e-letter 1/18/19

Dear Friends,

Family. Just say the word and it conjures up all kinds of images, some of them good, some of them bad. Over years, we have seen all kinds of different images of family portrayed on the silver screen and on TV. There were the Cleavers of “Leave it to Beaver”. They seemed to portray the perfect family of the 1950’s – dad at work, mom at home cleaning the house and cooking in her high heels and pearls. I grew up watching Leave it to Beaver reruns after school and I must admit, June always bothered me. I never had any intention of being like her when I grew up. (I got my wish on that!)

Then there was The Brady Bunch, one of the first blended families on TV. The problem was that they made it seem way too easy! Then there was Different Strokes, one of the first multi-racial families on television. Later, shows like Friends and Seinfeld reflected the fact that a growing number of folks today find family within in an extended network of with fellow singles and marrieds. Today, we have Modern Family, and This is Us which again, portray the changing shape, nature and complexity of family life.

All these portrayals of family illustrate the reality that families really do come in all shapes and sizes. And honestly, this is not really anything new. Read through the book of Genesis and you will see all kinds of family systems, in all their complexity: the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. Take a look at Abraham, Sarah and Hagar and read on from there and you will quickly see that the Bible has never had a singular, narrow view of the reality and shape of family life. Anything involving human beings is never going to be as simple as the Cleaver family made it out to be.

Jesus himself was clear that while family matters, our primary relationships are defined not by blood, but by our relationship with God and to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. This week in worship we will be looking at the way that Jesus reimagines family relationships through the lens of the Kingdom and will of God in Mark 3:31-35. We will also be thinking about the invitation Paul gives us in Galatians, calling us to freedom and in that freedom, “through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14)

Jesus defines family as whoever does the will of God. And we fulfill the will of God when we love one, serve one another, look after one another, honor, respect, and build one another up, in all our relationships whether in our family of origin or within the larger family of God.


We will also remember and celebrate the unique place that single people hold in our families and in the family of God. We all began life as singles and singleness is a fruitful, valuable life stage on its own and not just a stop along the way to marriage. The sad truth is that too often, single people and their unique gifts and needs have been overlooked in churches. Fortunately, Suntree has a rich history of being in ministry to and with single adults. We are a richer community because of the unique gifts and experiences that single people share in this body of Christ.


In the end, God longs for all of us to live in a network of supportive, loving, life giving relationships that reflect the servant love of Christ, no matter the shape of those relationships. We honor God and we honor one another, and we become all that God intends for us to be when we seek to live into God’s will for our lives and love others as God loves us. It’s not easy. Relationships are messy and complicated. But they are the soil out of which love, and grace and beauty grow, out of which our souls can be fashioned into the likeness of Jesus. I pray you will join us in worship this week as we continue to till the soil and discover the beauty that is found in our own “This is Us” family at Suntree.


Grace and Peace,



PS – A special opportunity to support our neighbors in need! As you have heard on the news, Coast Guard men and women are not being paid. This is especially hard on the young men and women with families. Winnie and Ernie Allen will be going to the CG Station at Port Canaveral Tuesday AM with donations of baby items and food. Anyone wanting to donate to help these young men and women can bring items on Sunday. There will be containers for collection at the main entrances to the Sanctuary and the worship center. Monetary donations can be made to SUMC, noting Coast Guard Support. These funds will be used to buy food items at the commissary at Patrick AFB and delivered to the Coast Guard Station. THANK YOU for your support of these men and women.