On Sunday July 20th I led worship at Bilton Area Chapel. The call to worship was based on Psalm 86 and our opening hymn was ‘Come ye thankful people come’.
After the opening prayers I gave a Children’s address although the children only came in briefly at the end of the service; it was as much for the benefit of the ‘adult’ children as we are all children of God. It talked about a poor lady who worked 2 jobs to support twins she had adopted from an even more deprived area. One of the twins was not academic, nor was he able to be quiet in class so he was educated in a special education group; however he graduated and worked in the sanitation department. His dream was to become a DJ when his gift of the gab would come into its own. He drove his brother mad as he practiced his spiel nightly for being a DJ.
He went regularly to try and get a job at the local radio station; finally his persistence paid off and he was allowed to do odd jobs for no pay. He began to be accepted there as indispensible, getting things the DJs needed and whenever he could, learning how the controls worked in the studios. His break finally came when one of the DJs was unable to continue due to over alcohol consumption and the head of the station asked him if he could cover, he never looked back; his natural chatty style won the listeners over and fulfilled his goal. He was so grateful to his loving adoptive mum and loved her so much that he wanted to give her a better house and life. He went on to be a successful broadcasting, politics, public speaking and television; all because he loved his adoptive mum. In the same way we have been adopted into the family of God through Jesus Christ and He calls us to be the best we can be as we grow closer to him. He will be with us as we grow through the ups and downs of our lives until we become full sons and daughters of God.
We then sang two choruses I have always loved, ‘Abba Father’ and ‘Father God I wonder how I managed to exist’ before the reading from Romans 8 v12-25 and a dramatised reading based on Matthew13v24-30, 36-43. We then sang a favourite hymn of mine; ‘There’s a wideness in God’s mercy’; I particularly love the verse which says; ‘for the love of God is broader than the measures of man’s mind; and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.’ It is one of the most reassuring hymns in the book I feel.
Paul reminded his readers that they had been adopted into God’s family and now could call God, Daddy, Abba Father as Jesus had done. Roman adoption was a serious procedure; 3 times the prospective adoptee was symbolically sold and bought back before it was accepted as a legal. Once the transaction was completed the adopted son gained all the rights of a legitimate son in his new family under a new father. He became the sole heir or joint heirs with siblings in his new family. All his past life and debts were all wiped out as though they had not existed. When a person was adopted there were 7 witnesses who could later swear that the adoption was genuine should any dispute arise later? However he did not come of age until his adoptive father died but he became his heir and was totally under the control of his adoptive father. For a believer it was the Holy Spirit, who was the witness to our adoption into God’s family. The old life has no more rights over us, our debts have been wiped out and we begin a new life as heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ. The believer did nothing to deserve that adoption completed through God’s amazing love and mercy.
Jesus told the parable of the Kingdom of God being like a farmer sowing good seed, but overnight an enemy sowed darnel, so that it would grow alongside the wheat. It was a crop in its early stage looked very similar to wheat, but it entangled its roots with the wheat so if as the workers of the farmer suggested they pull out the darnel that could bring the good wheat up to. No, the farmer told them to wait till harvest and then pull up the darnel and burn it and bring the wheat into the storehouse. It would be a common sight at that time, and the darnel had to be destroyed, as it caused dizziness and sickness.
Paul knew that despite being adopted into God’s family that did not mean that their sufferings and difficulties were over. He looked forward to the future hope of redeemed people being children of God. Sin and decay had not just infected people but the whole of nature. Those, who have received the Holy Spirit and come to know Jesus, already have a foretaste of what was to come. They will not experience that full redemption until the final judgment comes. Only when their bodies are set free at the resurrection can they become true sons and children of God. We share Christ’s suffering in order to share in his glory.
It is so easy to judge others but we cannot know the whole of a person’s life. Only God can see the complete story and then make a judgment. How does it feel to realise we have been adopted into God’s family? We are God’s children. Do we wonder why life is still such a struggle and why the judgment is being delayed so long? Why does accidental or random suffering persist? Only God knows. We may feel alone but Jesus is alongside us and watching and supporting us so that our lives might reflect his life and love to others. God loves us and wants everyone to come to know him and experience life in all its fullness so he gives us all our lives to meet him. Help us Lord to so share your love and acceptance with those we meet in our everyday lives so that they are drawn to you and become your sons and daughters too.
We sang ‘For the healing of the nations’ before a member of the congregation, Jean Clay led the prayers of intercession. Our worship closed as we sang, ‘Christ from whom all blessings flow.’