“Living Life Together Based on Friendship with Jesus”
Our smart devices periodically display old photos that spark memories, and recently my iPad shared a favorite photo of mine. It was taken ten years ago at Wake Forest’s 2012 Commencement Ceremony. As a Wake Forest Trustee at the time, it was my privilege to process with my fellow Wake Forest Trustees, the President, administrators and faculty along with the many students who were completing their undergraduate and graduate degrees. I was particularly looking forward to the 2012 Commencement because my NCS Brother and friend Chris Welch was receiving his Master of Divinity degree.
Chris had been active in NCS Winston Salem from the start, emerging in his initial leadership role—not as the Rabbi, but as our outstanding goalie in Broomball at Mohonk Mountain House in 2006. It was only a few years after the NCS retreat at Mohonk that Chris felt a call on his life to apply to Wake Forest’s Divinity School for a Master’s degree. I was in a small group with Chris as he considered applying to Wake Forest and continued in the group with him during his months as a student. I recall Chris’s graduate student years being both rewarding as well as challenging and sometimes frustrating.
On Graduation Day 2012, I could appreciate Chris’s accomplishment. I texted him from the crowded and buzzing Hearn Plaza to make sure I could get a photo of us on his special day. Chris’s wife Cherie was gracious to snap the photo (the concept of a selfie had not yet arrived!). The photo of Chris and me captures an amazing truth for many of us who have been showing up on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings, now for almost two decades: we have been living life together. We have history with one another. We have prayed with one another, and now we are growing older with one another, seeking to keep our focus on Jesus and investing in this relational network which we call NCS.
God has been faithful to our NCS Winston Salem group as we begin our 18th year of just showing up. We have lost some brothers along the way, and some have moved to different seasons and callings in their faith journeys. We are praying for more brothers in need of healing these days. We have lost parents, yet we have gained grandchildren. We have worked on being a more welcoming place for men. Hopefully we have grown in faith and drawn closer to Jesus.
Thank you for showing up.