Adoption as lens for Scripture
Once one understands the importance of adoption and the opportunity it gives to preach the Gospel in a new key, one can quickly see the idea woven throughout Scripture. Which is of course ironic for an idea based on a word that is used directly only five times in three of Paul's letters (Romans 8, Ephesians 1, Galatians 4), but the doctrine of adoption actually undergirds a great deal and is present:
Adoption is hidden around every corner when our eyes are open to see it.
Opportunities to preach adoption
Adoption at Christmas: The true heir left in the orphanage
Here are some occasions when the Revised Common Lectionary puts adoption texts front and center:
January 1 (Name of Jesus) and August 15 (Mary, Mother of Jesus), every year - Galatians 4 is
January 3, 2016 - Second Sunday of Christmas - Ephesians 1 is appointed
May 15, 2016 - Pentecost - The adoption passage from Romans is appointed for the day
July 23 and 30, 2017 - Lectionary 16 and 17 - The Romans passages are split over two weeks
November 1, 2017 - All Saints - 1 John 3 is appointed, with the language, "we are God's children
December 23, 2017 - First Sunday of Christmas - Galatians 4 is appointed
Easter season 2018 - 1 John is the appointed epistle reading throughout Eastertide
May 27, 2018 - Holy Trinity Sunday - The later part of the Romans passages are appointed
July 15, 2018 - Lectionary 15 - Ephesians 1 is appointed
One of the most powerful adoption texts comes from John's Gospel:
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not
know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all
who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of
God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
The text often makes a couple of appearances in the Christmas season, both on Christmas eve and then on later Sundays of Christmas. The text invites an adoption sermon, and perhaps a deeper story that will preach on Christmas.
What if the nativity is basically the true heir of everything being left in an orphanage? Jesus is born into our world filled with all of us orphans, estranged and cut off from our true Parent. But as the heir comes and lives in the orphanage, the secret starts to get out not only of our fellow orphan's true inheritance, but that he intends to share that inheritance with his fellow orphans. The true heir of everything left as an orphan in Bethlehem, who manages to make the rest of us heirs too.