Sunday, June 7, 2009

Children of God

Grace and greetings.

The funerals for the young couple that died last week are almost over. Friday, we had the funeral for Scooter, who had done the shooting. Tomorrow we will have the funeral and burial of Martha. I am still not sure what I will be saying tomorrow, but I pray that it fills the need and speaks of God's love for us.

I have included my message from tonight's service. As it deals with adoption and the accidents of birth, one person suggested using parts or all of it tomorrow since Martha was adopted, as many are in the North Slope. We will see if I use it or not. Anyway, here is my message from tonight...

“Children of God”
Romans 8.12-17

This past week as people in the group in the internet were discussing this passage, they we attracted by the phrase, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear but you have received a spirit of adoption.” As they were telling of stories of individuals that had been adopted or knew of somebody adopted, for they did not know too many people around where adoption took place. Then I wrote, explaining my observation here in Barrow, and I am sure that it is true in most of the indigenous cultures, that adoption is a common place event, affecting most of the families here one way or another. Not only that, but with the adoption, the person is part of BOTH families, the birth family and the adopted family. Then another person commented that she experience the same thing with the Inuit people in Northern Canada. There are many things that the dominate culture of the “white European decent” can learn from the Native cultures, particularly when it comes to dealing with extended family.

In the passage from Romans, we hear that by the Spirit, we are adopted into the family of God. I personally have a problem with that statement. The reason I have a problem is that before anything else, there was God. God formed the chaos into Creation and blessed it. God created us in God’s image and blessed us. So even at the very beginning of time or at the time we were in our mother’s wombs, we were already in the image of God, we were already called by God, we were already in the Family of God, and God continues to create and bless.

There are many times that we forget who we are, and become wrapped up into the chaos of the world around us. We lose the voice that speaks to us of God’s love and God’s inheritance. We abuse the gift we have and need to turn again and remember who we are, that we are the Family of God.

A famous preacher, author and retired seminary professor, Fred Craddock tells of a time when he and his wife were eating at the Big Bear Inn in eastern Tennessee. While they were waiting for their meal to arrive, an older man, about 80 sauntered over to their table and said, "Good evening. Y'all on vacation?" "Yes," said the Craddocks. As they talked with the man, the subject of Fred's occupation came up. It's always interesting to see how people will respond when they find out you are a pastor! When the stranger learned that Fred taught at a seminary, he said, "Oh you teach preachers! I have a story about a preacher," and the man pulled up a chair. The old man said, "I was born back in these mountains. My mother was not married, and the reproach that fell on her, fell on me. The children at school had a name for me and it hurt a lot. During recess I would go hide in the weeds until the bell rang. When I went to town with my mother, the men and women would stare at her, and then they would look at me. It was a painful time. I guess I was in 7th or 8th grade when I started to go hear a preacher. In a way he frightened me, and in another way I was attracted. When he spoke, he thundered. I was afraid that people would say 'what's a boy like that doing in church?' so I would go in just in time for the sermon and then I would rush out. One Sunday, however, some women lined up and I wasn't able to get out. I began to sweat and get cold and I wondered, 'Oh no, somebody's going to say to me, what's a boy like you doing in church?'" Just then I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked out of the corner of my eye and saw the preacher! I thought to myself, 'Oh no, he's going to guess.' The preacher looked straight at me and stared into my face. And then he said, 'Boy, I know who you are and I know who you're father is. You're a child of.... you're a child of.... you're a child of God. I see a striking resemblance!' Then he patted me on the shoulder and said, 'Go claim your inheritance, son.'" At that, the old man got up to leave. Fred Craddock asked, "What's your name, sir?" The old man turned and said, "Ben Hooper." Ben Hooper who had served as Governor of Tennessee for two terms!

We are of two families, one of Spirit and one of Flesh. God created us to be in the world around us, but not to be of the world. Jesus, born of the Spirit and Flesh, showed us how to go about our lives without getting caught up in the world around us. God has bestowed many gifts upon us; though sometimes we luck out with the families that we are born into, we are all of the family of God. Like Ben Hooper, go and claim your inheritance.

Alleluia and Amen.

Peace and blessings.