A New Thing

This morning’s devotional is offered by Pat Cox. 

Forty years ago, we had twenty-one little boys in a big two story cottage on the campus of Oxford Orphanage. In every way, these 10, 11, and 12 year old 3rd-5th graders were “our” boys.

Every weekday was pretty much the same and only varied according to the time of year as well as the time of day. If you lived near the orphanage, you remember well the ringing of the campus bell high on the water tower that could be heard several times each day pretty much throughout the town of Oxford. It didn’t take anyone long to learn the routine. And just in case one forgot, the children were quick to remind us of what they (or we!) should be doing.

When we arrived at the orphanage, Susan and I had been married about eight years. The one thing, however, we did not have was a child of our own. Looking back now I don’t seem to recall a lot of time spent wondering if we ever would or why it hadn’t happened yet. We were busy with study hall each evening along with devotions with our kids, a snack time and some television. We loved those little boys and we realized that they loved us as well.

Almost two years with those boys passed pretty quickly and my third year of seminary came to an end and the full time chaplaincy position came open on campus. Then, in the spring of 1981, after surgery in which Susan’s doctors told us that it would “happen quickly or not at all” we were expecting a baby.

On Friday, December 18, 1981, our baby boy arrived in the early morning hours at Maria Parham Hospital in Henderson. At the orphanage the children were leaving that day at noon for Christmas vacation with family or visiting family resources. After things settled down at the hospital, I hurried back to campus to speak with as many children as I could wishing all a Merry Christmas. When most had gone and I went home to finally get a shower and a nap there in the middle of our living room was the school Christmas tree complete with child-made decorations and construction paper garlands. What a welcome surprise! In our preparation for the arrival of a new baby, getting a new home ready and a nursery painted and all that goes with that, we were just too tired to think of a Christmas tree that year. But we will never forget that Charlie Brown Christmas tree as one of the best ever! And although our Christmas baby came one week early the timing could not have been more perfect.

“Behold, I am about to do something new. Can you not perceive it?” –Isaiah 43.19

These words from the book of the prophet Isaiah are among the words that signal change to God’s followers, a change in the way they see and hear God. These words herald some new way of God’s being with us. They linger in our ears and on our lips as we enter the season of Advent, the season of waiting, the season of listening to and listening for the Promise of the Babe of Bethlehem to be made and fulfilled once again.

Can you perceive it? We hope when all is said and done we can say yes this year along with Mary and Joseph. We hope too that the glory of the Lord shines round about us some too, perhaps even enough to make us sore afraid and then send us off to try and describe it to someone. We hope that when the angels begin to sing we can join in with as much joy as we can muster. We hope that when something happens again this year we might perceive it.