By Amanda Highben
Greetings sisters and brothers in Christ! It’s good to be back in your midst again now that Zeb and I have made it through our first seven weeks of caring for a newborn. Cecilia has blessed and enriched our lives in ways we never imagined, but we’ve also discovered just how much new parents need patience, courage, and the support of their friends and loved ones.
I’m especially mindful of the last item on this list—the support of friends and loved ones—because without it, I’m not quite sure how parents of a newborn make it through the first few months—although I also realize that single parents or parents who live far away from their relatives often find a way through, all the while showing great grace and strength. I for one know, however, that as I tackle the steep learning curve of motherhood, I’m very thankful to live near our families and to be a member of the body of Christ here at St. John’s.
I’m certain that Christ’s love has been reflected in your encouragement, prayers, gifts, and the wisdom and advice you’ve shared as we prepared to welcome Ceci and now that she’s here with us. Certainly this is God’s Church at its best—when we act as instruments of grace for one another and live together in solidarity. As Saint Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another…” (12.15-16a).
Of course, living in harmony with one another doesn’t mean the absence of tension or conflict. Because we are both at once saints and sinners, there are times when we (intentionally and unintentionally) wound each other. But in the presence of conflict we remember that God has given us “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5.18b) and calls us through baptism to “live among God’s faithful people.” There is no substitute for living among God’s faithful people; to be a Christian is to live in relationship with our fellow disciples. . .and to be led by God in inviting those on the outside to join us. Keep these things in mind, beloved, as we move into the autumn season and prepare for the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ.