March 14, 2021- A white rose on the communion table celebrated the birth of the newest addition to the Lenape Valley faith community. Little AJ made his appearance in this world fourteen weeks earlier than expected, just two pounds at birth. He is perfect in miniature… 10 fingers, 10 toes… fingernails so tiny that they are barely perceptible to the naked eye… and eyes that have yet to see the light of day. For twenty-six weeks he was protected and nurtured in his mother’s womb, but now he calls the NICU at Lankenau Hospital home. His mom and dad visit every day; sometimes they are blessed with kangaroo cuddles that bond parent and child in vital ways. Many of you know AJ’s mom- Brittany, and his grandmom- Laura, and his great grandmom- Walda. But even those of you who do not know this family have been praying for Anthony James. He is God’s little miracle in our midst.
Since AJ’s birth, people have shared so many wonderful stories of little ones born too early, who are now toddlers and soccer players, carpenters, and insurance brokers. When Scott was born, he was as tiny as AJ. No one expected him to survive. But forty-five years later, he is married, and last year was blessed with a son of his own. Our son Matthew was just 1pound 2 ounces at birth and now he drives a forklift at work and is engaged to be married. When he was born, he could fit into the palm of your hand. Some would argue that these babies are miracles of modern science. But I would counter that medical advances come because of the intellect that God gives, and the resources of the earth that God has formed, and the creative Spirit of God infused in us that inspires amazing thought. Those miracles of modern science have God’s fingerprints all over them!
The other day, the Moms’ Bible study met. When they considered the miracle of these tiny babies, they were quick to observe that their more robust babies were equally miraculous! Little Abigail and Matthew and Andy and Jeffery and Gia and Max… and the list goes on… One miracle of God after another. Lenape Valley has been having a baby boom of miracles since COVID hit! But the Moms did not stop with their observation of the miracle of birth. They noticed the gift of laughter, and the wonder of the human mind… they marveled at a beautiful sunset and the symphony of sound that pleases the ear… they celebrated the healing they had experienced and the strength to navigate our physical decline with grace… The list of miracles continued until we realized that we didn’t have enough time to name them all. Instead, we agreed to be vigilant, on the look-out for God’s fingerprints in our everyday life.
The disciples in Jesus’ day had the privilege of witnessing what the fingerprint of Jesus could do. The blind see… the lame walk… the outcast restored… the hungry eat. Imagine seeing those miracles day after day. Yet, at times it seems like the disciples grow tired of the miraculous, or at least impatient with those who beg for Jesus’ touch. Do you remember the hungry crowd on the hillside? One young boy has come prepared. While the crowd grows hungry, the boy has a feast to enjoy- five loaves of bread and two fish. But instead, the boy chooses to give his feast away. In that moment, he becomes not just a witness to an extraordinary miracle, but a participant in the delivery of that miracle. His fingerprints are sideby-side with those of Jesus himself! The disciples had the same opportunity. Do you remember what Jesus said to the Twelve? “YOU feed them.” In response, the disciples explained that the crowd should be sent away to find their own meal. Jesus proceeds to feed the crowd, leaving the disciples as mere observers to the spectacular yet again.
This year, the community in which we live has needed miracles. People are hungry and struggling to make ends meet. People are lonely and anxious- looking for hope. Some are painfully aware of the inequities in our society that steal the dreams of children and strip away the dignity of their parents. When Asian Americans cannot safely walk our streets and children go to bed hungry in wealthy Bucks County, we know that people are desperate for the miraculous touch of Jesus. Do you hear the invitation of Jesus in this moment? “YOU feed them.” Those dry goods that you drop off at church, that check you put in the mail, the card you send, the meal you deliver, the call, the visit, the opportunity you take the risk to stand for justice… all moments when your fingerprints are side-by-side with those of Jesus in the simple miracles that make life beautiful. The fingerprints of Lenape Valley have made it into the homes of many this year. Yet, the need continues… as does the invitation of Jesus to get our hands dirty with acts of love. What a privilege to participate in what God is doing to heal a hurting world.
With you on the mission field,