Which stained glass window do you notice when you sit in Fellowship Hall at a business meeting or weekly dinners? Which window catches your eye during worship? Do you ever choose a specific seat in Fellowship Hall or the sanctuary just so that you can contemplate that window? Dr. Mark Medley, Professor of Theology at Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, met with our staff last week to ask these very questions. Medley is working on a paper for the Baptist World Alliance’s next meeting where he is exploring the concept of the “saints” at Highland Baptist, as shaped by the cloud of witnesses that we find in our stained glass windows. A “saint” is not a perfect person, but a person of faith who is willing to step out in courage and humility to become the person God is calling one to be.
Which “saints” do you find most inspiring? Which “saint-in-progress” exemplifies the wisdom and courage you are seeking for the living of these days? The title for our pastoral column this year, “For the Living of These Days” comes from the hymn “God of Grace and God of Glory” written by Harry Emerson Fosdick in 1930. Fosdick penned the words during the Great Depression and between the two World Wars. This hymn placed words upon the lips and within the hearts of a nation a prayer for courage, wisdom, and power. It is a curious prayer that he pinned, inviting the church to consider how it might flourish in this moment of great unrest.
In times of social unrest, we are called to remember that we are not the first people of faith to walk through days like these. Even, and perhaps especially, in seasons of political turmoil, we must look to those who have gone before us. The saints encourage us to trust a God who can bring the church’s bud to glorious flower when the world needs it the most.
I encourage you to wonder this week—what saint brings you comfort? Who challenges you to act in bold faith? Who inspires you to hope, even when you are convinced that God may have left the building? God of grace and glory, grant us eyes to see the saints that surround us and a courageous heart to become the saints you are calling us to be.