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Thank you those who noticed and commented on the long silence. “We missed you” is music to anyone's ears. Now, what to write about? Could be becoming a ‘diamond geezer’, or reflections on a celebratory trip to the States. Could be a wedding anniversary or the public enquiry on a footpath in Hethel (where?). But two children I'd never met, rushing out of their parents’ car shouting “Grandad”, took last week's biscuit. No, that last sentence is not misconstructed.

Our daughter and her husband are the third consecutive generation to adopt, and we're proud of them. After a grinding four-year process, their own delight shone out of their faces, and the children's joy at joining a new family was equally manifest. But why go this route, especially if you're fertile? Isn't adoption ‘second-best’?

Thus runs a common point of view. Yet adoption is at the very heart of the Christian faith. Paul tells us “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you … have received a spirit of adoption” (Romans 8.14 - and so on, to verse 30). Spiritually, this adoption restores the relationship that was spoiled when humankind decided to go its own way (Genesis 3.9-10, 23-24).

Further light comes from the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10.25-37). The lawyer opens by asking Jesus how he might inherit eternal life. Inherit! Paraphrase? - “How do I become a child of God?”

Jesus asks him to answer his own question, and affirms his response: loving your heavenly Father with all you've got is #1; loving your neighbour is all you need in second place. But the smart lawyer wants to tie God down, to limit the illimitable, to get Jesus to prescribe and to proscribe, asking, "Who is my neighbour?"

Jesus’ second question, at the end of the story, catches the man out with a brilliant reversal: “Who then was neighbour to the man?” It's not a question of law - who does God say I must love? It's a question of grace - who am I going to choose to love? That person becomes ‘my neighbour’. And the logic is impeccable: if I want to be a child of God, I want to bear his likeness, don't I? That likeness is threaded through with choosing to love without limit.

So these children become fully part of our family because we choose to make it so. Adoption second-best? Not if our daughter and son-in-law are following in Father's footsteps! Rather, it's a wonderful model of God's grace.

One final thought. Everyone has a biological link with their birth-parents, but ultimately children know their son- or daughter-ship because their parents love them. As any adopted child who has been rebuffed when making contact with a birth-parent knows, the love is much more important than the blood-tie.

The implication of all this is huge. Who is God giving you to love, at home, at work, at play? Choose to do it well.

Yours in Christ

Peter Nicholls

 

But two children I'd never met, rushing out of their parents’ car shouting “Grandad”, took last week's biscuit.

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