adam and Eve’s fallible human hearts.

The beginning of Lent is marked by this passage because in the 40 Days of Lent we are confronted with our own sinfulness. In the lush beauty of gardens and the abundance of our lives, we would much rather choose disobedience, competition, and scarcity. We are manipulated by the whispers of the world, asked to forgo what God has called us to for “forbidden fruit.” Whether we like to admit it for the other 325 days of the year, Lent calls us to our brokenness, mortality, and fallibility. We are dust; we are human. Instead of a soothing garden, we are forced into a wilderness of our own making, instructed to reflect and repent.

This wilderness of our lives is also why the first week of the Gospel readings in Lent is Matthew 4. Jesus has just left the height of love and abundance in his baptism. He has been called, claimed, and is named the Son of God. The Spirit then immediately leads him into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days. This passage is highly symbolic! In the heights of our lives, we are often tempted to forget our identity. Jesus spends 40 days, just like the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert.

However, the story changes. In the end, he is not tempted by the Devil’s crafty use of Scripture. Jesus, grounded in the love and identity that God has given him, says no to power, prestige, and religious superiority. This, amidst the nothingness of the desert wilderness. This image, of Jesus refusing Satan’s crafty words, is meant to contrast with Adam and Eve’s fallibility amid abundance. How much of our lives are filled with temptation because we live in such excess?

The landscape of both of these moments is significant and is the basis of our remembrance in Lent. For 40 days, we will fast and pray to examine ourselves and our lives. As we journey through the “Landscape of Lent” throughout our sermon series, we will be reminded that there is much in the “landscape” of our lives that need tending to and examining. We often do this examination through disciplines, and denial, just as Jesus did in the wilderness. We give up chocolate, take on other good habits, or add more prayer to our lives. These things are meant to get to the root of our sinfulness and help us see our interior landscape as it truly is.

If you’re still struggling with what to give up or take on this Lenten season, we’ll have an opportunity for you to think about it in worship. It is never too late to begin this self-examination process! Additionally, if you’re desiring to take something on, don’t forget about our Lenten Journey series as we examine the Scripture passages from Sunday morning, with an eye towards a specific spiritual discipline each week.

Each moment of Lent invites us into the quiet reflection of the wilderness, following after Jesus. It contains the task to remember our dust and to be thankful. I hope you’ll join us as we journey through this season together.

Peace,

Pastor Allee

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