Dear Parish Family,
I hope and pray that you have had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend! It certainly was not the same as in years past with large crowds gathering for Memorial Day celebrations. Last year, we spent Memorial Day weekend with our daughter Bethany and her family in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. They had a wonderful parade, especially for a small town with flyovers by vintage WWII planes and a variety of floats and bands. This year, they told us, the streets were silent.
This year, Meredith and I went to visit our son, Daniel and his family in Destin, Florida. We left on Thursday and returned Monday (which happened to be Meredith's birthday!), and the only minor glitch in the trip was a "check point" for the Coronavirus at the Florida border. I have to say that it was very well done and only took us about five or ten minutes to go through (since South Carolina wasn't on the "watch state" list!). The roads were not crowded as we breezed to Destin in about eight hours. We took precautions along the way, using gloves and masks when we stopped....the main reason being to not contract the virus so that we might not infect Daniel or his family (they are moving to Philadelphia on July 1st and could not afford a delay); and, to guard against being a "carrier" when we returned to Hilton Head. Again, no problems! And, our time with Daniel, his wife, Natalie, and our grandson Simon was just a joy!
We also had the gift of being able to watch the St. Luke's worship service on Sunday morning, which I know many of you are streaming and participating virtually in worship. It was a blessing to share together! Every time the Music Team began to play, our grandson would break out in dance! So free, so joy-filled; it made us smile. Steve did a great job (and, for those of you that may have any questions, we did not go to Louisiana nor did we help Daniel pack...the Army is going to pack and move Daniel and his family).
The joy of being with family! Not everyone has that gift, either because of strained relationships or because of restrictions in travel because of the Coronavirus, including the challenges of flying or driving into “closed states.” A different time for sure! I continue to pray for those who are struggling during this time of continuing social distancing; and for some, isolating. I am also praying for those who have health challenges and compromised immune systems.
Paul, in his letter to the Philipians wrote that he had learned how to be "content in plenty and in want.” This is a great goal for us to have during this time! As I have been calling many people in our church family, friends, and family, I am actually surprised how well many are faring. Some have said that they find this time a blessing; especially if they are introverts, have had projects around the house that they needed to catch up on, gardening, or little "fix it" jobs. For others, they are doing well even though what is going on would not be their choice! And, still others, struggling with the restrictions, the social distancing, and especially, those who have had economic or health challenges, this has been a real challenging time. Plenty and want; both are evident to me as I talk with people.
An old adage, "the only constant is change;” and, as I have said often (not original with me), the only person that likes change is a baby with a dirty diaper. Some people adapt to change well; others, not so well; and, still others, really struggle. Especially when the change brings hardship, the change can be unwelcome and cause us to become angry or fearful because we did not choose the change going on around us, or even in us. Plenty and want. How to cope with this?
In the context that Paul writes, the chapter in Philipians contains phrases like "Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made to the Lord.” Prayer; a key in coping. Prayer and worship; vital to our spiritual, mental, emotional, and even physical health. "And the peace of Christ that passes all understanding...." (read Philippians 4). There it is: that elusive peace. Especially in times like this...unprecedented, uncontrollable, uncomfortable, unwelcome. Times like this...we did not cause and did not choose. His peace, that passes understanding. Just as we don't understand all that is going on around this Coronavirus, which is the down side; we have the opportunity to rely on God's gift of the Holy Spirit that brings peace beyond our understanding. We can't willfully make this happen; but the Holy Spirit can, and will, as we keep our hearts and minds fixed on Him! He is greater than any virus, health issue, economic concern, or struggle that we may face. His is greater than any emotional weakness and shortfall; He is greater than any circumstance, person, or "thing" that might be out there to threaten our joy and security. Because of our faith in Jesus, our trust in His grace, and the gift of His Holy Spirit, we can know this peace because He has us, and this world, this time, this circumstance is not the end of it all: He is; and sharing eternity with Him!
If you are in a "good place" right now, praise and thank our Lord Jesus and pray about how the Lord might use you to be a blessing to others. You are better off than most in the world. If you are struggling right now, turn to Him, reach out to others to talk with, pray with, rely on in order to lift you up. We are not "in this" alone. He loves you, and is there for you; He will strengthen your weak arms, your weak heart, your weak resolve to help you and use others in the process.
I have been in a small group with Meredith and some precious friends during this time (a ZOOM small group) and the line that has been recurring because the study is on the book of Esther, is "for such a time as this.” For such a time as this, pray, read His Word, reach out to others, and seek and find His peace that passes understanding. Especially as we "re-open" and enter a new time of uncertainty, as Jesus preached in His first sermon: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things will be yours as well".
With love, in Christ,