Dear Parish Family,
In many ways, it was a wonderful week; and, in some ways, not so much!
The life each of us lives is full of ups and downs; sometimes within the same day; sometimes, in a week, a month or a year. I had heard people say: "I sure hope that as we enter 2020, that it is better than 2019!" (or, fill in the blank! It could be said of a month or a year!).
Last week, we were dealing with the challenges of the Coronavirus, mixed reviews on the economy and unemployment, racial tensions running high, challenges to having various police forces funded or not, tension/dysfunction in our government, and we could probably list others in the world, or our own personal world!
But last week was wonderful in two ways for our Island and our Church: first, The Heritage Golf Tournament was a huge success! With the five best golfers in the world competing here (best field ever) along with predominantly great weather (a couple of rain delays....but the tournament didn't need to go into Monday!). The course, "touched up" in a few ways allowed for very low scores and exciting golf, and our Island looked great in many ways! This is probably why tourism is flourishing and Harbourtown had 240 rounds of golf reservations on Tuesday (first day after the tournament ended....unfortunately, I was not one of the 240).
Secondly, Judge Dickson ruled in favor of the Anglican Diocese and each individual parish, that we retain the property! To give you a little further explanation: In the late 1970's, the National Convention of the Episcoal Church approved what has been called "The Dennis Canon." It states, in effect, that the National Church had a "trust interest" in all of the properties and real assets of the individual Churches. It has been challenged through the years because, although the National Convention voted to approve it, the new Canon was never ratified by the various Dioceses and Churches throughout the country. I could go into a further explanation, but suffice it to say that this Canon, without ratification, has caused many churches throughout the country to forfeit their properties when they left the Episcopal Church and joined the Anglican Church of North America. This decision by Judge Dickson has called the "Trust" null and void; which means that The National Episcopal Church (TEC) does not own our property. This is wonderful news!! Our lawyer is very optimistic about the future.
This could proceed in one of three directions: 1) The Episcopal Church could accept the decision and not attempt to appeal to the South Carolina Supreme Court; 2) The Supreme Court of South Carolina could refuse to hear the case; or, 3) The appeal by TEC will be taken up by the Supreme Court of South Carolina. We are praying for one of the first two; but, even if the third scenario is the case, we are in a very good position. This is cause for rejoicing!
This process began for St. Luke's when the National Church took a step away from Scripture in 2003, and I, along with our Vestry, took a strong stand against the decision. In 2009, we changed the name of our church from St. Luke's Episcopal Church to St. Luke's Church, and it was ratified by over 99% of our parish in a vote in two consecutive Parish Annual Meetings. And, finally, our Diocese was forced to leave TEC and eventually joined ACNA (moving from The Episcopal Church to the Anglican Church of North America). It has been a long road with many challenges. We are not quite there, but very close. It has been a wonderful week!!
Let me encourage you to rejoice! Let me encourage you to pray! And, let me encourage you to keep invested in the ministry of St. Luke's through your prayer, your ministry, and your giving as we continue to ride the roller coaster of life in our Parish, Diocese, Community, Country, and World. May our Lord fill you with His joy and peace!!!
With love, in Christ,
Dear Parish Family,
Amidst all of the turmoil going on around us both here on the Island and in our country, Hilton Head Island finds itself hosting the Heritage Golf Tournament!
However, it is not "business as usual!” In some ways, the Island is full of tourists as it usually is during this time. Sea Pines has an abundance of visitors, many of whom are renting properties on and around Harbourtown Golf Links, hoping to watch some of the tournament and maybe get a glimpse or even speak with one of the professional golfers. And, amazingly, the Tournament is hosting the top five players ranked by the golf world right now; which is unprecedented for our tournament. This year, we are not hosting the tournament on the heels of the Masters. In fact, last week was the first week that players returned to the Tour. Many are eager to play in tournaments again and get their game “tuned” to be prepared for the Major tournaments coming later this year.
