“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home.” ~ Psalm 68:5-6a
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” ~ James 1:27
This coming Sunday, November 10, is Orphan Sunday. It is an opportunity for churches to be reminded of our call to care for the “least of these” in our community while bringing awareness to the growing number of orphans in the U.S. and around the world. As a way of acknowledging and participating in this day, we had our own Jon Morgan write the following blog post.
Sometimes when I listen to a sermon, or lecture, or presentation, etc… I will hear something really good and profound but, with the way that my brain works, it doesn’t really click or process until days, or even weeks later. This has recently happened to me again with a talk I heard at a family ministry conference. The speaker simply stated that behind every adoption there is always a tragedy. And, after bumping around in my brain for a while, this truth has started to take root.
As an adoptive parent, I need to look no further than my own living room. I cannot really imagine my family without the presence of my youngest two sons, but they, without a doubt, would not be a part of my family if there had not been horrible events that caused them to need to be adopted. You do not become an orphan under sunny circumstances. Tragedy befell them before they were even born and they were left orphans. Because of tragedy they needed an intervention. They required someone from outside their circumstances to enter into their lives. They needed a change to their story.
The great thing about adoption though is, while tragedy is part of my sons’ story and will forever be so, it does not define their story or who they are now. They are now part of a family. Through the act of adoption, the fatherless are now sons. One of my favorite Russell Moore sayings is that adoption is a past tense verb, and as I look at these two boys, I see simply my two youngest sons, not my two adopted sons who came into my family because of tragic circumstances. While that is true of them, it’s not all there is to them.
In fact, I don’t really need to look into my living room to be reminded of the lesson that my sons illustrate. I really don’t have to look past my mirror. None of us do. There is tragedy in our backgrounds. Our ancestor brought death and ruin to us all and left us orphans with no hope. That tragedy is forever a part of our story. But it is not the defining part of our story, or who we are, because of adoption. God, at great cost to Himself (another tragedy), allowed His son to be sacrificed, to redeem and rescue his fatherless, fallen creation and make us sons. If we are followers of Christ, this is our story. This is what defines who we are. Though we have tragic backgrounds, we are the adopted sons of God, with full inheritances – coheirs with Christ.
Orphan Sunday is a great reminder to us to remember the fatherless and how we, as the Church, need to be active in caring for the least of these. It’s also a great reminder that there is a tragedy behind every adoption but the story doesn’t end with the tragedy. Adoption is part of our story and points to THE story – the gospel. And that’s a story that never gets old.