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
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.