The Standard February 11, 2021
On Valentine’s Day 1997 our young family of four moved to Farmville from Huntsville, Alabama. A few months before that my husband had interviewed with several pastoral search committees at a Face-to-Face event in Richmond, Virginia. In December of 1996 we made our first visit to Farmville and after a tour of the church were driven a few blocks to the manse. I always will remember the excitement of riding down the street, seeing each house in the neighborhood, and wondering which one might become our home.
A beautiful Williamsburg-style brick house, the parsonage sat between pine trees with plenty more in the back yard, plus a public park. On move-in day, our sons eagerly went from room to room, finding a nice pile of toys left by church members. They were thrilled by the thought of having a bedroom on the second floor. Less than two years later their new sister joined them upstairs.
Before we left Alabama, a dear family gave us framed calligraphy of a prayer attributed to Bishop Thomas Ken who served in England in the 1600s. “God, make the door of this house wide enough to receive all who need human love and friendship, narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride and strife. Make its threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling block to children nor to straying feet, but rugged and strong enough to turn back the tempter’s power. God, make this house the gateway to Thine eternal kingdom.”
For twenty-four years that prayer has hung near our front door. As in most homes, ours has seen its share of laughter, tears, fun, frustration, growth and commitment. Hopefully, the primary goal of a household rooted in the grace and love of Jesus will continue to be realized. Although far from perfect, our homes are the best places for faith to be nurtured. We share this in common with the Israelites.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)