"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lent Day 24 - Friday

Tybee Island Church….a home for my heart

“There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God.
 A place where all is joy and peace, near to the heart of God.”
 (Hymn ~ Cleland McAfee)

  By the time most of you are reading this on Friday, I will be on the way to Tybee Island. If you have paid any attention to my life over the past couple of years, you know that I go down there every so often to speak and play at the Tybee Church. It is my niche. It is my people. It is my ministry. I am proud to be a Staff Minister of the church and to paraphrase the Apostle Paul….I am blessed by just thinking about the people of the church and of the island.

  It has been 3½ months since I was there and it is time to go back and be a part of the wonderful little Island of Misfit Toys (but I had to promise my family that I would not get another piercing or tattoo on this trip). As my friend and resident Tybee Island ministerial curmudgeon and erstwhile prophet, Micheal Elliott, says, “Tybee Island is for those who are running to something or running from something.” That is so true. I run there because I feel a kinship and fellowship with the community of wildly artsy, creative and slightly demented (in a good way) people. I also run there because they are a forgiving people. For some reason, the church people like to hear what I have to say and keep me encouraged by their prayers and by their words. No matter how much how much I stutter and stammer and prattle on and on, they still give me a hug and ask me when I’m coming back. After being on the island for a short time and being among the friends and residents of the island, I begin to relax and become “Jimmy” once again. The “Jimmy” I haven’t been in a long time. They expect no pretenses, no fronts, nothing other than being just who I am. And they will let you be YOU….and like you because of it. The more quirks, the better.

  And, perhaps, I am running from the traditions and trappings of modern contemporary religion. For a church that meets in a bar, where I can preach in my ratty cargo shorts and flip-flops, the worship of God is taken more seriously than many places where budgets, programs, staffing and décor is the top priority. Their ministry is simple. We worship on Sundays and minister during the week. Food to the hungry, clothes and housing for the needy, nurture for the nursing homes and the elderly, comfort and encouragement to the down and out. There is no official church membership roll and no paid staff positions, and yet, the people give what they can. The money comes in and goes back out to the island community needs. All in the love of God and the love of others. It is the type of church that I envision back in the early days that met wherever was available and spread the love of God throughout the area. Pure and simple Love.

  Tybee Island and the Tybee Church is the perfect place for me to escape to during my journey through Lent. A place that I can relax and focus more on what God wants me to be doing and where God wants me to be. A home for my heart. We all need a place to go where we can draw near to the heart of God. A place where we can be ourselves, be accepted as we are and find God. Where is your home for your heart?

  And for today my friends, this is the gospel according to Jimmy. Blessed be the Name of the LORD!


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