At the tender age of 22 I had served the good folks of Unity Baptist for nearly two years. During that time I grew a beard, got engaged, married, finished college, and prepared to move to Louisville, KY to attend seminary. This church loved me through and through, even though I was not much better behind the pulpit than when I started and had lots to learn about being a pastor. Still, they blessed me and bless me still.
My final Sunday with them came on a warm May morning. There was a covered dish luncheon following the service, so the pressure was on to keep my sermon brief. At the luncheon Amy and I were showered with affection, cards, well-wishes, and one very special gift from the church – a brass desk lamp. It was given to me with the hope that it would help me through my studies in seminary, as well as the many years ahead as a pastor.
I have lugged that lamp with me – all the way to Kentucky and back – for the last quarter of a century. As a student it was perched on my desk in the corner of our tiny apartment, illuminating my studies even the Hebrew was still dark and mysterious. It has traveled with me to some great pastorates in Georgia including Mansfield, Chickamauga, Marietta and for the last ten years Augusta. On cold days I place my hands over the brass shade to enjoy a little warmth. When days are short and mornings and evening are dark, it casts a beautiful glow from my study. On any day year round it is usually the only source of light, besides what the windows let in.
When I look at that lamp I remember the beautiful congregation that blessed me – a church that no longer meets, because few people want to go to country churches. I also think about the friends we made there who cast light into our lives.
When I look at that lamp I also experience the continued glow of friends and family I have made over the years among the churches I have served. I am so grateful Augusta has enlightened my life with love and grace.
When Jesus speaks of letting our light shine I think one of the best ways we do that is through holy friendships. Genuine community casts a light that darkness cannot comprehend. Thank you friends for letting me walk a while in your light.