If it’s good to be together, it must be bad to be apart.
And yet: the truth is that life has always been a rhythm of separation and togetherness,
exile and return. We may prefer the “return” bit, the “bring you back to this place” bit, but that doesn’t mean separation isn’t part of the story.
Experiences of separation are at least as old as the ancient stories of the Garden of Eden,
the Israelites’ exile in Babylon, and the parable of the Prodigal Son. Jesus and his
followers were separated by betrayal and death, and then reunited by forgiveness and
newness of life. Even on our most “normal” days, our lives are a rhythm of gathering and
dispersing, coming together and going apart, calls to worship and benedictions.
These past two years have been another profound experience of this ancient pattern,
caused by a global pandemic, and as challenging as it’s been, we can take solace in the
knowledge that our ancestors, too, experienced seasons of exile and suffering. And here’s
the point: thanks to this history, over time our faith — and our church — has been built to
help us live through such seasons with grace and hope.
The beauty of worship — gathering together in the midst of a world full of distance. The
wonder of music — singing together in the midst of a world full of silence and loneliness.
The sweetness of the ordinances — celebrating together the waters of baptism and the
nourishment of Communion in the midst of a world full of dust and hunger. And the joy of service-working together in the midst of a world full of broken systems and broken hearts.
In short, if the world is full of exile, First Baptist Church can still be a community of return.
A place to come home to, again and again. A congregation in which we can tangibly
experience God’s ancient promise to “bring you back to this place,” and “give you a future with hope.”
And here’s one more thing that’s true: even when this pandemic is a distant memory, the
world will still be full of need. Still longing for home, for community, for reunion, for return.
That’s why we’re here. That’s who we are: a waystation of hope along life’s way. It’s the
same reason God chose to be born with us as Jesus of Nazareth, to help us build bridges
of connection and companionship — so that everyone might experience a homecoming to God’s new work of joy, justice, and love.
In a few weeks, stewardship season will begin at First Baptist Church. The theme for
this year is “A Future With Hope,” and our goal is clear: to fully fund the ministry of our
congregation for the coming year. Commitment Sunday is November 20. On that day,
we ask you to please bring your completed pledge cards with you. We will gather our
pledges together, bless them, and celebrate together in worship.