Yesterday we continued our exploration of Romans 8 in which Paul ,the author of the letter, contrasts the fear that enslaves humanity with the acceptance that comes from God’s adoption (Romans 8:14-15). The nature of this fear is best expressed by Ernest Becker in his work The Denial of Death:
“I think that taking life seriously means that whatever you do must be done in the lived truth of the evil and terror of life, of the rumble and panic underneath everything. Otherwise, it’s phony.”
The Bible’s antidote to this fear is Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross which has removed our legal status as sinners deserving condemnation and given us a legal status as sons deserving great wealth and honor. The use of the term ‘sons’ is intentional by Paul. In most ancient cultures, daughters could not inherit property. Therefore, “son” meant “legal heir” and was a status forbidden to women. But the gospel tells us we are all sons of God in Christ and are therefore his heirs. The work of God’s Spirit is to take this truth and massage it into our experience (Romans 8:16).
Perhaps like me on this Monday morning you need the Spirit’s help to experience God’s adoptive love, as it is the work of a lifetime to live as if we are loved. But the great truth of the gospel is that, as Henry Nouwen put it in his beautiful book The Return of the Prodigal Son, God’s love is a love that existed before any rejection was possible and that will still be there after all rejections have taken place.
“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” – Galatians 4:4-7
Celebration of Life
Elinor W. Ellsworth, “Ellie”
January 21, 1941 – September 12, 2023
Elinor W. Ellsworth, “Ellie,” peacefully passed away at the age of 82 on September 12, 2023 in her Waterford, CT home. Ellie is survived by her children, Christopher and Alexandra, along with four grandchildren, a great-grandchild, and her three siblings. Throughout her life, Ellie dedicated herself to serving others. Ellie was in the Diaconate at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, was a board member of St. Paul’s House, and volunteered with the homeless. Relocating to Connecticut during the pandemic, she walked the beach, gardened, and watched hummingbirds. She cherished adventures with family and friends and will be remembered for her vivacious spirit. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations to be made in Ellie’s memory to St. Paul’s House at sphnyc.org.
How to Read the Bible
Do you long to grow in your understanding of God’s word? Do you find yourself stuck when it comes to hearing from and applying God’s voice to your life? If so, we invite you to join us for How to Read the Bible, a three-week class designed to help us better understand scripture.
- Jan 29 | Asian American support group for young adults
- Jan 31 | Pastoral search weekly prayer
- Jan 31 | RWS Prayer Night
- Feb 1 | Questioning Christianity group
- Feb 3 | Celebration of Life for Ellie Ellsworth
- Feb 4 | RWS Membership Class
- Feb 7 | Intro to HFNY Volunteering session
- Feb 8 | How to Read the Bible
- Feb 11 | Volunteer Choir
- Feb 11 | David’s Farewell Celebration
- Feb 11 | Youth Membership Class
- Feb 11 | Souper Bowl