It has been quite a number of years since I
have done any traveling by myself, so the act of getting in my rental car and
heading down I-75 was a rather odd feeling. However, the trip was good, the car
ran great, had my CD books going and before long I was cruising through
Savannah and heading down Butler Street on Tybee Island. What a totally cool
place this is, tucked away along the coast of Georgia.
I knew that Bennie’s
Tavern (where the Tybee Bar Church meets) was just a couple blocks away, so I
drove by there before checking in. It’s, well, a tavern; a bar; just one of
those places you see in beach towns on the corner of busy streets. But, knowing
what it held on Sunday mornings, it was strangely compelling to me.
After checking into
my motel, I called Dedra (my college friend who lives here) and we spent the
rest of the afternoon strolling along the beach and the famous Tybee Pier
getting reacquainted. It was about this point that I remembered that the
Nicholas Sparks book, “The Last Song” was filmed here so I tried to not go into
screaming tourist mode and start pointing out all the places in the movie. However,
I was unable to resist when I recognized the Pier.
I’m totally out of
my comfort zone at this point. I’m used to nice brick churches with steeples
and happy (or at least on the surface) people dressed well coming to sing two
songs, a prayer and welcome, then one more song, an offering, a sermon and a
closing hymn and prayer, then you go home. These people that I am meeting are
truly real people who are unafraid to share their problems, their warts, and
know that without God and this unique church they are not sure where they would
be in life. And I know, as do you, that many of these people would not be accepted in our traditional-like churches.....and then where would they be?
In the early
evening, we headed to an Oyster Bar where I met, probably, one of the coolest
musicians I have ever known. Fantastic guitarist playing on the back deck; Spanish
guitar, Rolling Stones, Cream, Journey, Foreigner, Buffet, and on and on. His long hair was a’waving
in the breeze, cargo shorts and cut off shirt fraying, but…the smile. The eyes.
I could tell immediately that music was his passion, but God was his Passion.
Yep, this was Sam, the preacher of Tybee Bar Church. He welcomed me and Dedra
and would pop over at his breaks to chat. During his last break, he brought me
a special gift from his house that I’ll share about another time, but he
grabbed my hand and said a prayer over me that I’ll not forget for a long, long
time. I felt in the presence of God there on the back porch of Bernie’s.
This was my first
day on Tybee. I’m excited about what comes next.
And for today my
friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.