“God sets the solitary in families.” (Psalm 68:6)
The first part of this post highlighted feelings about a place, which feels to me, “more like home than home itself.” This has application to a plethora of dynamics about the Christian life, and mission.
It’s obvious connection to me late last night was my thoughts on adoption. Adoption is something that happens to us, not something we can initiate on behalf of ourselves. Consequently, it is something we can do to/for others. Adoption is a term used by the writers of scripture to describe God’s embrace of people into the family of God. It is God’s embrace of us in the fullest sense of acceptance. This truth should be a model of our mission as well.
In his book, The Celtic Way of Evangelism, George G. Hunter III outlined a model of mission apparently practiced by Saint Patrick. Patrick set up on the edge of town; accepted the poor, the destitute, the mad, and the disenfranchised into his community, and saw explosive growth occur from this gracious work. Simultaneously, social justice and evangelism were accomplished, and this happened in a context of adoption. Those who were alone found a new family in the strange new fringe family on the edge of town.
We are called to adopt the lonely around us. We are the new home for the homeless hearts. If we can behave in this manner to the highest degree of our capabilities, we become the hands, the feet, and even the heart of our Father, Who reaches out through us to the disenfranchised. It is what God has done for us, and God’s people have extended this same acceptance to many of us. We can not allow this millennia long growth of the family of God to stop with us. We too, must pass it on. It can be done in simple ways: an invitation to dinner for someone with no family nearby, a regular stop at the bar where you know a man sits by himself daily, stopping to talk to the person who sits on the same park bench every day, inclusion of the co-worker who eats lunch by themselves…these are simple things that model the heart of adopting others into your world. These are the simple things that change the world around us.
Last night I mused on my place with the people of Wales, whom I love deeply. Just as I would never assume to call myself Welsh, and I must also assume that other people often feel that they do not belong. It is up to me to adopt the disenfranchised around me, and let them know they are family to me. How the concept of evangelism became disconnected from the dynamic of family and adoption is a mystery to me. Well, I suppose it is not that much of a mystery. Adoption in this missional sense means being sacrificial, and accepting of the radical other. To riff off CS Lewis – it is not a safe practice, but it is a good practice.
A quick acknowledgement to a few of my UK friends (long time and new friends) who modeled this way of life in near eccentricity in my latest visit: Mike Stygal and Jules James, Aran and Catrin Lliar Jones from saysomethinginwelsh.com, Ann and Chris, Charlie Upton, Sarah Owen and Maria Sarnacki, Gwyn and Mary Jones, Eleri James, Rhys Llwyd and Menna Machreth, Rupert Sheldrake, Aled Llion Jones, Stephen Simmonds, Dawn Wood, and Andrew Thomas. Note: Many do not identify as Christian, and few as evangelistic, but they all have something deep to teach those of us who do identify as missional.
…and to think, this all popped up, because Wales beat Belgium in the Euros.