Shared by Patrick Cardwell at the 2019 Friends’ Day.
The writer of Hebrews 11 reminds us that faith is a journey – hopefully a lifelong one. That’s a well-used description of what we believe about our relationship to God. Well-used, no doubt, because it’s true. Faith is indeed a journey. I am reminded of that when I come to see you all during the week. I’ve been back at First Baptist for only a month and a half, but already I have heard a few stories of faith from you all. Stories of how First Baptist has been your church home for decades, how ministers and members have helped you through difficult times of loss and change, and have been with you during moments of joy and relief. We’ve shared how powerful common bonds like scripture, sacred music, and prayer can be – especially if it was our first time meeting one another. More than anything, we’ve come to discover how so much of our faith stories are connected by our common faith as disciples of Jesus and how we both find a place to live out that faith right here at First Baptist.
Many of you have shared your stories of faith with me, and I’m looking forward to hearing more of them. It’s a theme that the writer of Hebrews wants us to remember as well, calling our attention back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were travelers, foreigners passing through the land. And for shelter, they had only tents. You know I went camping over the Labor Day weekend at Jordan Lake, and some dark clouds were hanging around for a little longer than I wanted. I don’t mind sleeping in a dry tent, but when it’s raining, no thanks. So Hebrews reminds us that Abrhaham, Isaac, and Jacob looked forward to a city with foundations. They wanted a solid shelter, not a temporary tent. They longed for a sanctuary at the end of the day, a place to rest in safety, a house where they could live with family and invite friends over on the weekend. They wanted to trade in their stakes and tarp for a strong foundation and a roof.
That’s what this church has been for me: a home. A place with a strong foundation. I haven’t been part of the church for nearly as long as many of you, but it has felt like a place of grounding, a place of calm, a place where I fit well. I explored my calling to church ministry here as an intern during my studies at Wake Forest Divinity School, it was a sanctuary of rest for me during a season between jobs and trying to find my way, and now it is a place for me to continue to work and grow and use my gifts in ministry. Best of all for me is that I get to do it with you all. You all in this place today and across Greensboro are the people who have laid the foundation and maintained this place for decades. I can call this church home because you have worked so hard and been so faithful to make a lasting difference. I’m here because you are and because I believe God still is. The God that gathers us into community, who loves us fiercely, and calls us forward to continue the work of the church. It’s the work of reminding each person just how much they’re loved. The work of partnering with God and with one another to bring new creation and light into the world. The work of helping others find and feel at home. I hope you sense that this afternoon in our time together, right back home here at First Baptist Greensboro.