Unusually, there will be no spectators on the grounds of the golf course: no grandstands, no vendors; and only those required to run a tournament and broadcast a tournament will be allowed on the grounds. Strange days! And, yet, amidst this challenge, the tournament has returned, and most of us count it a blessing. Yes, we still need to be careful; we need to "social distance," and we need to avoid close contact with visitors especially, because there seems to be a resurgence. But, the tournament, albeit not "as usual" will take place, bringing publicity and revenue to the Island during a difficult time.
A second chance, yes; but not business as usual. The Gospel: a second chance because of the gift of Jesus on the cross. A second chance because we "failed" the first time, through our sin, and we were "dead in our sins" (see Romans 3). We needed a Savior who has taken upon Himself our iniquities, our failures, our sickness, our sin (see Isaiah 52:13-53:12). And then, resurrection from the dead, bringing new life with no longer "business as usual;" a change. We are changed, inside and out. We are healed from the pain, consequences, and penalty of our sin. We are given new life and need to "social distance" from our sin by the Holy Spirit working in us. And, God wants to bring out our best, in ways that have never happened before! Not necessarily the way we want it, but it is good; we are good; not because of our self, our own strength, but because of the gift.
As you enjoy the Heritage this week….probably on TV, remember the gift of “the second chance.” The second chance is not because we have earned it, but because it was given to us through Jesus. The second chance was given to the players and to our Island by the PGA Tour officials; and in the case of salvation, we have been given a second chance through Jesus Christ and His work on the Cross: new life and eternal life, and the fruit that we bear by the Holy Spirit working in us. And, because of our second chance in Jesus, we are blessed, and we bless others! Just like the Heritage will "bless many" this week!
Enjoy the Heritage!
With love, in Christ,
Dear Parish Family,
I have had a number of conversations in the last week or two since George Floyd's death about the state of our country and the various responses that we have seen in the news, the newspaper, and from friends and neighbors. There is no question that this is a difficult time; and no easy answers, with questions surrounding the Coronavirus, the economy, the protests; and beyond the protests, the riots and looting.
I believe that what happened to George Floyd was unjust and cruel. Police are important to our country; and most are not only upstanding, but are true servants of both our country's people and the laws. Most seek to keep peace and help others in a variety of ways; and, at times, they face persecution and even violence themselves. But, what happened to George Floyd needs to be addressed with justice, and possibly, with some needed reforms. But, abolishing police departments would result in chaos, even more than we are seeing now; if not anarchy.
Not everyone is seeking to be a "good citizen" and that exists on both sides of the law. Reform is sometimes necessary, and people need to speak out to address injustice, abuse, prejudice and racism, and all the challenges of living in an imperfect world with imperfect people (including each of us!).
But protests are not enough. And, the Christian community can be a source of healing when we model what our society needs: true love, friendship, humility, morality, integrity, and compassion. People can appreciate each other, appreciate differences, appreciate that there are "no two people alike" and seek to love one another, both because of and in spite of differences. That is the call on our lives. Learning to build community across racial differences shouldn't just be at times of protest, but always. And, when people use excuses, justification, and rationalization to express themselves with violence or abuse, there will be more strife and a further divide. The combination of the Coronavirus and the ill effects on the economy, along with the death of George Floyd has propelled some to very helpful and necessary responses; but there is the other side where anger or fear have taken over, with resulting division and even violence.
Paul writes: “live peaceably with all as much as it depends on you.” This is only one of the recommendations by Paul in Romans 12 that directs us how to treat, even love, one another (see Romans 12:9-21). We need to be peacemakers all the time (Matthew 5:9), but especially now.
Learning to deal with our own fears and anger in a helpful way, even with a godly response, will help us to bring peace in a time of discord; learning to love one another and even "bear with one another."
Paul also writes that "there is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; there is neither male nor female, but we are all one in Christ" (Galatians 3: 28). Believers have the great gift and privilege of modeling community for the world: learning how to appreciate our differences; appreciate that none of us have the same background, same family, same personality traits, or same experiences that have helped to shape us and mold us. In Christ, we choose to love one another as He loves us; and we seek the Holy Spirit to help and empower us for the times when we are dealing with people who are a challenge for us. Unity in Christ does not mean that we are all the same, but rather, the differences become less important in light of the cross and resurrection of Jesus. We must learn to treat all with His love; and respect one another, because Jesus died for all and we have the dignity of being His, a child of the Father, one whom Jesus died for!
