Dear Parish Family,
I am sure that many of you have spent more time watching the National News and the Local News, the President's Briefing and the Governor's Briefing, the Mayor, Town Manager, and Town Council's reports and are not quite sure what to believe! We are being inundated with information, opinions, and responses. There are a variety of "takes" on where all of this (regarding the Coronavirus) is going and what will be the outcome short term and long term. We have come up with new terms that we have not used before: social distancing, isolation fatigue, and one I just read about in "The Economist" magazine: "moral hazard during a pandemic" (as if we have seen this before!).
There are strong opinions about how the President, the Governor, the Mayor and Town Council should be handling the shut downs and reopenings; the quarantine, isolation, and social distancing; the tourists and recreational activities. Who is "right?” What will happen to me, to us, to our country, our world; short term and long term?
And, the emotions that accompany all of these concerns and questions: fatigue (not just a physical state; but emotionally "tired of all this;” tired of life not being easy/normal/fun); concern (for ourselves and loved ones); disappointment (no graduations, proms, parties, and even funerals deferred or cancelled); boredom (a "throw back" to middle school and high school days during the summer when students on summer break eventually ran out of "things to do"), anxiety, or even fear. I know that some of us even feel that what represents a challenge for us is constant adjustment to the changes and new information. We want "normal.”
I would like to focus on what is underneath many of the feelings that people are feeling; not for all, maybe, but for many: and, that is "fear." As much as it is on the list of what I have reflected on regarding the variety of feelings and emotions, fear is a strong driver!! Underneath the surface, or overtly, fear is rampant. And, I am not a "reactionary" with all of this; but I "hear it" in a variety of ways and reactions. I want to return to what drives so much of the above feelings and what weighs many down these days: fear.
Let me just list a few reasons why people are preoccupied with fear: fear because of the threat to our health, and/or the threat to the health of our loved ones. There is the fear of lost income, loss of a sustainable retirement due to the stock market, loss of jobs, loss of businesses, loss of life; the fear of loss is in the back or on the front of many hearts and minds. Let me add: the future, and what will happen economically in my personal life and family, in our country, and even in our world.
And, the "potential domino" that could fall if this economic stress persists: social chaos. The loss of income, the loss of provision, the loss of home, "a future,” the loss of life of someone that I love, the repercussions of anger, lawsuits, robbery, riots, or worse, could multiply in our country and/or worldwide. Again, this is "speculation" by some of the pundits, but it is a worry/concern for some.
For young people, and those who have children and grandchildren: the fear and questions about education, jobs, their future amidst what is going on with the Coronavirus and the unknown of "when this will be resolved." Loneliness has been a concern for young people who, even with all the "social media," and the "isolationism" even before this era of the Coronavirus is real. Loneliness has been a concern for many of our elderly as well. With our current life and lifestyle due to the responses, albeit appropriate, it has accentuated what was already a problem and concern.
And, finally, the "new normal"....what will it be? What will it look like? What are the long term ramifications that are here and/or coming?
I believe that we as Christians who seek to walk with and trust the Lord can be responsive to these fears in several ways:
First of all: spend daily time in prayer and in God's Word to seek Him, His presence, His perfect love (that casts out fear), His peace. And, we may need to go back to Him several times during the day! This will bless us in ways short term, and long term, in ways that we can't even imagine: a good "new normal" that is His desire for us....always!!
Secondly: reach out to other believers. God's design and desire is that we be His family, His Body on earth. We are to be connected and care for one another, to provide mutual support and encouragement.
Thirdly: reach out to our neighbors and especially those who don't know Jesus as Savior and Lord. Without a hope outside of themselves, this physical/material reality, this economic uncertainty, and especially, an uncertain eternity, their fears will be accentuated, and will provide an opportunity for you to be a witness. And, our witness can be by our peace, our love, our hope; and, how our loving and being "in community" (even with social distancing) can be real!
Finally, do not fear "the loss of corporate worship!” We will return at some point. And, it may be "different" for a while! I have been in touch with Bishop Lawrence and we will continue to follow the Governor's recommendation; which means our "gathering for worship" in our Sanctuary won't happen in the first half of May (at least!). But, we can worship individually everyday; we can be thankful everyday; and we can worship weekly with our video streaming.
"This, too, will pass." We have heard this before; and, it is true! We never know what the future holds! And, we still don't! But, we know what eternity holds because He holds us in His hands, in His heart.
And, keep praying, trusting, loving!!
With love, in Christ,
Dear Parish Family,
I continue to pray that all of you and your extended family are well and staying healthy during this unprecedented time!
