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

Monday, December 01, 2014

Celebrating Life

  It has never been a secret about how much I enjoy going to Tybee Island. The artsy, creative, friendly and quirky culture there appeals to me like no other place. People ask me what there is about the island that keeps drawing me back and I quickly answer, “The people.”  Through the years, I have been to Savannah and to Tybee for a visit often, but it was as a tourist and a visitor, but now I have gotten to know the people who live there and make the Island their home….and I think they are beginning to accept me as one of them.

  Of course, you will recall that about three years ago, I began going to the Tybee Church, the Church that meets in a bar. Many people here at home, had a serious problem with that, but as I always stated to them, “you need to go experience it, be a part of the worship and the people. It isn’t as much what they do in their service, but what they do between the services in feeding, clothing, sheltering and taking care of their friends and neighbors. Many traditional churches here could take lessons in their social and community ministries.”

  This time I am going for a different reason, however. Oh, I will still be at Church on Sunday morning, but after the services…down on the beach, I will be part of a Celebration of Life service for a young man whose parents have become close friends to me. He passed away very suddenly recently in another state and, due to health concerns, his parents were unable to attend the funeral services and they wanted (and needed) to have a time to celebrate his life with their friends and family on Tybee, Wilmington Island and Savannah. So, what better place for a Celebration than at the beach, on a wonderful little barrier island off the coast of Georgia. Invitations were probably not even needed, because everybody knows everybody and they all rally around each other in times of sorrow or in times of joy.

  The service on the beach will be celebrating the life of this young man at a location he loved and, if we’re lucky, some dolphins will drop by to pay us a visit. He would love that! Afterward, covered dishes will be flowing into the old school cafeteria where we will all sit around and love on the family while talking about life, and death and the joy of being with each other. As is true anywhere on Tybee, the music during the lunch will be live (they rarely do canned music), upbeat and celebratory and the food will be, simply scrumptious.

  I’m sure somewhere in my Licensing and Ordination, I received books and packets of information that covered the guidelines and structure of a memorial service, but, being the rogue Minister that I am, I chose to go off the chart and do just what the family wanted. A pure Celebration of this man’s life. The music, the readings, the people, the prayers, the sand, waves and water…everything will be celebrating. Some may tap their toes and some may wear beads and feathers. And, hopefully, somewhere in this day, healing will begin for this family’s loss. Through memories, laughter, tears, hugs and friends. A true Tybee Celebration.

  My point in all this is to share the blessing it is for me to be a part of this wonderful family of Islanders and to be asked to be an officiant for this Celebration. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

  And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.