Though our Sunday worship service had to be canceled, Redeemer Presbyterian Church did look so pretty in the snow! Our red doors and black wrought-iron gates made a beautiful contrast to the white fluffy snow. As Charleston, SC, thaws this week and kids head back to school, we can remember the beauty and be thankful our warm weather returns soon.
Hurricane Irma’s Impacts for Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Charleston, SC:
- Saturday’s inquirers’ class is POSTPONED.
- Sunday’s Christian-education hour is CANCELED.
- Sunday’s worship service information – UPDATE
With the largest hurricane in recorded history approaching 3 coastal states, voluntary and mandatory evacuations are already beginning further south. Our governor has declared a state of emergency. Wise hurricane preparations will require many of us to spend the next few days securing our homes for strong winds, gathering medications and storm supplies, making any evacuation travel plans, and checking on any relatives in vulnerable areas.
To enable all of you to care for your families and property, we’re postponing our inquirers’ class that was scheduled for this Saturday, September 9. Once we’re through the storm, we’ll know whether we can plan a class for the following weekend or whether we’ll be cleaning up and drying out, making necessary our postponing the class further into the fall.
We’re also canceling our Christian-education classes for this Sunday, September 10. Lord willing, we’ll be able to gather as usual the following Sunday for classes and our worship service.
This Sunday’s worship service as of now is not canceled, but if there is a mandatory evacuation for Charleston for Sunday, then we’ll definitely cancel the worship service, too. We always try to comply with local officials’ orders.
- Our worship service and all classes for Sunday, October 9 are canceled.
- If you need a place to evacuate to, we’ve graciously had several families from upstate churches open their homes. Contact Gray Morgan for details.
- The baby shower of blessings originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon, October 9 is postponed to a later date to be announced soon.
- The women’s prayer watch normally on Saturday morning, October 8 is canceled.
Tomorrow’s Email Blast will have more details about canceled and postponed events plus, as always, pertinent information about opportunities for service and other upcoming events.
This past week at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Charleston, SC, we celebrated the 3rd anniversary of God’s faithfulness in enabling us to purchase our buildings and save them from being turned into a private home, condos, and offices. Our celebration coincided with the celebration to thank Joe Riley for 40 years of service to Charleston. The mayor was instrumental in helping us save our buildings and noted in his State of the City address in January 2013 that saving our historic sanctuary and educational building was the most important event that happened in Charleston in 2012. Our own Kathy Bailey was chosen as an artist to participate in the Thanks, Joe! Celebration. Pictured above is her presenting her original oil painting of Redeemer to the mayor. See more pictures here of our Redeemer family saying Thanks, Joe!
As we dry out from the storm over the weekend, we’re starting to hear amazing stories of God’s mercy and faithfulness to his people. We’re planning a night of worship on Tuesday, October 13 at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Charleston, SC, with music, praise, prayer, and stories of the storm. If you have a “storm story” you’d like to share, please contact Gray Morgan to be added to the list. Bring finger foods to share for our fellowship hour at 6 pm; then we’ll hear stories and worship our great and mighty God at 7. Children are welcome at this event, though there will be no formal childcare offered.
If you tried to visit our website earlier this week–and were scared by Google’s worrisome warning about imminent attacks if you continued to our site, we’re so sorry for your inconvenience and inability to reach us. After two harrowing and super-busy days of fighting the evil side of technology, our website is restored. A huge thanks to the support team at GoDaddy without whom I might be curled up in a corner somewhere. As I spend the next several days checking our site and fixing what didn’t get restored, please let me know if you find something that needs fixing. Thanks be to God for showing me how much I need others’ help, how I cannot do anything through my own strength, and how quick He is to rescue me when I cry out for help.
Tragedies happen every single day, both in our own country and around the world. Yet most of the time when we hear about them, we think to ourselves, “That is so sad!”… and then move on. A couple of weeks ago, however, tragedy came to our city and to a setting we could all relate to personally, and now we may have a harder time moving on. We find it more difficult to push away the pain when it is so much closer to us! So how do we deal with the emotional pain we all feel and the inevitable questions that arise in our minds in the wake of the Charleston shooting at the Emmanuel AME Church, or for that matter, any traumatically negative event?
