Blessings and Benedictions

Only a week ago, we watched as college students carried the Light of Christ down the center aisle of the sanctuary into the world, as we recognized their graduation from college, and this week, we will hand out Bibles to our high school seniors, as we recognize their graduation. These acts of blessing and benediction, which send them forth into this transition of their lives, are full of stories.

Looking back from these blessings and benedictions, we see the storied life of faith. It is the story of the years of college. It is a story marked by arriving to campus, looking for a church, receiving an invitation, eating a home cooked meal, meeting members of the congregation, and then growing together with other travelers along the way, sprinkled with discoveries and friendships. It is also the story of growing up in a congregation. It is a story marked by baby dedication and learning from Sunday School teachers, attending retreats with the youth group and asking good questions, choosing baptism and gathering around the Table, singing in the choir and having mentors that impact our lives before high school graduation.

We have a storied faith, including the stories of scripture and the stories of our lives. We can talk about how the story of God has shaped and formed our stories, and we can talk about how the story of Auburn First Baptist has shaped and formed our stories as well. They are stories of college students and our youth as well as our stories. They are stories of comfort during times of grief, support during times of questions, encouragement during times of perseverance, and grace during times of struggle. They are stories for which we are grateful.

The place where the church intersects our lives is the place of our story. Some of it belongs to the church; some of it belongs to us. It is why we belong to one another, as our stories are intertwined. They are stories that we celebrate and pass along.

The story of this church that shapes our lives is grace-filled and gospel-centered. It is a good story. It is the story of the shared journey of faith. It can be celebrated and told in countless smaller stories. They are the stories of college students and our youth as well as our stories. They are the stories of youth serving the hungry, children singing in worship, college students studying scripture and Sunday School classes caring for one another. In all the ways we serve the community around us, our story is woven into the stories of others as well—a story of compassion, generosity, and hope. It is how our story comes to reflect the story of God.