All Saints Episcopal Church, Hilton Head Island, SC
January 1, 2006
There is a great deal to be said about living on an island. We are blessed by the beauty of Hilton Head and the seasonable weather that provides three seasons that are distinguishable from one another, yet all quite livable and enjoyable. That is a blessing from God that many of us do not take for granted.
And yet there are inherent dangers living where we live in the United States. We are well aware of our vulnerability with strong tropical storms and hurricanes that threaten the Caribbean, the Gulf states, and the southern Atlantic region. We have been blessed, maybe because of our unique geographical position, to avoid tropical storms over the years and a direct hit by a hurricane. We may even feel at times that we live in a modern day version of the garden of Eden. With the hurricane season, the most active on record, relatively fresh in our minds, yet feeling the safety of the off season of Epiphany, it would be wise to prepare at least our attitude about storms and hurricanes.
Gary Good, our Staff Administrator, has brought to fruition months of preparation in bringing together this coming month members of the local government and local churches, community leaders, and the Island's emergency management team to discuss hurricane preparedness. Mayor Tom Peeples is so excited by this initiative that he will be the principle speaker as well as spearhead a move to address hurricane preparations and evacuations for all people on the Island. Gary has worked diligently to bring the community together at this event which All Saints will host.
In a preliminary meeting with the emergency management team on the Island, it was very apparent to me that I am grossly under-prepared, physically and mentally, to address the prospect of a tropical storm or hurricane sweeping over us. I have a vague notion of what to do before, during, and after a storm, but I am not prepared in a way that would save my life or those of others. We may wink at hurricane preparedness because we have been spared the ordeal over countless years, but in the face of our comfortableness, our lives are not insulated as if we are in that garden of Eden. .
Some questions to ponder:
How likely is it that Hilton Head will ever be hit by hurricane?
Aren't category 1 and 2 hurricanes fairly weak?
What exactly is a "storm surge," and why is it said that the most damage comes from it?
What will the town government do in case of such a storm?
Do you have a safety plan for you, your family and the pets?
How will you get off the island and when?
How important is human life to you? Will the religious community, community organizations, and the town reach out to the most vulnerable?
Can we achieve a complete canvass of the island and know that all will be helped in case of a severe storm or hurricane?
The town of Hilton Head is asking for our help and cooperation in hurricane preparations. Underneath that important request are these thoughts: Are we prepared to lend a hand and if yes, are we prepared individually to address the threat?
I see this work as our natural involvement, as Christians, in our community. I want this parish to lend a hand, to unite with other religious communities and organizations, to share our skills and faith, to offer everyone on the island, citizen and non-citizen alike, the belief and knowledge that all of us live in one community...that all will be embraced in moments of danger and threat.
Epiphany is a season that offers us Christ manifested in the world. And by thought, word, and deed, Christ extended himself into a chaotic and dangerous world, offering hope and love. He did not check the recipients' social, political, or religious status. He entered peoples' lives as the need arose; the questions he asked, if indeed he asked them, were about their spiritual and physical well-being.
There are storms in our lives that only the Spirit can address, and there are storms of our physical lives that seek the help of Christ who claims our lives in response to the cross and resurrection. We are asked to respond openly to the storms that others face, with the spirit of Christ within us, doing infinitely more than we can ever imagine. We need not distinguish what those storm look like or whether they are outward and visible or inward and spiritual.
0 God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
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