Fortunately for Christians, we have both our faith and theology and our Comforter and Counselor–the Holy Spirit! As we seek to make sense of the senseless, we may rest assured that God will fulfill His promise to guard both our hearts and minds with His peace (Phil. 4:6-7). But in order for this to happen, we need to seek Him and remind ourselves just who this God is that we claim to worship. We do so by calling to mind what He has revealed of Himself in Scripture. There are many attributes of God that we could name, but I want to focus on just three. Think with me for a moment about how our knowledge of God as a sovereign God, a loving God, and a just God can help us through such trying circumstances.
When we first learn about a traumatic event (e.g. the unexpected horror of our AME brothers and sisters being gunned down by a stranger they welcomed into their Bible Study), our first reaction is shock. We are psychologically knocked off-balance as our illusion of personal safety and control is shattered. Fear results when we realize just how vulnerable we actually are! We are not in control of our lives and that can be a very scary thought. It puts a dent in our God-complex. (Yes, even Christians forget who’s really in charge!)
Next, fear turns to anger, a more powerful-feeling and less psychologically-threatening emotion. We want justice and we want it NOW!! The fight-or-flight response kicks in, motivating us to action. We skip church the next Sunday, thinking maybe it’s not a safe place. After all, we have young children to protect! Or we go on a rampage about racists and the place of guns and flags in our society, because after all, we have to do something! But God says something entirely different to us. He says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps.46:10) So what is it we know about this God?
- Our God is a sovereign God. Nothing happens in this life apart from His sovereign will, including disaster in a city (Amos 3:6b), good and bad things (Lam. 3:38), or well-being and calamity (Is. 45:7). Yet, while never compromising His holy character, He uses the evil deeds of men and Satan in this fallen world to accomplish His good purposes (Gen. 50:20a; Prov. 16:4).
- Our God is a loving God. We know this because of the extreme lengths He went to in order to restore our broken relationship with Himself (John 3:16; II Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:5-8). In addition, God is not only our sovereign Creator, He is also our loving Father. We are not cosmic orphans left alone to wander the universe, but we are deeply loved children of our Heavenly Father. As a Father, He tenderly comforts us when we are afraid. In fact, it would surprise you to know that His most often repeated command throughout Scripture (>300 times) is “Don’t be afraid!” (p. 59 of Running Scared by Ed Welch). Furthermore, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit that He would send to be with us after His ascension, the Counselor or Comforter (KJV).
- Our God is a just God. He tells us to leave vengeance to Him (Rom. 12:19-21). Our part is to forgive, His to render justice! We are promised that one day all will be made right and the guilty will pay (II Cor. 5:10) and pain and mourning will be a thing of the past (Rev. 21: 1-4). Praise God for that!
King David does a good job of putting these three attributes of God together in Ps. 62:11-12:
Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
according to his work.
Repetition serves to emphasize the veracity of what David is saying here, as he highlights the same three characteristics of God: His power and sovereignty, His steadfast love, and His justice. The background of this Psalm appears to be David’s enemies’ desire to topple him from his throne through lies and treachery, yet David is able to entrust his soul and his fate to God, because he knows his God!
Peace only comes in the storms of life when we acknowledge God’s sovereign rule over all that happens–both the good and the bad; trust in His great and enduring love for us (I say trust because it takes faith to look past circumstances that may lead us to think otherwise); and hope in God’s final accounting of all human behavior. Meditation on the first two attributes can help to alleviate our fear. Meditation on the third can help assuage our anger. In addition, we need to remember that apart from Christ’s atoning life, death, and resurrection for us, we, too, would stand just as condemned as those we condemn! Humbly recognizing our own sin and the forgiveness we’ve been granted enables us with the Holy Spirit’s aid to forgive and extend mercy, leaving vengeance to God…where it belongs!
So I encourage us all, in the words of King David in Ps. 62:8
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.
May we all imitate the fearlessness and forgiveness modeled so graciously by the families of the AME 9. And may we, like David, call on God alone as our rock, our salvation, our glory, and our refuge! (Ps. 62) Amen!
Just around the corner from Redeemer, Trinity United Methodist Church will host a hymn-singing service to lift up Emmanuel AME Church tonight, June 23 at 7. Trinity UMC (273 Meeting St.) sits at the corner of Meeting and Society streets, so feel free to park in two of our Redeemer parking lots–both the bank lot and the Wentworth Streeet lot–and walk on over for the service.