A Spirit of Adoption


July 23, 2017

Romans 8:12-25

Can you imagine what it would be like not knowing where you came from. Wondering everyday what your past may have been like and where your family was. These thoughts can run and even ruin your current life as you know it.

Saroo was born in India. His family consisted of his mother, an older brother, and his younger sister. If you are familiar with the caste system of India (levels of society, such as poor, middle class, and wealthy), I would not place them in the bottom tier. However, they would not be very far from it. Saroo and his brother, Gaduud, had to steal coal from passing freight trains just to get some milk. That is until one day when Saroo decides to accompany his brother to work one evening. Saroo is left waiting for his brother at the train station and falls asleep. When he wakes, his brother is still nowhere in sight and he ventures onto the loan train that is sitting at the station. Since he is still quite tired, he falls asleep, only to awaken once more and realizes that the train is moving. It continues to move for two days with him as the loan passenger and the doors locked.  They travel over 1600 kilometers, or 1000 miles.

After many struggles and challenges, Saroo is welcomed into a home with open arms and love that abounds, in Australia. In this action, he is adopted and throughout the rest of his childhood and into his early adult life, he has truly come to know what true love means. A love that came to him through adoption into a family that was foreign to anything he had known as a young boy in India.

This story comes from the 2017 Oscar nominated film, Lion. I encourage you to take the time to watch it and look for glimpses of God working throughout the story.

In our selection from Romans this morning, Paul tells us, “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption.” Saroo had many opportunities to be fearful of what may happen. He was provided for when it mattered most and he found rescue also when he needed it most.

As people of God, we are not called to bend our will to those that think they know better. We are not called to toe the party line. We are called, as followers of Jesus Christ, to proclaim the Gospel good news as we have heard it through our own actions and words. We are not to fall into the spirit of slavery. Through God’s love for all of humanity, and God’s reminder of that in Jesus Christ crucified, we are reminded that we are one with and part of God’s very own creation.

The language of adoption that Paul uses is powerful! Adoption is an act of grace. It is God speaking through our times of struggles and challenges and telling us that everything is going to be alright. Adoption comes to us as an act of love that is visible for all to see. To be adopted is to be welcomed into a place that is foreign, yet very accepting. If you grew up in the church, and have always heard of the stories of Jesus Christ, then this may not resonate for you. However, for those that have not experienced church, or have come back to the church, a story of adoption is one that you may just need to hear in a setting that is foreign.

I am sure that we all can name times where we have been touched by adoption in our lives. I come from a blended family where adoptions took place and love was given to all. Perhaps, you have some close friends that have grown their family through adoption.

Saroo does eventually make it back to his home town. It was through her love for him, that Saroo’s mother, Kamla never gave up hope that one day she may see her son again. After seeing him for the first time in 25 years, she said she was “’surprised with thunder’ that her boy had come back and that the happiness in her heart was ‘as deep as the ocean.’” This does not change how he feels for his adoptive parents. His love is for all.

The triune God feels the same way when we return home. Creation is eager for us to embrace the Holy Spirit. When we open our hearts and minds to the wonder and mystery that is God, we allow the Spirit to come in and direct and guide us. In this adoption, God does not promise there will not be suffering and labor pains. God’s promise to us is that we will be surrounded by the Spirit. We will find hope in the things that we do not see as we learn to wait with patience.

In this we are reminded that we are adopted by the Spirit to go out into the world and share this hope with everyone. It is in our adoption by the Holy Spirit that we are reminded that we are loved and fully accepted where we are. Regardless of our faults and insecurities. Despite the weeds that may be presently in our lives.

You know what? This also means that those we are quick to judge and set aside are also loved and fully accepted. This is the grace that comes to us without any requirements. It is this grace that fills in the voids. It is this grace that embraces us in the here and now and promises us the kingdom to come.

By Alex Steward

I am a husband, father, and pastor within the ELCA. I did not grow up in the church and thus come at this pastoring thing with an unique perspective.

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