What a wonderful gathering of people we have today under this soaring roof!
The Holy Spirit has worked some amazing things to bring us together today. Acknowledging that Spirit, please look around you, and quickly introduce yourself to anyone sitting near you whose name you don’t know.
It would be really awkward to get adopted and expect to be a family with people whose names you didn’t even know, right? Since our Sunday worship assembly is growing steadily, we really need to work at getting to know one another, because we are called to be a family of faith.
Did you catch that word adoption in the second reading from St. Paul? I’m guessing that for some of the children here especially, your ears might have popped when you heard that word. We are blessed to have with us several families formed by adoption.
For any of you, children or adults who have experienced adoption, what did you think when you heard that word read today? What does it mean to be adopted?? How does it feel?
We all need to know something of it, because in this letter to the Romans St. Paul said that we received a spirit of adoption…that makes us cry “Abba”, or “Dad”. The way you call when you know that you are loved, and the person you call for will be there for you when you need them. And here we today we are each right where we were meant to be, in the loving embrace of the one who chose us, who called us by name, and who brings us home.
Of course not many of us have experienced the kind of adoption in childhood that some of you have. And we don’t forget that before you were adopted, there was loss and sadness and maybe some of stress before your new family felt right, before you could relax and trust that it was permanent.
But St. Paul DOES mean that our adoption as children of God is something VERY life changing – different, but not less life changing than to be brought to live in someone’s home, and to make that home our own.
Here at Holy Wisdom we are may be the only church anywhere who prays “Holy One Our Only Home,” instead of “Our Father who art in Heaven.” Do you know that version of the prayer? We pray “Our Only Home” to remind ourselves that we are indeed brought into God’s Own Home as members of God’s own family. Jesus teaches us to welcome everyone into God’s Home. Just like he did. We warm up for that mission by welcoming one another here in this circle, at the time we offer Christ’s peace.
Sometimes, as we did a few weeks ago for Svea, we formally welcome someone into our faith family through baptism. When we did that, our whole community of witnesses made a promise to “adopt” her into our hearts and prayer. Baptism is a very special and joyful time! And we said we’ll be here to love and support her and her parents, throughout her life. Even when she’s a wild toddler and later a feisty teenager.
Other times, and much more often, we welcome people who are new toMadisonto come pray with us; we also welcome people who didn’t feel at home anymore in their former church and remind them that God’s Own Home is very big, and there is a place for everyone. Some of the people who join us may not even have a real home at this time¸ and others may not feel safe or loved in their home. We welcome them too, offering friendship and listening carefully for ways in which we might be of assistance.
And we offer love and companionship to those who are struggling with illness, or have lost a loved one.
Even when there’s no particular hardship, sometimes we all just need others to help us feel at home on this awesome huge planet – in 2012 – while Big Events happen all across our city and the world. Sometimes it is hard just to remember that the God who creates us also provides for us all that we need today.
In all of these ways the Holy Spirit of Wisdom and Adoption helps us create a welcoming and supporting community for the people She sends into our lives, whether we meet them here, at school or work, or elsewhere. No, we don’t have to be born again, and our parents don’t have to die for us to be born of the Holy Spirit into the family of God.
The Spirit blows where it chooses, it says in the Gospel of John and WHOOOSH!! Here we all are; brought together under this one roof to the Praise and Glory of God. Holy, Holy, Holy we will sing later – as is written in the first reading from Isaiah – the Earth is full of the Glory of God.
But, the thing is… You really have to be looking to see the Spirit working in our midst. Sometimes it’s so obvious!
On a Friday a few months ago, a member of our community told me she had been thinking and praying about sharing her home with someone who needed a place to stay awhile. She said “if you meet someone with maybe one young child, let me know and they could stay in my extra bedroom.”
Well the next Wednesday I met a very pregnant woman who was homeless and had no where to go. She was very pregnant, carrying twins. And, her doctor had told her she should be resting in bed until they were born, because she was developing a condition dangerous for her and the babies. The shelter for homeless families wouldn’t let her in, because she didn’t yet “have” the children along. She was scared, sitting in the sun dehydrated, and getting sick.
I called my friend from this Assembly and asked if she wanted to meet the woman, and Anne said “No, I don’t need to meet her. Just bring her out. She can stay with me.” So over the past 3 months, with Anne’s hospitality and contributions from some of you our community has “adopted” this mom, and her now healthy 2 month old twins, providing diapers and money for other things they need.
Sometimes its not so easy. When we hear that hundreds of people are homeless in our community, we know we can’t just move everyone into our homes. So we have to do the slow, sometimes boring or frustrating work together to convince people with power that we want to live in a welcoming city – and we’re willing to help.
When someone we know loses their job or struggles in school or with a physical or mental illness, the work of the Spirit may be hard to see, and we REALLY have to keep a keen eye to see how we can offer – or accept – the support needed at that time. Whatever happens, we your faith family pledge to be here for you at those times.
And sometimes – I think the Holy Spirit just has a great sense of humor!
Driving here, we always keep a watch out for the Sand hill cranes that sometimes can be seen in the cornfield or prairie as we bend the curve to the monastery. Last Sunday we didn’t see them coming as we came, so as I stepped out from the chapel I was looking around. And, just outside the door I met: Noelle! A young woman with long dreadlocks I hadn’t seen before, she was happy to be here. She and a friend had been invited to join us and gotten a ride from someone they met at the YWCA downtown to join us. When I met here, I realized that the person who gave Noelle and her friend an invitation and a ride here had made a bridge acrossLakeMendota, and I was happy too.
Last night I stepped out of the east YMCA to walk to the parking lot and I met: a pair of sandhill cranes and their chick! I laughed, because I was reminded that I often don’t see what I’m looking for because I don’t expect to find the thing or the person or the answer in the places I usually look.
You just don’t know, So its important that we cooperate with that Spirit by keeping our eyes and ears open. What is happening around us that either needs our help to come out well or can offer unexpected hope and possibility to those who seek to live in God’s home on this earth?
It’s not like God adopted so many people that there isn’t enough love or resource to share among us all.
St. Paulwrote to in his letter: we are adopted and are co-heirs with Christ Jesus. What is an heir?? It is the child claimed by the parent who says: EVERYTHING I HAVE IS YOURS! God, who loved Jesus her own Child so much, is saying I LOVE YOU JUST AS MUCH! NO favorites!! ALL that love is for you. What a wealth we have to share! Our inheritance of love and forgiveness, will never run out. We are wealthy beyond measure, and every time we break and share bread of life we are reminded that each of us has a share in
All the life, belonging, and joy Jesus gave us as his sisters and brothers. Let us walk through God’s wide home this week in deep gratitude and confident hope.
Let us pray:
That people living in violent places around the world will be kept safe, and that their leaders may be moved by God’s Holy Wisdom to build nations and cities of justice and progress for all,
For all of the people ofWisconsinin this week. Let us pray for full and truthful participation in the elections, and a future of civility and shared concern for the well-being of all who live here.
Loving God, we are wrapped in the arms of your constant love – So we know you hear us. We your children offer these prayers with trusting hearts, in the name of Jesus your own child, our brother and redeemer. Amen.