The recent cry that "black lives matter" is true. Because God created all and loves all, one cannot be selective about who to love and who to treat with dignity. Black lives matter because all lives matter. And Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10); and, that abundant life is offered to all through Jesus, just as all human life was a gift from the Father. Christians, more than anyone, should realize this. Our response is to be Jesus and to bring Jesus to all; and, it begins with self-sacrificial love; with serving others; with reaching out and valuing everyone. Will we reach everyone? Jesus didn't; He was persecuted, and eventually killed, even though He loved all and He is love!
That is why, especially now with our society on edge, when feelings are raw, with fear and anger constantly around us, this will not be easy; but, it is critical. Not everyone's response will be the same; but the response of those who are followers of Jesus needs to be in step with the Holy Spirit.
I invite you to pray about what this means to you and for you during this challenging time in our history. Let's seek to be the church, loving each other; modeling community to the world around us; and, reaching out in love with the gospel of Jesus.
With love, in Christ,
Dear Parish Family,
We live in such a volatile day, in a volatile country, in a volatile world.
The Coronavirus put the world on edge, where people were pulling together, concerned for each other and serving each other. Crime was down; and, in spite of a 20% unemployment guestimate, there was optimism as the Stock Market was rebounding.
And, now; just a few months later, there is more unrest in the world, domestic violence, looting, vandalism, threats and even destruction to life and property.
What “lit the fuse?” The death of George Floyd; a policeman overstepping a boundary of restraining someone and causing his death….one policeman. We don't know all the reasons, but the ensuing anger, rage, and violence is now widespread. With some, it began as peaceful protests. Some took advantage of the unrest and protests, and fueled a delicate situation and unleashed anger that resulted in violence.
I believe that people were already on edge due to the Coronavirus and the accompanying fear and uncertainty. The death of George Floyd removed the cork from the bottle, and exploded into not just peaceful protests, but violence, fueling further the fear and anger. This includes some who have taken advantage by looting....stealing, which has nothing to do with a wrongful death, but greed. Randomly destroying property has affected people, lives and businesses. Fear, which does not begin with or lead to a "fear of God" (Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10, Ps. 19:9) does not lead to the wisdom or awe that would allow God's Holy Spirit to move in helpful ways to rebuilding communities, following His will in constructive ways. The resultant anger, which does not work the righteousness of God (James 1:20), but rather is destructive and results in more brokenness, is “human anger” apart from God's Holy Spirit of wisdom, discernment, compassion, and true justice.
Our country has so many blessings; so many people who truly care and are concerned and serving generously, selflessly. There are "public servants" in the ranks of the First Responders and Health Care Workers who are risking their lives on a daily basis for our sake. And, at the same time....we’ve got rampant fear, uncontrolled anger, greed that resorts to destruction of property and businesses, looting, in the name of "protest." Peaceful protests, however, are helpful; as modeled by Martin Luther King, Jr. and his followers.
We can make a difference! We may or may not be involved in the protests, but we can PRAY. We may not be able to control others, but we can bear the Fruit of the Spirit which includes Love, Peace and Patience, as well as Self Control. We can model the handling of our own fear and anger for those around us, as well as our family and our community by seeking God's will and way through His Word, and allowing the Holy Spirit to direct and empower us to live according to His will beyond our ability.
I invite you to be a Prayer Warrior for the sake of our community and country. I invite you to pray and open your mind, heart, and life to the work of the Holy Spirit. I invite you to open your Bible and open your heart to the Lord so that you might learn of His ways, especially today, in dealing with fear and anger.
Let us be "salt" and "light" in a world that desperately needs to be preserved, to be "flavored" with His grace, and to come out of the darkness into His Light.
May our Lord bless us, keep us, and use us as His Church at St. Luke's.
With love, in Christ,