We continue to "ride the roller-coaster" of "where this Coronavirus is going." Has it begun to "wind down?" Some are saying yes and some are saying no. And, is the economy "bouncing back?” Some would say yes and some would say no! Some small businesses and individuals have received their checks and some have not; and, if not, "are the checks coming?” And, "will my business survive?” Will I have a job if/when this is finished?
The Governor has just given an "Executive Order" that school will not resume in this current school year....so next school year will find some, if not many, "behind."
So many questions....mixed solutions....unclear direction. And, many on opposite sides of the fence on what we should be doing because of the balance of concern for people’s health, and yet the ability to pay their bills. It can be overwhelming! And, some are not sleeping as well; are anxious and worried; others are too carefree and are not being sensitive to others.
And yet, it has brought out the best in some people who are "going the extra mile" in caring for others, showing compassion, and even risking their own life and health to support those who are sick, maybe dying. Some have family members who are sick (whether it is the virus or not), and have needs. Our real heroes are the health care workers, first responders, and those who are working at places that need to stay open and function so that we might have our basic needs met.
I encourage you, first and foremost, that if you find yourself having extra time, pray!! Pray for those who are sick, who are caring for the sick, who are working so that we might function as a community, as a state, as a country. Pray for a vaccination, a treatment, a cure for this awful virus. Pray for those who are struggling and for those who will be. Pray for your family, friends, and those beyond your circle of those close to you. Pray for calm and peace amidst the anxiety, fear and turmoil.
Use your time as well as you can to reach out to family, friends, people that you know who are struggling physically, emotionally, economically, or in some other way. A phone call, an email, a letter...whatever you are comfortable with to communicate that you care.
I would encourage you to send the link to our worship services, www.stlukeshhi.org, so that people may find the Lord, people may grow closer to the Lord, people may be encouraged in His Spirit. Recommend our website on FaceBook, in an email, and maybe some may hear a message that they needed to hear. The Gospel, God's Holy Spirit, and God's people can touch lives through prayer and reaching out in ways that all the secular television and hopeful worldly messages cannot.
One other thought....don't let malaise set in so much that you let your spiritual, emotional, or physical health suffer. Take a walk, go for a bike ride, "social distance" or isolate with someone in a meaningful conversation. Pray with someone (on the phone!). Do a project that would make you feel a sense of accomplishment. I spoke with someone this week who moved right before all the Coronavirus impact began. He said that when he moved, he made a list of 67 projects around his new place that he wanted to do. He told me that he had 10 left to do. His wife commented that she had never seen him more productive around the house! Not all of us are that gifted, skilled, or inclined. But, take on a small project that will be a blessing to you, and to others, in the long run.
We do not know when we will return to being together in worship, in fellowship and small groups, able to go out with ease and without concern for our health and those that we "rub shoulders with." Life is not "normal" right now; and, there is a question whether we might be entering a "new normal" that we may not have grips on yet.
But, God! God is faithful; He is the source of grace, of strength, of peace, of joy, of love. We need an abundance of these gifts right now....all of us, individually, and as a community. He can be trusted with all that we are, and all that we have!
One final note: this week, our streamed worship will be a little different (if you saw last week, that was one way it could be different!). Steve Chisholm is facilitating a "Family Worship" service this Sunday. We will have every aspect of worship that we always have; just done slightly differently. It will be creative and fun (that is what I hear!).
Please stream with us this Sunday; and, as much as possible, be faithful to stay connected, involved, committed.
And, may the God of peace bring you all joy and peace in believing Him who is over all, Lord of all; and who loves us!
With love, in Christ,
Dear Parish Family,
I hope and pray that you are well, and staying healthy.
I have been praying for a number of you and trying to stay in touch with as many as I know may have needs or are isolated (though, many of us are "isolated" right now!). If you have a need or would like to talk with me, please call my cell (843) 290-7553. We have had a few from our Parish Family who have been in the hospital; but as much as I would love to visit, during this time, only "end of life" situations allow me that privilege. On Good Friday, last week, I prayed for everyone in our church directory, by name. It has been a gift to have extra time to pray; but, I would love to see all of you as well!
In the past few weeks, with my "E-Blasts," as well as with my Midweek Messages, I have encouraged you to be in prayer, as well as try to make contact with those whom you love. It has been a blessing to see answered prayer in these difficult days of the Coronavirus, social distancing, and isolation. I have encouraged you to remain hopeful, careful, and to seek to live with wisdom during these challenging days. The Lord is with us, the Lord is for us, and though we may not be aware of all that He is doing, I am sure that He is! In Romans 8:28, Paul writes that "all things working together for good for those who love God, and are called according to His purpose." I have seen the Lord do wonderful things of which I would like to share one or two with you.
