Pastor's E-Letter 04/17/20
Dear Suntree Family,
"Go with your love to the fields. Lie down in the shade. Rest your head in her lap. Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts. As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it. Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn't go. Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection." Excerpt from "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" by Wendell Berry
I was reminded of this poem by my devotional reading this past Monday and the last words captured my heart, "Practice resurrection." Berry invites us to embrace a countercultural way of living which is exemplified by the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection didn't make sense. It didn't follow the accepted rules of life as we know it. And so, as people who seek to live in and through the resurrection of Christ, we are invited to defy the status quo by living a countercultural kind of life.
I've been pondering what that means for us as followers of a resurrected Christ during this global pandemic. What does it mean to claim and live in the light and power of Christ's resurrection amid so much darkness? What does it mean to be a witness to the light, while at the same time, not ignoring the real pain, grief, and sadness that permeates our world and our own days?
For me, I believe it may mean that I pay attention to all the pain and sadness. I weep with those who weep, I mourn with those who mourn. I pray for the suffering that is all around. I pray for myself and for all of us as we navigate this isolation, this economic fallout, this utter upheaval of our normal routines. And I pay attention to my own soul and own those moments when I just need to slow down and be sad and sit with the weight of it all.
But I do not grieve as those who have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13) When I am tempted to give in to despair, I remember we are not alone. I remember that Christ is Risen. I give thanks for the day before me. I give thanks for the opportunities it represents. I give thanks for the gifts that surround me even in the darkness. And then I get to work again, even when it would be easier to just give up and lie in bed and feel awful. I call or text a friend or family member, I clean my house, I cook and read and do puzzles and watch mindless TV. This is what it means to practice resurrection. I keep living and hoping and believing the end will come.
And I continue the work that we are all called to, the work of "being the church." I make phone calls to check on people. I work with the rest of the staff to plan worship, devotions, bible studies and all the normal things we are continuing to do during this crisis. And together we work to continue to develop new ways and new opportunities for this body of Christ to stay connected, to worship, to grow in faith, to serve one another and our community, and to keep giving our best to our mission for Christ in this community. This too is what it means to practice resurrection.
Now, more than ever, our community needs us to "be the church", the body of Christ following a resurrected savior, living resurrected lives and sharing the good news of the gospel that darkness is never the end of the story. There is hope and life and healing in Jesus Christ and that is good news!
This Sunday in worship, we will begin a new message series entitled, "Acts: Be the Church" (read Acts 4:13-22 in preparation for worship). In it, we will explore what it meant for the early followers of Jesus in the book of Acts to practice resurrection by "being the church" in witness, in community, in service, with courage, in hospitality, in prayer, and in power. We will be reminded that the church has been, and always will be, about people, following Christ out in the world, giving witness to the life-giving power of Christ to heal and make new. While we miss being able to gather as the whole body of Christ in worship, while we miss the hugs, the handshakes, the joy of being present to one another physically in worship and other activities, the essence of who we are and what we are called to do and be for Christ in the world has not changed. We simply must engage that mission in different ways. Fortunately, God is more than able to lead us in discovering those new opportunities.
So join us for worship online either on our website (www.suntreeumc.org/live) or on Facebook.com/SuntreeUMC. We will again be offering two services, the Gathering Contemporary service at 9:30 am on Facebook and a Traditional service at 11:00 am on Facebook. Both services will be available at 9:30 am on the website.
In the meantime, I encourage you to find your own ways to "practice resurrection". Celebrate each new day. Find something for which to give thanks. Find something positive and hopeful to engage in. Be light and hope for someone else. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!
Grace and Peace,