One of the things I knew I wanted to do as I updated my blog was to create a space where I could share my sermons, as sermon writing is still some of my favorite writing to do. So, if you love to read a good sermon, click on over to the sermon tab on denadouglashobbs.com and read away.
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The sermon below is one I have been wanting to preach for years as adoption is such a near and dear topic in my life. I hope this sermon blesses you in your reading as it blessed me in my writing.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
This passage is read after possibly the biggest day in the Christian year, a day in which we read the beloved Luke 2, sing carols, and celebrate the birth of Christ in the manger. It is a hard act to follow, isn’t it?
So, now we read and listen to what Paul has to say to the church in Galatia. Here in verse four of chapter four, we see Paul trying to sum up the incarnation to a group of Gentiles who would have no knowledge of the book of Isaiah or any of the other Jewish prophecies about the Messiah. How does one explain Christmas and the Messiah to a group of people who have never before heard of their need for one?
To compensate, Paul switches from talking specifically about the coming of the Messiah to another great Christmas theme, Family. Pretty much everyone understands what it means to be in a family, right? After all, that is how we all come into the world. Family is where we first find love and meaning.
Except Paul doesn’t just talk about any family. He speaks about one that is formed through adoption. That’s right, last week we had a birth narrative and this week we have an adoption story.
Let me tell you something important about myself and why adoption is near to my heart. I am a mom of two children. One that came to me through pregnancy and childbirth and one that come to me through adoption.
Now when I was a kid I remember adoption being kind of a dirty word. When my brother wanted to tease me he would sometimes tell me I was adopted. Because in those days that meant something bad. That you were less than. Second class. Somehow not as loved.
I am not sure how adoption got such a stigma in our land. Because in our experience it has meant a totally different thing than I once believed. When my husband and I turned thirty we made the choice to bring a baby girl from China into our family. We chose to make this child that once was of no relation to us our daughter. This was no small task. We filled out paperwork and met with social workers and decorated a nursery and filled out a will saying that this child would inherit an equal share of everything that was ours.
And then came the trip to China.
As fate would have it I was not able to travel to China as our travel date landed seven weeks after I had given birth to our son. A birth that felt like a miracle because we had never believed it was possible. Yet there was the infant face of our son proving what we once believed wrong.
So my son and I stayed in Georgia while my husband and sister- in- law flew off to China to experience another equally amazing miracle. I’ll never forget that phone call when I heard my husband’s voice telling me he was finally holding our daughter and how I also heard my daughter’s voice for the first time crying in the background. It was easily as miraculous as when I heard my son’s first cries, if not more so.
The two weeks my husband spent in China signing documents for the government of China and then more documents for our country, in all of that busyness, he heard one phrase many times from the people he ran into on the street.
“Lucky baby. “Lucky baby.”
I think it was the locals way of giving my husband their blessing in adopting a child from their land. And every time someone would tell my husband, “Lucky baby.” He would respond, “Lucky Daddy.” Because in choosing to bring our daughter into our family we received a huge gift of love. Just a few days after meeting her, my husband was cherishing and delighting in our daughter more than he ever dreamed possible.
That truth has only grown over time. Every year we celebrate the anniversary of our daughter’s adoption. What some families call Adoption Day we have always called Family Day as it was the day we became a family forever. We celebrate by doing something fun as a family having a special dinner together. As we observe this day, I am always surprised how with each passing year I have grown to love and appreciate my daughter more.
And I notice that not only has our love grown, so has our likeness. Each year I notice how she has picked up more of our habits, becoming compassionate and a bit of a neat freak like her father and generous and a lover of good food like her mom. Over the years I realize that this is part of inheritance as much as the worldly good she will receive. Because our daughter’s adoption was a miracle of someone who was once not family, becoming family.
Even though adoption can be a complicated story at times, it is the story that Paul settles on to deliver the good news . . . the good news that as Gentiles (non-Jewish people) we have been adopted into God’s family through the birth and death of Jesus Christ. Christ came down to earth to choose us. To pick us up and lift us up into the arms of our Heavenly Father.
Congratulations! You’re Adopted!
Now at this point we might rightly all look around at each other and say, “Lucky baby!” And that is true. The greatest gift we have ever been given is Jesus becoming flesh and dwelling among us so that we might be drawn into the family of God. So that we may be loved. So that we may belong.
But sometimes I wonder if God is up in Heaven looking down on us and saying back,
I think most days we do understand that we are lucky to be named as children of God. But we have a harder time understanding just how much God loves US, delights in US, God’s adopted children. We may secretly believe we are some second class citizen in God’s family, un-deserving of the full measure of God’s love and inheritance.
But that is not how adoption works. Adoption means that we are as much God’s child as anyone else. Adoption means God’s own Spirit lives in us and that we are being ever made into God’s own likeness. Adoption means that God watches us and gets tickled when we act with graciousness like God does. When we love big like God does. Adoption means we are ever growing in the presence and love of God.
But most of all adoption means family. That we belong together as a part of God’s own family, brothers and sisters through Christ.
Last week we celebrated the birth of Christ, but today I invite you to another great celebration.
Happy Family Day!
For being in God’s own family forever is indeed a cause to rejoice. Amen.