Dear Parish Family,
This past week many of us were watching, or even watching for, Isaias to come to the Lowcountry. As I watched the Weather Channel this morning, I saw Meteorologist, Jim Cantore standing, and at times, kneeling in the face of the force of the wind and rain!
When it was headed toward Florida, we all wondered “Would it be a Tropical Storm or a Hurricane? Would we, along with many others along the Eastern Coast, need to evacuate (or, at least get ready to evacuate) just in case?” Especially as we watched as it bounced up the coast of Florida! And, trying to make a decision whether or not to evacuate, where to evacuate in the midst of a pandemic (as the news often pointed out when mentioning the storm). We were all wondering what would happen.
I personally was looking forward to the wind and the rain (not necessarily a hurricane, but a tropical storm that would "refresh and renew" the Island and Lowcountry, where many of us wanted the rain....at least as long as it wasn't on "golf day!"....Thursday for me). In fact, I came home from the office early and parked myself on our back screened-in porch and wrote while I was anticipating the storm. We had a friend from my childhood days call and ask about the storm, and wanted us to "keep and eye on" his place in Port Royal if the storm were to hit. As I worked on a sermon and drank my coffee, very little rain fell (an inch or less) and there was very little wind. A "non-event" in most ways....at least for us!
Weather is sometimes somewhat predictable; sometimes it surprises us: as when Hurricane Matthew "wobbled" and the eye passed over Hilton Head Island: Surprise!
If we are honest, we can't predict much of what happens to us, day by day, week by week. Whether it be weather, or health, or children coming to visit, or family or friends calling because of good news, bad news, or a prayer request. We never know!
When Jesus talked about "the Second Coming" and "Judgement Day," He told His apostles and disciples not to worry, but "always be prepared" and "always be alert." We are cautioned about Satan prowling around like a lion....which, if you have seen lions on the prowl (or, a heron or egret "fishing"), the prey never knows; and, if they let their guard down.....oh my! Jesus goes as far as to say, in His first sermon, to never be anxious!
When we keep "the main thing the main thing," a catchy phrase that I heard back in the 1970's, we can be prepared for whatever comes! And, what is the "main thing?" It is our relationship with our Lord Jesus: to stay close to Him, cultivating and growing in that love relationship and learning more and more to trust Him. He promised as He was about to ascend to heaven that "He would be with us always;" which he said in the presence and within earshot of His believers. We are told that even at that time, seeing the Risen Lord Jesus, that "some doubted!" Even when we are with Him, when the unexpected comes, we can have doubts!
In just a few days, Pentecost would come; the promise of the Holy Spirit; the One who was "just like" Jesus, as He promised in the Upper Room, to be with believers always. We can know His presence, His love, His assurance, His strength, His power, His peace, today and always! How?
Stay close to Him, by daily reading and studying His Word....seeking Him, knowing Him; praying daily for strength and power, for those we love to be filled with His Holy Spirit, His grace, and His love. The Holy Spirit: the "allos paracletos" in the Greek: another Counselor, Comforter, Helper, Advocate! Wonderful terms for Who Jesus is, and the One whom He would send to be His presence with us: the Holy Spirit, who is for us, with us, in us!
Who knows what today holds, or tomorrow, or next week, or a month from now (about the time of year when both Hurricane Matthew hit the Island and Hurricane Irma brushed the island)? Who knows when life might return to “near normal" or "normal" or even a "new normal?" But we are told that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8); in the same chapter where we are told that Jesus promised that He "will never leave us or forsake us" (Hebrews 13:5); as well as the wonderful blessing often used at Committals: "Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do His will; working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen!" (Hebrews 13:20, 21). Pray this blessing, for peace, for knowing the Good Shepherd, for being complete, to allow His Spirit to work His will in you, for His glory!
May He bless and keep you in His Peace, whatever tomorrow brings!
With love, in Christ,