Of all the things pastors get to do, welcoming newborns into the world is about the most joyful. That’s especially true when the parents of the little one are part of your ministerial team and you love them like your own children. Yesterday, that once again came to pass. I join with Chris, Jasmine, and big brother Hudson in welcoming Emerson Evon Culpepper, the newest member of the FBC family. Lisa and I experienced a bit of a delay in putting our eyes and hands on that precious child, for twice the nurse sent us to the wrong room. The first hint was the blue, not pink, stocking on the door. The second was the bewildered look of a new mom when strangers came knocking to welcome her bundle of joy. Once at the right door, we heard the joyful sound. To nobody’s surprise, the baby girl of Chris Culpepper has got quite the set of lungs. Diction will come along, but volume and tonality are there, by God. So too are the signature cheeks and gentle spirit.
This comes in the week when we pay a lot of attention to the arrival of a new baby. Whether they arrive in Bradenton or Bethlehem, these births remind us of God’s unfailing love and commitment to always be doing new things with, for, and through his people. Sunday we will gather twice to celebrate this great truth. In the morning, we will take the next-to-last station on the Advent journey, the whistle stop of peace. And our month-long celebration will culminate with a very meaningful Christmas Eve service at six o’clock. Carols, candles, and communion will give worshipful accompaniment to the words declaring that Christ the Savior is born. We will also join with the Rosendale family in dedicating their new child on such a special night as this.
Nothing says new like a baby. For all of us who desire and design for life to find fresh direction, there is no better place to start than at the manger. No, there is no other place to start. This new life has come to give us new life. I do suppose that after the traveling and the travail, when the angels and the shepherds had returned to heaven and heather, Mary must have looked into the face of her son and wondered, “Where do we go from here?” Arriving at Christmas is one thing, departing it with Christ in tow is quite another. Was for her. Is for us. May we follow her lead and, in curiosity, wonderment, and unfailing trust, walk into the days ahead holding onto the God who is with us. And promises to always be.