You may be aware that FISH Restaurant in Coligny has been serving meals to those who are in need of a meal. J.R. and Leslie Richardson are the owners (thank you!), and I know of two others who have worked to facilitate these meals (Lee and Michael, two friends) and have been able to bless hundreds if not thousands through this meal service. Michael made me aware of a single mother of two children who has been struggling, and who had needs and did not have the means to address those needs. He asked me if St. Luke's had a "benevolence fund" (which, when one asks, I will make use of my Rector's Discretionary Fund). I did not know this woman so I decided to pray for her and pray about what I might be able to provide. At the same time, a couple from our church, part-timers from Pennsylvania, called me. They felt led to give me a financial gift to help someone in need. It turned out that what they gave, I was able to give to Michael for this woman, and it was the exact amount that she had asked Michael for to provide and address her need at the time! I was in awe of God's grace and how He worked through so many people simultaneously!
One other that I would like to share with you. A woman from our parish who lives alone needed a ride from Hilton Head to MUSC in Charleston for surgery. A couple from our church, who had volunteered to help with people in need, came to mind as I prayed. I was able to put them in touch with one another. Though the surgery has not taken place yet, they have already taken one trip to Charleston and were asked to re-schedule as the hospital changed their policy that same day....all potential surgeries required a "Coronavirus test" of the patient. So, they turned around and came home, and her surgery is re-scheduled for this week should she have a clear Coronavirus test (which we were able to schedule the next day!). The couple and this woman have become fast friends, and the Lord is using this couple not only to address her needs, but to bring her friendship during a very lonely and needy time. God is good!!
I share these with you so that you can praise God with me; so that you can see Him moving, so that you may have hope and encouragement should you be struggling; and that, whether you are on the giving end or the receiving end, you can let your needs (or desire to help) be known, and He will respond! He is a loving and faithful God. We especially remember how faithful and caring He is during this season where we remember the cross and gift of His Son Jesus, assuring us that He is Lord over sin and death, that His love for us is amazing and gracious, and that He rose again to show His power to work in us, with us, and through us!
My love and prayers are with you!
Dear Parish Family,
We continue to go through this challenging time of "isolating,” "social distancing" and not being able to gather in worship, small groups, or meetings. For some, it could be a "needed break;" but for most, it is difficult knowing how to navigate this time with all of the questions, doubts, fears, information overload, economic prognostication, and the question "when will life get back to 'normal'?"
In order to facilitate whatever we may be able to do to help you through this time, we wanted to share with you our cell phone numbers, so that our staff might be more easily accessible:
Greg Kronz, Rector: (home) 843-363-2919; (cell) 843-290-7553
Steve Chisholm, Assistant Rector: 843-540-4025
Kathie Phillips, Deacon: 843-338-6144
Sharon Smith, Counselor: 843-684-1244
Denise Gildner, Parish Secretary: 810-969-8181
Nancy Justice, Comptroller: 843-422-3530
Nina Rodman, Organist/Choirmaster: 843-422-0490
And, you can always call the office (843-785-4099) and leave a message on any one of the staff's extensions, as most of us check our messages daily. You can also find our email addresses on the website: www.stlukeshhi.org, and drop us an email.
Amidst all of this, we find ourselves in Holy Week. Someone said "I didn't realize all that I would be giving up this Lent;" and, no matter what you gave up, please don't give up seeking the Lord and learning more and more what it means to trust in Him and rest in Him. This may always be a challenge in varying degrees, but now, more than ever, in order to live with love, grace, and wisdom, we need to walk with Him even if we are "walking alone" much of the time these days!
I do want to "catch you up" on our ongoing “happenings” at St. Luke’s. You will continue to receive weekly (and maybe more if necessary) "e-blasts" so that we can continue to touch base with you. We will continue, between Steve and myself, to send out a "Midweek Message" in a video that you will find coming to you, or, on our website.
This week, not only will we be sharing both of those via email, but we will also be live-streaming the "Good Friday Liturgy" this Friday at noon. Nina suggested that Matt Walley sing for that service as well, so the service will begin with Matt singing. The total time will be a little more than a half hour; so, if you can spare the time midday, this would be a wonderful way to reflect on the gift of our Savior as He hung on the cross for us; out of love for us! Also, we are continuing "The Watch" as an annual opportunity during Holy Week. The Watch is a prayer vigil where you spend an hour in prayer at some point between Maundy Thursday evening until Good Friday morning. You can sign-up through our website, through the e-Zine, or through Kathie Phillips (phone number listed above).
