You first saw the light of day yesterday, a Monday, November 21, 2016. But you first lit our day today. And boy, did you light it. The world is full of pretty babies and we’ve seen our share. After all, you are number nine for us. But I’ve gotta tell ya, you’re as beautiful as it gets, and it was worth the ride to hold you in our arms for the first of many times.
I should probably point out that you may have set some sort of world record for the most people holding a newborn in his first 24 hours. But there’s a reason. In addition to typical family – grandparents, aunts, and the like – you were born into an amazing faith community who has impacted, and been impacted by, your parents greatly. And many of those people who have prayed for you and been faithful friends or mentors for your parents were delighted to see you for the first time.
Whenever you hear the name “Beltway,” I hope you’ll remember it as a profoundly life-shaping place. Because, little man, it will have shaped your life far more than you will ever truly know.
The world you inherited continues to be a strange place. You just missed the latest presidential election, where a billionaire reality TV star won a very cantankerous, mean-spirited election. But now that he’s won, I would like to report that no one is saying ugly, hateful things anymore – everybody in America is “one nation under God” again.
I said I’d like to report that. Unfortunately, I can’t.
We live in a bitterly divided and hostile world. And yet we live in the light of the greatest Hope the world has ever known and the greatest Love we could possibly experience – if only people would receive it. Fortunately for you, my little friend, you have two parents who don’t just talk it or wish for it. They get it. And they live it. As you’ll see soon enough they fully intend for your life to be graced with the same faith, hope, and love that has transformed theirs.
Your Daddy is one of the most cheerful and passionate men you will ever know. He knows no apathy; he’s either all-in or nothing. As such he has opinions. Lots of opinions. Most of which are pretty good. Humor him on the rest. But I pray you learn to live with his passion. Meanwhile, you could do worse than follow the example of his love for reading, film and drama, and the human drama of athletic competition. And people… dear God, how he loves people.
Your Mommy is one of the most attentive, thoughtful, and downright brilliant people in your world. She could change the world in any of a dozen ways, but her way, at least for now, is to change the world through you and your brothers. And that starts from the day and way you were born. I’ll spare you the details. But let me just say, she has this way of making really hard things look really easy.
And the music – that heavenly music that greeted you? Here are the words:
You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
My fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
And I could stand and sing
I am a child of God…
That raucous little disturbance you heard? Yeah, that was your Grammy bringing “prizes” to your older brothers Jackson and Jonah. They got pretty pumped about that. And so will you. You’ll learn more about prizes later. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Over time you will meet other cousins, aunts and uncles, including the five boys (not counting your two brothers) who have preceded you in our family. Each is unique and delightful in his own way. And each, in his own way, is scrambling to keep up with Laura Kate, the firstborn. That’s quite a challenge, but I figure you’re up for it.
Your middle name – Abbott – was chosen long ago, and for good reason. It means “priest,” and reflects what our faith teaches about all who choose to follow Christ – that we are a kingdom of priests. We stand uniquely between a world of humanity in desperate search for life and truth and a God of love and grace who has spared nothing to give it. Your name calls you out to a lifetime of royal intercession. Represent the world to God, James, and God to the world. I can think of no more noble a calling.
Your first name – James – was ultimately chosen when your parents first saw you. It has a unique meaning – “supplanter.” Live up to your name and you’ll be an overthrower. You’ll beat the devil at his own game. But to do so, first you’ll have to face something of an overthrow of your own. And biblically you will stand on the heritage of Christianity’s first martyr and the half-brother of the Lord Jesus, who was known for his leadership and prayer life.
Though you were born yesterday, in a way you won’t understand until you have children of your own, we welcomed you into our world months ago, way back in April. That’s the other bit of heritage I want to tell you about. On that day your great grandfather was coming to grips with his impending death in a hospital and he heard you were coming. You, my priceless priest, stole his sorrow and replaced it with tears of joy, before you were ever born.
Now today, and for the rest of your life, you will carry his name. And by extension, you carry mine. To quote a line from a famous movie:
Earn this, James.
I’d say you’re already off to a pretty good start.
So welcome, little sorrow-stealing priest. We are joyful beyond words you are here.
Now let’s have some fun.
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