Pastor's E-Letter

Pastor's E-Letter

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Pastor E-Letter 3/20/20

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I’m sure your week has been full of questions and concerns, anxiety and fear. The same has been true for our household. This Monday was the first day of spring break and, as of last Friday, was the beginning of a long absence from school for our kids. All four of our kids attend school either here at the church or Suntree Elementary. This was the beginning of a long break from school and a lot of questions about how we were going to deal with childcare and making sure our kids continued getting a good education at home. Like many of you, this is just one aspect of questions surrounding our jobs, our families, our world and even our worship here at church. To say this has been a stressful week, would be an understatement.

When I get to that point of stress and anxiety, I usually try to find a project to keep myself occupied. Monday afternoon I decided I would work on the sprinkler system at the house. The system has been off for a few months. One of our sprinkler heads had been broken and the line buried. I thought I would just dig it out by hand and find the water coming out, but instead just found rocks and dry sand. I got some tools and started digging the hole deeper and found the line with a broken piece on the end. I removed the broken piece and prepared myself for the gushing water and…nothing. The line was dry, I didn’t understand. Then about 6 to 7 inches of mud came pushing out of the line and burst through, right into my face and all over me. I was able to use this new gusher to wash my face off and take off all the mud and dirt and when I did all I saw was four beautiful faces laughing and running through the water. My kids thought it was the greatest thing ever. They laughed and played in the water and helped me put on a new sprinkler head. I was blind with stress and anxiety and then I could see the beauty of the blessings in my life.

Our scripture this week from John 9:1-41 reminds us of a blind man and how Jesus used mud to heal him. As I spent time in the scripture today, I laughed thinking about my kids' faces and the squeals of delight and joy they had. I was so blind to the world that I couldn’t see the blessings that continue to fill me with Joy. It’s so easy to be blind to what God is doing around us right now. It would be easier to follow the never-ending newsfeed of anxiety and fear. Sometimes it might take a bit of a surprise by the spirit to burst forth and show us the light of God all around. I believe as disciples we have that healing balm in Jesus to know the good news of who loves us. To know that in the toughest moments full of all that is wrong in the world, God still desires for us to see the beauty all around. That is the kind of healing I think we could all use.

I hope for all of us to find a moment when we can remove the mud from our eyes and see the beauty around us. As tough as it may be right now, I promise you it is there. It is definitely there.

This week we are offering an online worship experience through our website (suntreeumc.org/live) and through our Facebook page at facebook.com/suntreeumc. Though we may not be in each other’s physical presence, we are together in the spirit. Praise God for the ability to stay connected through this time!

This week we will also be closing the Church Office for normal business hours. If you need to reach someone, we will be able to answer calls to the main church phone line as well as emails to .

With Grace & Peace,

Rev. Augie Allen
Pastor of Outreach
Suntree United Methodist Church

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Pastor's E-Letter 1/03/20

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     This morning was the first time I have had to opportunity to get out and run since mid-December. Once my family arrived in town and the busyness of the season caught up with me, getting outside at 5 am wasn’t my priority. Starting over again today, it almost felt like my first time running. However, as I sit here writing this letter, I am reminded of my New Year Goals last year. At some, I succeeded. I completed my first half Marathon this last month and I competed in a fun-spirited CrossFit competition called Festivus. Both goals were fun. They took a lot of preparation, training, encouragement and great friends to work with. I also exceeded all my expectations in accomplishing those goals, finishing 15 minutes faster than expected at the race and winning a “Spirit Award” with my teammate at the Festivus Games. It always feels great to accomplish a stated goal.

     What’s tough is knowing the goals I didn’t meet. I fell short of meeting another personal goal for my physical health and have quite a bit more work to do. For the past few years, I have been working on a personal goal and put it up on the board at the gym each year. Three years in a row now. That stings just saying it out loud. You see, as much fun as reaching those other goals last year, this goal continues to be a struggle and one that isn’t going away anytime soon. When I come to the new year I like to look back on my goals and see how grace has interacted in my life to keep me going. Friends, family, even complete strangers in some ways have offered encouragement to keep me going, especially around the 2-hour mark during the half-marathon. There have been so many examples of people who helped me work through my goals, even when I slipped up, didn’t train as hard or missed a day in the gym. All the while grace seems to abound in the goals that I’ve completed and the ones I’m still working on.

     What I find interesting is how important grace is to any goal that we set, especially this time of year. Grace is the encouragement to know that when we fail, there is something there to offer us the next step in the right direction. When we want to give up, or just say “it’s not worth it”, or my favorite saying “I’ll start again tomorrow,” we find grace there beckoning to keep going. Grace was there before we knew we needed to change, grace is there to beckon us onward and grace is what will be the thing we proclaim the most when we reach our goals. Wesley would call it prevenient, justifying and sanctifying grace.

     Where do you need grace in your goals, in your life, relationships and so much more? Where can you recognize that grace is there with a hand out to you calling you back into working towards that goal? For me, it was a text message from a friend inviting me to get out and run this morning. I thank God for that kind of grace. It never fails, it never gives up. I pray for you to see that in your goals and in every part of your life in the new year. One way to start thinking about how that grace has entered our lives is through worship. This Sunday we will be looking at John 1:1-18 and discovering what a Grace-Filled New Year looks like.

     Looking forward to a wonderful day of worship with you on Sunday!

With Grace & Peace,
Augie

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