Anyone who has ever had small children in their lives, knows how sweet and wonderful it is to have a small child raise their arms toward you so that you can pick them up.  The look of longing and desire that comes across their faces is so real, especially if they are in pain or in need; and sometimes it’s an occasion of pure joy for the child and for the one who is being reached for.  Those are certainly some of the best moments life has to offer.

The image of a child reaching for a beloved adult ran through my mind as I read our reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans.  Paul speaks of our being adopted as children of God, and as children, our spirits join with Jesus’ Holy Spirit as we cry out to God, “Abba, Father”.  As children of God, our cry of Abba is one of deep love and intimacy.  We are not reaching toward a cold, impersonal God who knows nothing about us, but rather, as a small child reaches towards someone they love, we too, reach toward the One who loves us more than we can ever imagine; Our God knows each of us deeply, and intimately, and takes great joy in reaching towards us to embrace us as cherished, beloved children.

The Spirit of God lives within each of us; and it is that Spirit that helps us to move in God’s world to do God’s work.  There was much in Paul’s world that caused pain and suffering; Paul speaks of the earth’s birth pangs, and that the earth would be made free from its bondage to decay… what a powerful image that is; there is so much in our lives and in society and the world that leads us to physical and spiritual decay; the search for happiness in things that do not matter… money, power, sex, addiction… any of those whether on a personal level or a national level, lead down a path of absolute destruction for us and for those around us… 

But we don’t have to be ruled by those things; we are adopted children of God, heirs of the kingdom of God… we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit so that our search for happiness is simple; we know that it is God alone that fills those places of emptiness that we all have in our hearts… but if we put aside our pride and greed and whatever else stands in the way, when we reach for God, our desires and needs are fulfilled beyond what we thought was possible.

So, we are adopted children of God… adopted into the very life of God through Jesus… and in us, God’s Spirit dwell… so, now what?

It means that it’s time to get to work.  The world will continue to head towards decay unless you and I let the Spirit within us do its work.  You and I have to listen, we have to put our trust in the hope that God will indeed act; but we also have to hope that we will be inspired to act;  this life and this world were gifts from a God who loves without limit; that kind of love extended towards us is what propels us into the world to act on behalf of the world that God loves.   If we are paying attention when we worship, when we pray, when we read scripture, then God’s Spirit should stir within us prompting us toward some action to lessen the pain around us.  And here’s the thing; the Spirit dwells in all of us; doesn’t matter what our political views are, what we look like, what our favorite color is;  God’s Holy Spirit is delighted to dwell in each of us, and we don’t have to agree on anything that the world might try to divide us with; all we have to do is agree to follow the Spirit’s leading, follow the example of Jesus by loving all whom we come in contact with, and the things that divide us will no longer be important.   And who knows, as we work together, side by side, maybe we will learn something about each other; maybe we will understand what drives us apart and search for ways to lessen the divide.  It’s hard to focus on issues that divide us when we are working together on a common cause to help further the kingdom.

May we all rejoice in our adoption as children of God; may we find joy in reaching towards God who is Abba, the One who loves us and knows us more than we can love or know ourselves or each other… may our hearts, souls and minds be on fire for the work that the Spirit is leading us towards as individuals and as a community; may we always celebrate the world that God loves and may we love all God’s people…in the words of Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, “All means all”.  Love is our inspiration, and love is our work… So let’s get inspired, let’s get to work…