Agape: April 7, 2020

Agape: The 2020 Lenten Devotional for St. Paul's Episcopal Church

“[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” -1 Corinthians 13:7

Today, eleven years ago in the early hours of the morning, my son Daniel James Kibler was delivered by emergency c-section after I developed HELLP Syndrome in order to save both of our lives. I have spoken in previous devotions about the PTSD and emotional pain that arose from the circumstances of that week, but I want to share today about the incredible agape shown to me and my family during that time.

  • A parishioner of my former husband’s heard of Daniel’s birth and knew my former husband was out of town, so she raced down to Great Falls to be with me and hung out in the waiting room on the maternity floor all day in case I needed someone with me.
  • The church where my former husband was preparing to interview sent us flowers and a few members sent baby presents. We did not end up at that parish, but I have never forgotten their generosity.
  • My former husband’s parishioners sent so many flowers to me that every surface of my room with the exception of parts of the floor and bed were covered. We gave the best flowers to the nurses when we left, and the rest were flowers put on the altar on Easter Sunday.
  • Our ELCA bishop rushed to be at my side when my husband called the synod office to let her know. My first lucid memory after Daniel’s birth is of her stroking my hand and explaining to me gently that I had just had a baby.
  • My mom’s co-workers all over the world on multiple continents asked if they could pray for us. Their prayers spanned 5 continents and 3 major religions.
  • My Facebook friends all put me on the prayer lists of their churches and put out the word for their friends to do the same. Almost eleven years later, I still have people who contact me and tell me that they were praying for me at that time.
  • We were told by Daniel’s neonatologist that Daniel had an 80% chance of survival. My former husband wanted to baptize him, but I was terrified of doing it out of fear that something would happen to him if we did. (In my defense, PTSD and postpartum depression do not do great things to one’s reasoning.) My agnostic mother was the tie-breaking vote, reminding me that Daniel was a fighter and the baptism would be a celebration of that. We baptized him on April 10th, which was Good Friday. The pictures from the baptism remain favorites of mine, especially the one with my husband’s hand and my tiny bruised hand touching Daniel and praying for him.

Lord, thank you for the ways in which your people show love to others in times of crisis. Help us to remember that we all belong to each other and that we need to walk with one another in times like this. Amen.
-Jen McCabe

Daniel's baptism