Pastor's E-Letter 8/21/20
Greetings, Suntree! I am Staci Plonsky, your new Director of Outreach! My husband Terry, and I, along with our three children, have participated in the life of Suntree UMC community for many years. I became a certified candidate for ministry in the Florida United Methodist Conference in 2019, and began seminary at Iliff School of Theology, using their online learning platform. Additionally, Suntree UMC serves as my pastoral internship site for this year.
This new role represents so many of my hopes and dreams for where I sense God is calling me. Sometimes, it feels like a dream! As I’ve begun to envision how God may propel us as a faith community into new expressions of loving our neighbor in extraordinary ways, I began to think about the kingdom of God.
Sometimes, we think of heaven as a literal place: the City of God, with streets of gold and sparkling buildings, a location far removed from my own home, nation and world. When I think of Heaven in the distance, both physically and temporally, I can dream of a “someday.” I can imagine that “someday”, all will be beautiful and perfect and redeemed. That my own identity and character will be perfected and revealed in beauty, in the absence of conflict and evil. Fear will be absent, poverty abolished, evil vanquished.
This is such a beautiful vision, isn’t it?
And yet, when Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, this isn’t exactly the picture he painted. In fact, Jesus began His ministry proclaiming, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." In other words — it is now here! Jesus’ teachings and life give us clues about how to live faithfully in the Kingdom of God. We learn from Jesus the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37-39 “. . .You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind . . . and the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Living in the Kingdom of God is more than just thinking about God or donating our time or money. Living in the Kingdom of God is building community with our neighbors, sharing our groceries, bearing witness to another’s pain and challenges, and building each other up through our faith. As we share our own gifts and abilities, we also gain insight about justice, compassion, faith, resilience, grace, generosity and abundance. We start to see a richness in others that we may have missed otherwise.
I think that’s why I love Outreach so much. Diversity energizes me, as I am reminded that God’s deep love is not reserved just for me, but all of the beautiful souls in this world. I am reminded that Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection was intended for the benefit of all creation. People who are generous and open, and committed to making the world a better place inspire me to do the same. And I find that through serving God’s beloved people, I find the Holy Spirit works powerfully to change me, to bring me a little closer to the God-given sanctification I long for.
God has called each of us to use our talents, abilities and gifts in unique ways. I think the fullest response to God’s love is to love our neighbors. As we faithfully respond to God’s love for us and for our neighbors, I believe we will move closer to realizing the Kingdom of God here and now.
If you’d like to explore how to become involved with the myriad of Outreach projects and opportunities, please email me at . I’d love to get to know you and to serve with you!