Exactly a week ago I traveled about 230 miles up I–85 from High Point, North Carolina, to your home here in Richmond, Virginia. Today, however, I am sitting at a picnic table under the most beautiful white oak tree here at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. As I eat my slightly melted ham and cheese sandwich I cannot help but enjoy the shade. Bike riding in the heat of the mid-day sunlight to the VMFA was not my brightest idea; yet, as I locked up my bike and desperately scanned the lawn, there was the bright yellow picnic table, sweetly calling out my name. As I sit here I cannot help but look around at the people sharing this shade – a group of four women chatting and laughing, a young couple and their months old baby laying in the grass, people wandering to and fro who stop to soak in the comfort of the shade, talking to their neighbors, leaning on strollers, sending a quick text message. We all grapple with the heat of the day under this tree, not as a form of escape but as a from of rest and recognition. In the moment, I am struck by the beauty of God’s creation and its resemblance to the community I have observed at Tabernacle Baptist Church.
Near the end of last semester, I was struggling with my plans for the summer. I felt the desire to do something new and meaningful where I could learn more about ministry and about myself. The day I planned to reach out to previous employers one last time was the day that Rev. Meg Lacy made a post on Facebook, putting out the call for a summer pastoral intern. You could say that post felt like a bright yellow picnic table on the first day of June. Through emails and phone calls and prayer over the course two weeks, I felt that Tabernacle was where I was called to be this summer. Indeed, here I am. Every person I have met and interacted with in the last week has been so incredibly welcoming and such a source of comfort. Yet I do not get the impression that Tabernacle is a place that fails to grapple with the heat of the world and the struggles of every day life and tension. In this space, I look forward to getting to know even more of you who come to this place of rest and reflection in community with one another.
An important aspect of getting to know one another lies in introduction, so I would love to share a bit about myself with you. As the youngest of three children I have learned so much from my family and received such support. My mother serves as Minister to Children at Emerywood Baptist Church and my father served as a Deacon for a large chunk of my formative years. They helped me form the foundation of my faith and helped me listen for the call of an opportunity such as this. In addition to my family, my education is an important aspect of who I am as a person. Although I am from North Carolina, I attend school in Macon, Georgia at Mercer University. There, I just completed my first year studying English and Religion as a double major with a possible double minor in Environmental Studies and Ethics, Leadership, & Service.
Thank you so much, Tabernacle, for your spirit of hospitality and trust in me to minister with and to you.