Even as the apostle Paul exhorts his readers in first-century
Galatia to remember the adoption of God that envelops all
hurts and abandonments, we bear witness to the truth that no
one is alone, that all are beautiful children of God, worthy of
being welcomed home. This passage proclaims that good news,
and I have learned this lesson a hundred times through the community
I founded called Thistle Farms, which serves women
who are survivors of trafficking, violence, and addiction.
On one of my recent speaking engagements, Lori, a resident
in our community, came with me. I love the joyous spirit she
brings to new communities around this country as we strive to
open housing for women who were traumatized as children and
on average hit the streets between the ages of fourteen and sixteen.
Recalling her place as a beautiful child of God was never
more poignant than on the night she knocked on my hotel door
late and asked if she could come in. I opened my door and asked
her what had happened. She said, “You won’t believe what happened.
I looked in the mirror, and I saw something beautiful.”
As she told her story I imagined that as the scales fell from her
eyes, she felt the arms of every person who loves and supports
her healing, and she realized that she was an heir to an inheritance
Love showed this young woman that she was no longer in
bondage to the chains of oppression and social evil that denied
her humanity and made her feel that the only worth she could
offer was the going price for her priceless body and soul.
As we sojourn through our lives, I pray that we remember
with Lori that we don’t have to remain in bondage to fear and
cynicism. We are heirs apparent to childlike wonder, idealism,
God, thank you for your redemption and adoption. What a priceless gift! Amen.
Ecstasy over the Christmas miracle binds these passages together with unrestrained joy over what God has done and over who God is. The God whom these texts celebrate is a God who reigns in strength and whose activity on behalf of humankind is timelessly ancient. As worshipers, we join in rejoicing over the coming of the messenger “who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Isa. 52:7). We also celebrate “the LORD, for he is coming to judge the earth . . . with righteousness, and . . . equity” (Ps. 98:9). Then a note of immediacy is struck by the focus on what God has done just now, in these “last days,” in which “he has spoken to us by a Son” (Heb. 1:2). The One who was present at Creation, the eternal Word, “became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14).
• Read Isaiah 52:7-10. Where do you see signs of God’s peace amid the world’s brokenness?
• Read Psalm 98. Where in your life has a new beginning come most startlingly from an ending?
• Read Hebrews 1:1-12. When you next celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion, re ect on how God has brought healing to your life.
• Read Luke 2:22-40. When have you been surprised by an inbreaking of God’s extraordinary love in an ordinary moment?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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