The promises have been kept. The promise will be kept for many more years to come. A couple of decades ago (give or take a few years), your parents carried you across the threshold of the church narthex—maybe for the first time. You were donned in a family christening gown or a new christening gown or the only clean onesie your parents could find. You came to the senior minister’s office and received instructions for the upcoming service. Your part was easy—be cute and try to be quiet. Of course, being quiet was optional. Your parents’ part was a tad more complicated. They had to answer a couple of questions and then commit themselves to nurturing you toward faith in God through the ministries of the church. Your parents were a tad nervous; the service was conspicuous, the vows were momentous, and the future is always hopeful but never certain. During the service, the congregation engaged a momentous moment as well. The people you’ve been attending church with for years promised to love you unconditionally. They were determined to support you and love you regardless of what you accomplished or failed to accomplished, where you went, or who you became. They didn’t just prayerfully put you in God’s hands, but they took you into their own and trusted God to hold us all. These promises were repeated in some form at your baptism. The baptismal affirmations were a reminder of the church’s commitment to your life and God’s purposes for that life. The promises were shaped and shared in Sunday School classrooms, worship, choir and mission gatherings, basketball league, Easter egg hunts, phone calls when you were sick, Camp Prism, Rockmont, and a host of other programs and activities. The promises made by your family and your faith family have been kept.
What we want you to know today is that the promises continue. As you graduate from high school, college, graduate school, and seminary, we hope you remain aware of the hands and hearts that hold you up. We hope that wherever life takes you and whatever God and life make of you, you forever carry the sense that First Baptist Greenville is home. In the years to come, she might be your landing place or your visiting place or just a memory. Either way, when you walk through these doors you will continue to be welcomed, challenged and unconditionally loved. Congratulations to all our 2021 graduates. And thank you First Baptist Greenville for keeping your promises.