“When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children” (Galatians 4:4-5).
I have used that scripture, which in the lectionary appears in the Christmas season, a couple of times for a probably unexpected purpose. I have spoken of how it pictures all of us as adopted children of God. One of the Bible’s most familiar verses speaks of how God “so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” (John 3:16). God has graciously redeemed us and brought us into the family. The first time I used the scripture was for a sermon I preached at the Assemblies of God church in Tennessee my family attended. I think it was in 1990.
It was especially meaningful because I was adopted as an infant. My father was in the Navy during my early years. When he was stationed in Pensacola, my parents sought to adopt a boy. (Here’s a tough question—guess who it was?) I don’t even remember being told I was adopted, so they must have let me know when I was quite young! There were books explaining what it meant, and I also remember seeing the paperwork showing the hoops they had to jump through to be approved.
Throughout my life, I knew there were people “out there somewhere” who were responsible for my being on planet Earth. I made an attempt at discovery following my experiences with brain cancer (that’s a blunt way to put it!), largely for medical reasons. I ran into an obstacle in that I was told I would need to have the records unsealed. I must confess, it was never a burning issue for me. Maybe the fact that my childhood was primarily a happy one kept me from feeling the need to do a search.
However, my wife Banu would sometimes suggest I make a real effort. As time went on, she added to the suggestion the idea that “out there somewhere” someone might be wondering whatever became of me.
[During a visit to our place in late summer 2018, left to right: my sister Nikki, her daughter Micalah, Banu, and my birth mother Sherry.]
Lo and behold, in February 2018, I received a letter from the Children’s Home Society of Florida. There was a cryptic sentence. “The purpose of our contact is to pass along information that is confidential in nature.” Banu and I both knew what that meant.
Long story short, my birth mother had tracked me down! It turned out I also had a brother and sister I knew nothing about. We began doing video calls, and she, my sister, and her daughter (my niece) visited us later that summer. In January of the next year, Banu and I made the trek down to Pensacola. It was a wonderful time, although there were a couple of days when the high temperature barely reached 40 degrees.
As for the circle that has been established, Banu and I will be making our second visit in a few weeks. It has been since February 2020 since we last left the state of New York. Something called Covid came along. Although truth be told, we still could made have a trip out of state somewhere.
Now, (if you’re still with me after that autobiographical bit) back to Galatians, there are a couple of verses following that open up a vista of meaning: “And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God” (vv. 6-7).
The Spirit within calls out to the Lord, “Abba.” Sometimes that word is infantilized to mean “Daddy,” but it is so much more than that. It is a warm, loving, and intimate term of endearment.
Our long journey of search and exploration is over. We have come home. The circle of life is complete.
[During dinner at Lambert’s Cafe, home of the “throwed roll” (part of the evening entertainment) right to left: my brother Steve, his wife Teesha, their daughter Haley and son Zach, and again Nikki and Sherry, and of course, me. Note: Steve and I didn’t plan on wearing the same color.]