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Getting Ready for Sunday by the Rev. Andrew Ray

2nd Sunday after Pentecost

1 Kings 8:22-23 ,41-43

Galatians 1:1-12

Luke 7:1-10

My wife, Julie, and I years back went to a rescue shelter to adopt a dog. I don’t know if you have been to a place like that. You walk in there and the dogs know why you are there and they also know that they want to leave. The chorus of a hundred dogs all pleading with us to take them home was overwhelming. It breaks your heart. It really does.

We did a loop around the room of hundreds of dogs and picked out three dogs. From the three dogs chosen, we had a little interview with our top choice in a side room. We took Angel home. Her life was changed at that point and ours, too. Angel was a greyhound mix and slowly with love, care, and food went from being a sad, frightened, shaking little dog into a confident, loving, and extremely fast dog.

We adopted Angel because we wanted to. God has adopted us because he wanted to. He didn’t chose us for Himself because we were so good looking, or because of our money, our good pedigree, or our wisdom. God destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will. He adopted us because he wanted to and he could through the sacrifice and obedience of Jesus Christ. He changed our name to his own and took us home.

Do adoption agencies interview and screen the person being adopted or the people adopting?  The person being adopted is not screened.  Their need is the reason they are to be adopted.  We, too, are adopted by God's grace and we had great need.  God adopted us because he wanted to. 

Do adopted children inherit less than natural born sons and daughters? Not in God’s plan. There is no difference in inheritance. We are coheirs with Christ. Adopted sons are treated as equals and inherit all that the Son inherits. There is always room for more in this house. We will inherit what Jesus inherits including a new body, a new earth, the presence and love of God, the fruits of the Spirit, and the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. Adoption grants us the knowledge that I am loved by God, the knowledge that God has forgiven me, and a hope for the present and future of a great inheritance in Christ.

Israel in scripture is given the title “sons of God.” God chose Israel to be his own. Israel was claimed as Yahweh’s people and summoned to live as those who share his holy nature.   Israel struggled with their calling and turned away from God. Israel then awaited in hope a messianic king who would enjoy a special relationship with God embodying obedience and loyalty to God. For the Christian, this hope was realized in the person of Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection.[1] By our faith in Jesus and his work on our behalf we are given right standing to become sons and daughters of God. Through Christ, God adopts into his family and we all can become his sons and daughters.

If there is a theme to the readings for this week it is that God desires all people from every nation to worship and know Him. We begin in 1 Kings where King Solomon’s line has been adopted into God’s reign on the earth. King Solomon invites Gentiles (those who aren’t Jewish) to pray to the God of Israel and encourages Israel to be a light to the nations. In Israel’s founding, we see God’s desire for the nations of the world to know Him.

Later, in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, Paul warns the first church in Europe against teaching requiring them to keep all aspects of the Jewish law. [2] Paul argues for justification (right standing before God) is by faith not by following the Torah. He argues that Jew and Gentile are now one by faith in Christ.

Finally, in the Gospel from Luke, we see Jesus affirming the faith of a Gentile centurion setting a trajectory that salvation is for the Jews and Gentiles. The good news of Jesus is to spread to all nations, all people, and all tongues. Faith in Jesus becomes central for everyone and open to everyone.

Do you realize you have been adopted into God’s family?  Can you start living into this reality? Do you see the theme of God’s desire for all nations to know him in these scriptures? 

[1] Sinclair B Ferguson, David F Wright, eds., New Dictionary of Theology (IVP, 1988), 652.

[2] F.L. Cross,, ed., Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press, 1997), 649.

The Rev. Ray is an assisting priest at St. Paul's in Prosper

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This is a blog of essays meant to prepare parishioners for an upcoming Sunday reading.