And, of course, this Sunday is Easter; and we will be live-streaming our service with the last of my Sermon Series: "Seven Last Words of Jesus" from the cross.
The sermons are available on the website or on YouTube video: either the full worship service, including the sermon; or, Scripture readings and sermon only. The archives of sermons on the website have all the sermons for the last couple of years, especially if you would like to hear all of the "Seven Last Words" sermons. Also, you can stream from FaceBook the same day or following day for the service. It is amazing how the Lord has opened a new avenue of ministry for St. Luke's by our messages and streaming, throughout the country and even in other countries!! How the Lord uses "all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes." Please pray that our Lord would bless His people, and bring people to Himself through this new ministry!
I have had people ask me how to pray for those in need: there is a "Prayer list" in the bulletin, which you can access from our e-Zine. Also, others are asking how to drop off a note, a check, or other items. At this point, if it is larger than a letter, please call the office and arrange for someone to bring the package inside, and we will see that it gets to whoever needs to receive it! We will be putting up a lockable "dropbox" in the near future and will let you know where it is located. Please don't put anything in our mailbox; too accessible, and against the postal service laws.
We will be observing the same "rules/laws" as the Governor establishes as "Executive Orders;" but also, just to be safe, we will be keeping social distance for your sake and the sake of the staff. Therefore, with the access we are providing, we have decided that we will no longer have regular office hours beginning this Wednesday at noon until April 30th (for now; unless the date changes by the Governor). We hope and pray that this does not inconvenience anyone; but we feel that it is the safest and most responsible response for now. This is what is safest, healthiest, and wisest for all concerned.
We will try to stay in touch and be responsive as much as possible without inundating you with too much, as most of us have more information coming at us than we can manage.
I continue to pray for you daily, and ask you to pray for me; how to lead and do ministry in this unprecedented time in our lives!
Have a blessed Holy Week and Easter, and may our Lord bless and keep you in His love, in His grace, and in His peace. He is Risen and has our future in His hands!
With love, in Christ,
Dear Parish Family,
I continue to pray for our congregation, our Lowcountry home, our State and National government, and even the state of the world during this difficult time. I usually spend 45 minutes to an hour with the Lord in the morning. This morning, I ended up spending about an hour-and-a-half! Two reasons: I woke up earlier today (Wednesday) than usual. Secondly, I have "more on my plate" to pray for than usual!
For example, for the last several days I have wrestled with whether or not to cancel my June trip to Tanzania where I was scheduled to speak at three Clergy Conferences; a difficult decision. The more I thought and prayed about it, the more I was convinced that it was the right decision to cancel! It was confirmed later this morning after I had already written my travel agency to postpone my trip. I got an email from one of the Tanzanian Bishops saying he would understand if I felt the need to postpone! Then, I read an article in the Economist (hopefully, by now you have received an e-blast video from me and Steve where I read part of the article).
The Lord does lead! He is faithful! And, as much as we go through questions and challenges, He will answer! However, His answer is not always what we want!
I have been phoning some of our church members who own restaurants, small businesses, contract workers of various kinds who cannot, for example, take people out on fishing charters! I feel for them and I am praying for them. Not what they want right now!
But, we can support and encourage each other; we can pray for each other; we can show compassion and care. We can support the local restaurants by ordering take-out or delivery as a way of caring. A phone call, a text, a letter, even an email!
We are trying our best to care for all of our members here at St. Luke's; staying "in touch" without inundation is my thought: streaming Sunday worship; the e-Zine, an occasional e-blast; a video message. We are trying! I know churches that send out a message a day! I don't want to "fill" your inbox! I am getting inundated with emails in various forms that are "helping" during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Some are helpful; others??
Next week is Holy Week. As a "compromise" to our usual daily service, the Maundy Thursday service, the Good Friday liturgy, and the "Seven Last Words of Jesus on the Cross" service which will not be taking place; I am going to give a "Mid-week Message" that will address, among other thoughts, Maundy Thursday. At Noon on Good Friday we are going to "Live Stream" the Good Friday Liturgy with a brief homily (shorter sermon than usual!).
If we can meet your needs in other ways, please let me or one of the staff know! We are trying to figure out what is best for most, if not all.
May you have a blessed Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter!!
With love, in Christ,