Pastor's E-Letter

Pastor's E-Letter

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Pastor's E-Letter 8/2/19

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As summer comes to a close, wrapping up another season of ministry at Suntree United Methodist, I’ve been reflecting on the “season” of life I find myself in: wedding season! If you’ve spent any amount of time with me in the last six months or so, you’ll know that I have been going on trips to celebrate as many of my friends “tie the knot” and commit to lifelong love.

With this commitment comes a few standard wedding practices: speeches, gifts, dancing, and many, many clichés. There are so many traditions and hilarious sayings that I have heard as I’ve stood next to my friends, and I expect these standard practices will continue. While I’ve been known to roll my eyes at the sweet and simple advice contained in these clichés, I remember they’re clichés for a reason. They contain a nugget of truth in a parabolic, yet simple way. In that way, they are important.

One cliché that sometimes is used around weddings, but especially around life transition, is: “Life is a journey, not the destination.” This saying is often posted in offices, homes, and in places of inspiration. While we may grow tired from hearing it over and over again in our culture, it is true! Life is not arriving- it is a slow process of journeying through the highs and lows, the mountains and the valleys, and the joy and the grief.

This is what our new sermon series, “Back to Basics” is all about. Sometimes when we follow Jesus we think that we will “arrive” at some version of perfection, love, or faithfulness. We think that we are exempt from continued discipline or effort, and that we can “rest on our laurels” in our faith in God.

Unfortunately, friends, discipleship is not a destination, either!

Nietzsche described faithfulness as “a long obedience in the same direction.” This is what being a disciple is all about! Even if we have been following Jesus all our lives, we are still moving on into deeper understandings of who God is, and how to love our neighbors well. In this way, our journey with Jesus never ends. Indeed, there is no destination until we reach our final rest in God.

I hope that you truly will go “Back to Basics” with us, engaging your faith in new ways and growing deeper in your relationship with Christ. All throughout this series we’ll offer options to engage in our various ministries and mission essentials. Pastor Annette and I are going to offer two opportunities for you to study A Disciple’s Path, which we hope you’ll sign up for on Sunday. This Sunday we’ll also complete our backpack project, which has been a part of our “long obedience” to the call of our missional God at Harbor City Elementary School. Don’t forget to bring yours in! Each of these things is an opportunity to engage the basics of our faith: prayer, presence, gifts, service, and witness.

In all of this, we will also talk about how God never stops shaping us, never stops working in our hearts and lives to bring about the fruits of the Spirit. Our call is to continue to notice and engage in our faith, following our God to new places and in new ways.

Discipleship is a journey, not a destination. I hope you’ll join us in re-engaging our faith as we begin this school year again.

See you then,

Pastor Allee

Posted by Allee Willcox with

Pastor's E-Letter 07/05/19

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Happy Belated Independence Day! I hope you have enjoyed your holiday with your family, celebrating the gift of freedom that we have as Americans and remembering the gift of freedom that we have in Christ.

As my second year officially begins, I am still getting used to the way that the 4th of July works around here. A part of that is new knowledge- the bridges close on the evening of the 4th so the fireworks can be set off! I had no idea. However, the explanation made sense to me: it would be dangerous with the smoke and the fireworks right next to the bridge while folks drive. This fact reminded me of one fourth of July in particular in my family.

My childhood home is in a subdivision right off of a lake (Lake Dora), and across the lake is downtown, where all of the 4th of July festivities were always held. When we were little, my mom would pile us into our little green wagon and wheel us down to our subdivision’s dock, and we would watch the fireworks with our neighbors and friends. It was a fun family tradition, right next to the annual 4th of July parade in downtown Mount Dora. However, a few years of my childhood were marked by massive drought. There were no fireworks on the lake because we were terrified of starting a wildfire (some of you may remember these years in central Florida).

Then, the drought lifted, and the 4th of July came around again. We were so excited to reinitiate our family tradition. We had no idea we were in for a surprise! All of the fireworks from the years before had been saved. Then, we watched the most impressive and fabulous fireworks show I have ever seen. The way it was talked about in the months and years after, you would’ve thought we rivaled New York City that night!

A major part of the legend is what happened after the show: the incredible cloud of smoke from the fireworks blew across the lake and caused low visibility for us living on the other side! It wasn’t extreme, but just enough for us to remember again that something impressive had happened. When you light a bunch of things on fire, you will get smoke!

This Sunday in worship we’ll talk about low visibility in other areas of our lives. Sometimes, life can feel dark and murky, filled with low-visibility and confusion. Sometimes, in the midst of this, there are no impressive fireworks, just a sense that we cannot hear God’s call. As we talk about Gideon on Sunday, we’ll remember that he had low visibility too. Gideon asked God for signs over and over that God was with him. God answered- and showed the miraculous help that he could give Gideon, even in the midst of crippling doubt.

Whether your spirituality feels like a giant firework show or driving through foggy smoke, God is with you. Whether we feel God or not, God loves you and is present. As we recalculate through life, God will continue to guide us. Let’s think together this Sunday about how we can listen for that still, small voice.

One final thing! As we prepare to listen for God for ourselves, be sure to be praying for our children and their leaders as they learn more about the love God has for them at VBS, beginning 7/8. Our church does so much work in the lives of students and children to help teach them about this encompassing love, and how to hear God’s voice. I’m excited to see all that comes from our wonderful VBS program!

I’ll see you then!

Pastor Allee

Posted by Allee Willcox with