Today’s passage offers a portrait of overflowing joy in our divine adoption. It reminds us that the child in the manger comes to give us a new identity. When Paul writes to the Galatians, Gentiles are flocking to the fellowship. Some insist that new converts conform to Jewish laws, including circumcision. To this, Paul offers a ringing response: God sent the Son so that all might become children of God. Shaped by the Spirit working in their hearts, they are set free from all forms of slavery, including slavery to the law.
As he writes, Paul does more than just stress a key theological point. His words pulse with excitement. In the Greek language in which Paul wrote, his phrases are quick and rhythmic. Bible translators, ever faithful to the ancient manuscripts, rightly hurl in exclamation points. “Abba! Father!” Paul feels profoundly the theology he teaches. He has received a new identity. He is no longer a child of the law nor a child of the society around him with its perpetual conflicts, me-first leaders, and ever-increasing obsession with material rewards that soothe no inner pain and ultimately turn to dust. He is God’s child, enfolded in love. Amid his turbulent age, he is free to live the fresh, healing way of love he learns in Christ.
Paul’s joy invites our reflection as much as his theology does. What does it mean that we too have a new identity? From what does this set us free in our personal lives and in our own turbulent age? What can we let go of? And what are we now free to embrace? What liberations can we joyfully claim? As God’s adopted children, in what fresh, healing ways shall we dare to walk?
Loving One, today may we joyfully claim, and live, the freedom of being your beloved children. Amen.
As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we do so with cries of praise to God. Isaiah delights and rejoices in God, who will bring reconciliation to all nations. Psalm 148 declares that all of creation praises the Lord, for creation knows who formed and sustains it. Paul explains to the Galatians that God sent Jesus to redeem us, and as a result we may now call out to God as God’s children. In the Gospel reading, Luke sets the story of Jesus within the history of the Israelites. Both Simeon and Anna are devout people, filled with the Holy Spirit. They have been praying for God to send the Redeemer, and God gives them insight to recognize him as Jesus. Praise be to God for this indescribable gift!
Read Isaiah 61:10–62:3. How do you yearn for righteousness? How do the prophet’s words give you hope?
Read Psalm 148. Pause and consider the joy of God’s coming salvation for the whole world.
Read Galatians 4:4-7. Consider your identity as a child of God through Christ. What joy does this identity bring you?
Read Luke 2:22-40. How can you, like Anna, joyously proclaim the freedom and redemption Christ brings all of humanity?
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