For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your spirit of adoption. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out." Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”
Gospel is John 3, The Story of Nicodemus
LDR Region 1 Disaster Preparedness Project Manager Dave Brauer-Riecke, in his current 5th Sunday sermon, cited and preached concerning the above scripture readings. Preaching, not just with words, but giving physicality to what he said. Intermittently fading to black to remind us of the Gospel's Nicodemus night session. He held a container of water when he quoted the words of Jesus to Nicodemus of being born of water and the spirit. He also burned a piece of paper as he read Isaiah's description of seraph touching the coal to his unclean lips and showed the Oregon adoption documents that made somebody else's child his son.
This Trinity Sunday Dave saw the above passages from scripture as concrete metaphors for both God's identity and ours as we go through a transition from what was before to what is yet to be. I have been thinking of transitions all week as we plan our current worship service to what we are transitioning into when our worship will have some of the congregation online and some worshiping in person.
In the next part of the sermon Dave defined the adoption triad which is composed of the three groups of people whose lives are joined as immediate members of an adoption family story. The first group in the triad is the birth parents. Even if one or both parents are unknown, they are still vital members of the triad. Children who were placed will always be a part and forever linked to their birth parents.
The second part of the triad is the adoption parent or parents. These parents will be the main caretakers of the child who has been placed, and will have a very important role to fill. They are linked forever to their child through adoption, just as if they had conceived that child.
The last and most important part of the triad is the child placed for adoption. This child will be bonded and joined forever with both birth and adoptive parents. Adopted children will have traits of both families and will always have a connection to each in a deeper way than any other member of the triad could understand.
Dave used this as a way to examine the Holy Trinity. He spoke from personal experience and from the conversations and work of Sarah Kruger, an associate in his Region 1 Disaster Preparedness and Response work He moved also the hearts of those in the congregation who had adopted children, Dave compared God with the birth parent whose child is taken from her because of the circumstances surrounding the adoption. The adoptive parent is the Holy Spirit who walks with the child and feels the child's grief and joy. Jesus becomes the adopted child of the adoption triad.
Understanding the Holy Trinity through the prism of the adoptive triad is useful. The adoptive parents, despite their best intentions and particularly if they are the adoptive parents of a child of color, can't help but become complicit in the grief that child experiences. This is expressed, in Isaiah passage as one who has unclean lips, living in a land of people with unclean lips. Even when the coal blots out the guilt and sin they know this that through their thoughts, word and deed they will sin again.
They must do the work. To move from one level of understanding, love and empathy to another. This echoes with what the congregation heard last week from Juan Carlos. The Holy Spirit, the advocate is made known when we experience the grief of the child and the grief of God, as adoptive parent, feels at he disappearance of the child.
Dave declared Jesus' blackness is where his power and purpose is centered. Yes, for me, this is where the words and stories of Jesus touches my humanity.