Lectionary Year B
December 26, 1999
(JFC) A. DESCRIPTION OF AUDIENCE
The congregation is a small membership in a small county seat near Louisville, KY. It has substantial music, educational and mission programs well supported by the members and friends. They consistently number more than a hundred in worship. Their pastor is an outstanding exegete and preacher. She has been with them almost 2 years now. They give her 10 Sundays annual leave and as the Pastoral Associate, I get to preach those days. They are very receptive and appreciative of responsible pulpit work. They are as commercially inundated as most mainline denominations' members are.
(JFC) B. INTENDED GOALS
I hope to give the worshipers this particular Sunday some time to come apart and know who we are as God's adopted children.
(JFC) C. ADDRESS
The Year God's Way
Christmas' being the day before this sermon is preached. We're still there in yesterday's festivities and delights. Good. No problem. As it should be? Rerunning yesterday's delights has gotta benefit us, lift our spirits and remind us how good life is here these days. Yet looking beyond and even more broadly, a few questions arise. Perhaps today's Epistle Lesson can help us assess the end of a year and prepare us to journey on into the New Year. Worth a try.
A few years ago at the Seattle Special Olympics, 9 contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with the relish to run the race to the finish. All, that is, except one boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of , and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry. They slowed down and then they all turned around and went back. Every one of them. One girl with Down's syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, "This will make it better." Then all linked arms and walked together to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for 10 minutes. (Author Unknown, Submitted by Bob French from A 3rd Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul Copyright 1996 by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen)
Can we look back on 1999 with that kind of joy? How can we get that lovingly concerned? What'll it take?
God Redeems Us
We can realize, as today's text declares, that God redeems us. Remember the Green and Gold Bond Stamps from the 60s and 70s? Recall the gifts that could be selected at the Redemption Center? (Further reflections on experiences needed here.) Greek word (exagopazw) means, mostly, "to be freed from someone or something". It also features an almost equal emphasis on the "purchasing freedom from eternal punishment". The image of "purchasing" gets a large measure of what the process means (Bauer). The price of Christ's suffering and death paid for our freedom. Now, for us, it might mean we are freed from the disappointments of the past year, free from the failures, free from the mistakes, etc. .
God Adopts Us
For God to adopt us, we, again are the objects of God's unconditional love and divinely actions. Dave Thomas, of Wendy's fame, spoke at Georgetown (Ky.) College recently. He champions getting maternity leave for adopting parents. He says there are 600,000 children needing adopting in our country alone and that lack of maternity leave is many potential parents' reason for not adopting. God has no hesitation in adopting us. From the earliest of times (Exodus 4:22, Isaiah 1:2, Hosea 119 & Romans 9:25f) God has adopted people.
Gives Us An Inheritance
We are heirs in God's estimation. We receive an inheritance from God. Heirs according to the promise, Gal 3:29. Heirs of the Kingdom, James 2:5. Of the hope for eternal life, Titus 3:7. Heirs of salvation, Ephesians 1:14 and Colossians 3:24. The poet, Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801), wrote, "Say not you know another entirely till you have divided an inheritance with him." God has given us an inheritance, thereby, we can get to know God better, if Lavater is right. As we look back over 1999, visions of God's redeeming us, of God's adopting us, of God's giving us an inheritance will serve us well. Such visions will support us well as we venture into the New Year.
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