Good morning!

Several months ago, I was approached about sharing my Impact Story with our congregation during a Sunday Worship service.

I have to admit that my first reaction was to immediately try and figure out a way to get out of doing this.

Despite the fact that I stand up in front of Middle School students for a living and speak in front of people almost every day for my job, standing in front of a church congregation is very different, and much more nerve-racking to me.

Plus, about 5 years ago, I stood up here in front of you all and had shared some of my thoughts about this church during our annual Stewardship campaign. In my mind, I felt like I had nothing new to share, and that someone else would be much more suited for this task! So, I went about trying my hardest to get out of being the one that is standing up here in front of you today.

Well, as you can see, I did not succeed.

So, here I am. And here goes…….

I am a child of Trinity. I was baptized right down front here back in the mid-1970’s by Dr. Patrick. My parents and big sister had moved to Charlotte a few years earlier, and shortly after I was born they began looking for a church to join. They visited numerous churches around Charlotte, before finally deciding on Trinity and making it our family’s church home.

I was raised in this church by many of you that are sitting out there today.

As I started to reflect on exactly what I wanted to share with you this morning, I thought back over all of the other times that I have stood in front of this congregation during my lifetime and shared my faith journey with you all.

I believe the first time was when I was an 8th grader going through the Confirmation process here at Trinity and had to share my faith statement in front of the session. I actually remember that night, primarily for how nervous I was, but, I have no memory of exactly what it was that I said back then about my faith.

The next time was my junior year of high school when I stood at this lectern and gave one of the homilies during Youth Sunday. Because our youth group was pretty small back then, I actually gave a homily as both a junior and a senior in high school, and I still remember the basic gist of each of them.

My junior year, I quoted the Carol King song “You’ve Got a Friend” and tied it into the friendships I had made with many of my peers in youth group, as well as how Trinity had taught me that no matter what happened in my life that I always had a friend in Jesus.

My senior year, I followed it up with a reference to one of the Indiana Jones movies, and then, in a way that probably only made sense to my 18 year old brain, I tied a scene from that movie into learning faithfulness from this congregation and how I would carry the lessons learned at Trinity with me to college and beyond. In typical Youth Sunday homily style, I thanked a long list of folks that had supported me, loved me, and taught me along the way.

Roughly 7 years ago, I stood in front of our Session and gave my Faith Statement to the sitting elders as part of my Installation onto Session. I actually still have those notes on my computer and read through them as I prepared what I wanted to say this morning. I wrote about my daughter, who was 18-months at the time, and who is now 8 years old, and I told a story about she and I were taking an early morning walk around Lake Susan one Sunday at Montreat. The main focus of my faith statement was that I had learned how to love by being loved. And you all, the people of Trinity, were some of the most important people that taught me how to love because you had loved me.

Then, about 5 years ago, as I mentioned earlier, I spoke one morning as part of our Stewardship campaign. I told the story of one of our former Associate Pastors, Steve Goyer, coming back to Trinity from his new church in Atlanta to officiate the wedding of Damon and Kelly Coley. While in town he preached a Sunday sermon here at Trinity that opened with the following thoughts: “I am here today to let you know that you are doing your jobs. 25-year old men and women do not go to church. But yours do. You are carrying out the vows that you made at baptism to raise your children in faith and in the life of this church.” I went on to thank this congregation for all the things that they had done for me as you all helped raise me, you loved me, you cared for my family during difficult times, you celebrated with us during joyous time, you took an interest in my life, you modeled for me how to live a life of faith, and you helped teach me to know and love God.

So, I sat down earlier this week and reflected on what has happened in recent years here at this church that has once again impacted me. And what it made me realize was that Trinity has continued to shape me and impact me even when I do not always realize it, and that I indeed have something to share this morning.

In recent years I have met many new people here at Trinity that have blossomed into friendships that I never would have expected.

I have marveled at the leadership and vibrancy that Steve has brought to our church, and I have been moved by the excitement that we collectively share about the future of our church.

I have mourned the loss of some of the most important pillars in my life at this church. While grieving over their loss, it gave me time for reflection on the lessons that they had taught me. I miss these people dearly, but they still impact me today as I remember them and try to live into the example that they have set.

I have experienced the beauty of hiking up Lookout Mountain with my daughter, and the joy of riding a paddle-boat around Lake Susan with my son. I have seen the smiles on their two faces as they run around the old barn with their friends during the square dance, and their excitement while playing hide and seek in the lobby of the Assembly Inn.

I felt the Holy Spirit move through our time together as an Associate Pastor Nominating committee, and many times it felt as if God was in fact sitting around the table with us during all of our many meetings. I grew close to the other members of the committee as we tried to faithfully work through the process of calling a new Associate Pastor, and our meetings were filled with laughter and excitement- which I am betting is not always the case on some Nominating Committees. There is simply no way to explain the union of our church with Grace Lindvall other than the fact that God was a part of that process for both sides. And while we hooted, hollered, high-fived and high-stepped all around Room 113 on the night that Grace accepted our church’s call over the speakerphone, I felt as if God was joyously fist-pumping and celebrating in the room with our committee that night as well.

Most importantly, I have once again seen this congregation show its sincerity and faithfulness in carrying out the vows that you all made at the baptism of my own two children as you teach them, you care for them, you pray for them, and you love them in the same way that you did for me when I was a child.

So, as I stand here again in front of this congregation, I am once again filled with abundant gratefulness and a very full heart.

I am so thankful to my parents for the decision that they made nearly 40 years ago to make Trinity our family’s church home. That simple decision that they made for us back then has shaped my life in immeasurable ways.

And I would like to once again say thank you to this congregation. Thank you for believing in the importance of the baptismal vows that we make, and for doing your job so amazingly well.

Brian Field