When I perform wedding ceremonies for couples who are creating a blended family, I often help couples speak vows to the children. These vows often are promises to love, respect, honor and be faithful to provide and protect these kids as if they were their own.
A few weeks ago, as I was facilitating a vow like this for a groom who was becoming “dad” to a nine year old girl, the power of the moment overtook me. As I stood behind the groom quietly prompting him with the vows that he had written to speak to the little girl, we all were surprised by what happened.
As the groom handed the gift of a necklace that was being placed on her neck by her mother, the bride, the girl broke down and cried. She was overwhelmed by this kind of acceptance and love from a father. In essence, in that moment, she was being adopted by him as his own, and the presence of the Holy Spirit was so heavy, even I choked and was rendered speechless. It was as holy of a moment as I have ever experienced. I had to regain my composure quickly to continue to squeak out the words prompting the groom to speak out. As soon as the vow was finished being spoken, I walked away to give this new family a moment to embrace. There were no dry eyes in that small group of family and friends. After about two minutes of trying to compose ourselves, we finished the wedding ceremony and celebrated at the reception.
This picture of our Heavenly Father adopting us as a His sons and daughters is a powerful glimpse at His love for us. In this moment in north Chico on a brisk Saturday afternoon, the reality of how loved and accepted I am by the Heavenly Father hit home in a new way. As His sons and daughters, we are accepted and loved unconditionally. I am praying that the Lord will continue to teach me by His Spirit how to embrace this truth more and live out of its powerful reality.
When I think about Joseph, the man who raised Jesus and took Mary to be his wife, I think about one who adopted a son that was not his own. We know from the Bible that Mary and Joseph had other sons and daughters after Jesus was born, but it started with an adoption, in a stable, in a city that was not their hometown. Joseph made a choice to take Mary as his wife, and then made a choice to raise and nurture Jesus as his own son.
At this Christmas season, it is my prayer that we will realize in a new way that we are his loved sons and daughters. I also would love for us to grow in our ability to embrace others with this same spirit of adoption. I want to choose to love and make sacrifices for others. I want to come along side others and love them where they are, no matter what. When we are at our best as a church, we are adopting others into relationship as fathers and mothers, ones who have a heart to nurture and accept sons and daughters.
May the revelation of the love of the Father be delivered to you anew this week!
Merry Christmas my friends!