Baptist Routes Pilgrimage – Day 1
What began as a wild idea due to listening to too much NPR became our reality today. At 9:08 a.m., we pulled out of the church parking lot with every square inch of the car packed with essentials for our trip. Our technology box was filled to the brim with cameras, tripods, microphones, and cables galore. We packed a 20 pound snack box to ensure that no one would have to go into a roadside gas station for a bag of Doritos. Most importantly, we packed a portable camping potty and a pop-up tent to lessen our COVID risk in the event of inevitable potty breaks.
The drive was uneventful, thank goodness. Each mile brought back memories from each of our childhoods. We made the obligatory stop at South Carolina’s greatest tourist trap, South of the Border. Sophie, knowing we were bound for Boston, asked with great excitement, “Is this Boston?!” Dismayed by our response that we were not, in fact, in Boston, she resigned herself to climb on the cow and horse statues adorning the landscape.
Throughout the drive, we strategized about sermons. Taking on this trip means becoming traveling evangelists. We thought since we’ve become televangelists over the last 7 months, why not add a travel component to it like the great revivalists of old? In the 10 days we will be traveling, each of us will be researching, writing, and preaching five homilies to be used in upcoming worship services. It is a great undertaking.
To prepare for our sermons to be recorded at First Baptist Church in the City of Washington, D.C., we spent miles of our drive researching Oglethorpe’s plans for Savannah and comparing them to the plans for D.C. We read of presidential commitments to their faith using our professor, Melissa Rogers, book Faith in American Public Life. We reflected on the importance of the faiths represented in this city that is, in many ways, the crossroads of the world.
We will be using our sermons recorded in D.C. for Epiphany, which is the liturgical celebration of the journey of the Magi. The Magi represent the nations—people who differ in religion, politics, and nationality. But their journey to the Christ child’s side is the journey that we hope to take regularly to recognize the Divine in the face of someone entirely different from us.
As we drove into D.C., the city was lit by the stars and the lights of the buildings. Conversations about our memories filled the car. We laughed until we couldn’t breathe. We remembered church members and friends who made the mid-Atlantic feel like home for a time. We recalled Family Adventure Day trips taking the train from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. to show baby Sophie the sites.
All in all, it was a successful day to begin this experience of a lifetime for us and those who journey — virtually—with us.