It was a rich moment. Fourteen wiggly, anxious children received their first Bibles this past Sunday at First Baptist. I tried to recall that day in my own life. It felt like long ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
As I struggled to remember, the floodgates were opened when Alan said: “The way we welcome children in church directly affects the way they respond to the church, to God, to Christ, to one another; so let them know that they are at home in this house of worship.”
I first felt that sense of welcome and sanctuary at First Baptist Greenville where I grew up. That Sanctuary was, for me, just as the definition suggests: a place of refuge or safety, a holy place.
It was the place I was ordained. It was the place that felt like home during breaks from seminary and college. The place I preached my first sermon as a High School Senior during Youth Week. Where I reached over the edge of the silver tray to select my first tiny glass of grape juice to wash down a carefully-cut cube of communion bread. Where the waters of baptism washed over my face. Where my dropped half pencil seemed to crash to the floor with a deafening “plink, plink, plink…” Where my friends and I crawled under the pews after church. Where I first stepped out of my pew and tentatively walked forward to shake the pastor’s hand, to share my commitment to Christ, and to join the Church. And where I received my first Bible.
My church made me feel at home. It became a safe place–a sanctuary. With a piece of butterscotch candy each week from the greeter and the reassuring caress of my mother’s hand on the head of her restless, wiggly child, I began to believe. And the house of worship is still my home.