e-letter 5/17/19

May is the season of celebrations and transitions. Over the last few weeks I’ve been talking with parents of young children who are trying to survive what a recent, silly Facebook video calls “Maycember” meaning all the crazy busyness of December without the pretty Christmas lights! There are end-of-school parties, concerts and award ceremonies. There are sports banquets and music recitals. There were Mother’s Day Teas and end-of-year field trips. It’s enough to make parents dizzy and exhausted. It’s fun and good but it’s “A LOT”. I remember those days well.


It’s also graduation season. Preschoolers graduate to elementary school. High schoolers graduate and either head off to college or out into the world of work. College students graduate. Last Saturday I attended my niece’s college graduation. Like her parents, I was so filled with joy and pride for her that I wept as she walked across the stage.


Many of these celebrations represent transitions; an end of one thing and the beginning of something new. Transitions are exciting and filled with opportunity. But they are also scary and hard. It’s the ending part that brings tears to our eyes as we watch our children or loved ones leave one stage of life in order to move into another stage. It’s the ending that invites us to reflect on the past and all it has meant, to want to savor the last moments of the current stage. It’s the ending that makes us want to freeze frame the moment and hold it forever in our memories.


But it’s the “something new” that calls us to let go and move on, even when the letting go involves our children. Life wouldn’t be life, rich and full and wonderful if there wasn’t always a “something new” to be experienced, discovered, enjoyed, navigated. No matter where we are in the journey, God is always presenting opportunities to discover, to move on, to enjoy something new. Sometimes the something can involve a hard decision. The key is being willing to be open to the new things that God is calling us to in every season of our lives, even when it means shedding a few tears over an ending first.


This weekend we have the opportunity to celebrate the “something new” that is unfolding for two beloved, former pastors of Suntree UMC. Tonight at 6:30pm in the Dining Room, Rev. John Hill will join us for dessert, fellowship and sharing. John will retire, after 39 years, from full-time ministry in the Florida Conference this June at Annual Conference. John has had an amazing ministry in churches throughout Florida. Of course, you know him best from his amazing and fruitful 12 years of ministry as Co-Senior Pastor with his wife Terri here at Suntree. We are so excited to be able to spend some time with John to celebrate his ministry and to hear him share some of his reflections as he moves into this new season of life.


Then Sunday morning, we will welcome Rev. Gary Spencer back to the pulpit in all three Traditional services. Gary served Suntree UMC for 10 years (right before John and Terri), and was instrumental in moving Suntree onto this property and overseeing the building of many of the buildings on this property. Gary too is retiring at Annual Conference in June after 43 years of faithful and fruitful service throughout the conference. There will be a reception honoring Gary’s retirement from 10:30-11am in the Dining Room.


Both men have left an indelible mark on this church and on more people than can be counted in churches all over Florida. I’m personally grateful for their ministries and their friendship since the mid 1990’s. Knowing both of them, while their “retirements” are endings of sorts, they also represent the beginning of a new chapter where God will no doubt continue to use them in ways that continue to bless others.


So, join us if you can as we celebrate John and Gary. If you can’t come Friday or Sunday but want to express your best wishes to them, you can drop a card off in the Church Office and we will pass it on to them. 


Gary (in Traditional) and I (in the Gathering) will continue in our message series with “Jesus Is…Disturber of the Peace” which will focus on Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:34-39. It’s a fitting topic as we continue through this season of transitions and celebrations because there is nothing like a little transition to disturb our peace and upset our applecart. Together, we will think about what it means to embrace Jesus as a “disrupter” in our lives and in our world.


And one last word to all you parents with young children: “Hang in there. Maycember doesn’t last forever!”

Grace and Peace,