Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Three Word Wednesday: Adoption

Jeremiah 22:6

Today in her Three Word Wednesday Kristin Hill Taylor writes about Supporting Foster Families {and looking after orphans}. I've mentioned I like the discipline, the ease, and the appeal to creativity in using Kristin's prompt, though we can write to any trio of words. Kristin provided a graphic of James 1:27 that prompts us to help care for the needy, the vulnerable, the marginalized. During the era when James wrote his letter, humans who had no responsibly employed male to care for them existed in a particularly precarious situation. The reformer and theologian of grace Martin Luther famously did not like James' epistle, believed it did not belong in the canon, and included it in a group of seven NT books he considered antilegomena – spoken against – pretty much in the category of "leftovers."

Jesus tells us "To be saved? Keep the commandments. Keep covenant with all creation."

Churches since the protestant reformation have made a huge deal of our salvation by grace through faith in the atoning life and work of Jesus Christ. There tends to be a general feeling that Roman Catholics and Latter-day Saints emphasize good works more than most protestants do, yet when we glance across the map we find hospitals with names like Lutheran General and Presbyterian Central, (alongside RC and LDS) mainline protestant church-sponsored humanitarian organizations and missions and countless church-related colleges and universities that all help resurrect people from certain death into abounding life. Kristin's selected scripture from James correlates perfectly with one of my own faves from the prophet Jeremiah's speaking truth to power, in this case to King Josiah's son King Jehoahaz.
Jeremiah 22:15-16

"…Did not your father eat and drink
And do justice and righteousness?
Then it was well with him.
He plead the cause of the afflicted and needy;
Then it was well
Is not that what it means to know me?"
Declares the LORD.
Supporting Foster Families comes under the general categories of families and adoption. The nuclear family that in many ways is a late 19th century development is not at all prominent in the bible, yet (maybe in place of the conventional nuclear family?) the New Testament brings us Jesus of Nazareth who creates families where there were none:

• For whoever shall do the will of my Father who is in the heavens, he is my brother and sister and mother. Matthew 12:50

• And he answered and said unto them, my mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it. Luke 8:21

For last Sunday, the Day of Pentecost, the second RCL reading was from the apostle Paul's epistle to the Romans that tells us God claims us as family, chooses all of us to receive a divine inheritance!
Romans 8:14-17

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
Saul/Paul came from a Jewish background that celebrated the good news of liberation from death and slavery in the exodus from Egypt; as Christians we celebrate the gospeled good news of the freedom from slavery and death in Jesus Christ. The Spirit of resurrection God bestows in baptism is the creative Spirit of life that brooded over the unordered chaos at the dawn of creation.

To become adopted children of God means to live literally revolutionized (turned around) relationships in the new community resurrection creates. A long time ago I'd just checked into the hostel in L├╝beck; only two of us were in the bunk room, so we began talking. The other traveler announced she knew her parents wanted her because she was adopted! She then told me about the tremendous confidence and freedom being chosen and brought into their family as a daughter gave her. Does our adoption into God's family in Christ Jesus give us confidence and freedom? Does our belonging to the people of God liberate us to answer God's call to care for the needy, vulnerable, and the afflicted? Will we plead the cause of planet earth that has become exceedingly needy, afflicted, and fragile, mostly as a result of human neglect, violence, and complacency? Let's do it!

James 1:27
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