AdopteesReading. Jan. 5th, Evening — Romans 15:7-13
Epiphany Day (January 6) — Matthew 12:14-21
Most of us don't know what it's like to be adopted. I have sometimes referred to myself as an orphan, only as a poor way to communicate the fact that both my parents are deceased. During the times I have been single, I have often been "adopted" by casual friends during the holidays. As such, I enjoyed the feast, but when presents were exchanged (i.e., at Christmas), I was not generally included.
Mind you, I'm very grateful to those people for including me in their celebration, but did feel a minor twinge of "left out" when I had no presents for folk there (thinking that if I bought for one, I'd have to buy for all), and there were no presents for me.
Very different experience when I was married, or now that I'm dating again. I buy for others, they buy for me. Really feel a part of. This feeling quot;part of", though not really associated with material goods, goes a long way toward feeling adopted by my hosts.
Now, most of us take our religion for granted. But one of the big controversies in the early Christian church was whether non-Jews (Gentiles) would be required to observe Jewish Law. Ultimately, it was decided that Gentiles did not have to follow Jewish Law. I suspect conversions would have gone way done if adult circumcision was part of the package.
Paul's image was that the Gentiles were being adopted into the family, through the saving grace of the Christ. And though he himself had scrupulously observed Torah, he did not believe it was right to require these adoptees to observe it. For one thing, they would always feel like outsiders; there would always be some little section of law they could be caught up on.
As we know, Paul's ultimate solution was to say that salvation was through faith, rather than through the Law. So, the Jewish segment of the early Christian community was as "free" from the Law as the adopted Gentiles.
I give thanks for my adoption into the household of faith.
I give thanks for the Law of Love written on my heart.
I give thanks for the freedom to fail without losing.
I give thanks for the grace to always begin again.
May it be ever so.
How may I better welcome the stranger? How can I best love the one who annoys me the most?