“Children of God”

Maybe you saw the story. It came across my newsfeed about ten days ago. The headline was guaranteed to capture attention: “We found a baby on the subway – now he’s our son”.[1]


The disciples examine the fresh wounds on Jesus's body after the resurrection

1 John 3:1-7

April 18, 2021

Dr. Todd R. Wright


Maybe you saw the story. It came across my newsfeed about ten days ago. The headline was guaranteed to capture attention: “We found a baby on the subway – now he’s our son”.[1]


It happened just after rush hour in late August 2000. Danny Stewart was late for dinner with his partner when he saw what he thought was a baby doll in the 14th Street station. He remembers being puzzled why anyone would leave a doll on the ground. Then the baby’s legs moved.


Danny called 911.


That set off a chain of events that led to a swift, and surprising, adoption, by Christmas!

 

I think the story caught my eye, in part, because our passage from 1 John is about adoption – our adoption!


As I mentioned last week, John is writing to his community of faith, a community in crisis, split by issues that threaten to leave its members feeling like orphans – alone and abandoned.


The conflict, whether about the nature of Christ, or the power of sin, or lack of love, has left everyone raw and tender. It has led to people avoiding one another. Maybe even name-calling!


In response, John goes back to basics. He reminds his listeners of this truth: they are children of God … a mix of divine love and will, with a pinch of joy thrown in like spice!


But let’s be clear. They are adopted.

 

That means there was a time when they were like the baby abandoned in the subway.


His umbilical cord was still partially intact, so he was young and vulnerable.


And he was going to need a new source of nourishment.


And a name.


And parents who would claim him and care for him, love him and protect him,


who would tell him his story and promise to never walk away from him.


John is saying that God has given us all of that, just like Danny gave it to baby … Kevin.

 

It sounds like a fairy-tale, but the truth is that there was conflict. Danny’s partner, Pete, wasn’t interested in adopting: “I was happy the way things were. I didn’t want my life to change. We had no money, no space. I was angry.” But when the baby squeezed his finger, Pete says, “It was like he found a pressure point in my finger that opened up my heart.”


Pete was the one who made a picture book with the story of Kevin’s discovery – a book Kevin loved reading every night at bedtime … even before he realized it was his own story.


And it is Pete who testifies, “I did not know that this level of deep love existed in the world until my son came into my life!”

 

I am telling you this story for the same reason John was using adoption language.


We all need to know that we are children of God, loved and claimed, nurtured and established, by the One who found us when we were lost.


We all need to be reminded that conflict doesn’t have to be the end of the story.


And we all need be part of a family that sits with us and retells the story over and over, so we will know who we are and so that we will grow empathic and kind, like Kevin. Amen


[1] story by Lucy Wallis, 4/4/21, see 'We found a baby on the subway - now he's our son' - BBC News
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