You Are a Child of God

Jeremiah 31: 7-14
Ephesians 1: 3-14

January 2, 2022

Sing joyfully” the Lord God tells God’s people to take on that task. “The young women will dance for joy!” And, yes, even the young and even the old men will join in.. God will turn their mourning into laughter and their sadness into joy.” God will do that for you and me too … we are the children of God!

Happy New Year again friends … perhaps I should declare May You Have a Joy-filled New Year living out each day as a child of God because WE EACH ARE God’s CHILD! Pretty cool … you and you and you and each of you worshiping online with us today you are a child of God!

We heard Paul’s words from our Holy Scripture that “God chose us in Christ … God destined us to be God’s adopted children through Jesus Christ because of God’s love; according to God’s goodwill and plan.” Not the Christmas manger Jesus whose images many of you have already packed away until next December … you know you can’t have that manger scene around the house where people might notice it when they visit your home outside of the Christmas season can you?

It’s the living Jesus … the One who taught us God’s expectations … the One who died for our sins … that’s who God chooses us through through our faith; our belief, our changed lives as we follow Jesus’ directions so that we can be God’s children again, which God intended from the moment of our birth. From our baptism. Coming home again.

Children … not stagnated adults who view life through smudged and foggy lens but rather individuals who are part of God’s plan; a plan put together before the creation of the world. Children who are set free … Did you ever consider or wonder why kids … do not hesitate to laugh, giggle, and express joy without hinderances or barriers? That is true until adults start to tell them that they can’t express a freedom of joy and unencumbered happiness because there are social norms that dismiss unbound expressions of happiness. You and I know that life and living in society bars that kind of happy stuff. That’s why the world’s response to Pharrell Williams’ song Happy was such a shock … people actually enjoyed expressing happiness and dancing to his song.

I know I only have to watch my grandson Dax as he dances across Colleen and Ryan’s floors sometimes paired with their cats, sometimes to the beat of music but at other times clearly in his own two year old mindset world where each discovery is something added with sunshine … what joy, what unlimited happiness, and hope for what is around the next corner of his young life. The viewpoint of an unjaded child.

Friends as we enter into the vacuum called 2022 … IF we are at all interested in doing something more than spinning our wheels or repeating what has been done over and over again … IF we want to create a year of faith where God matters … where Jesus Christ is more than the occasional 11 letters on Christmas cards that are now entering the recycling bins of history … I do believe that we need to rediscover, accept and then live out the reality that God calls us to be God’s children.

People whose bright smiles, acceptance of any and all playmates, and yes our openness to express joy are what we should be known for. That people jaded by the course of their life histories and afraid or embarrassed to stand out in the gloomy crowd of worldly conformists will wonder who the heck are those people … what has brought them their smiles and laughter and openness to accept ALL others as equals? WHO ARE THEY …

And, in those moments we have the opportunity to declare that WE ARE THE CHILDREN of GOD; God who created the universe … God who had Jesus come to earth not so we could cover gravesites with dead evergreens every December as a Christmas season ritual but instead a Jesus whom God sent to earth so that humanity could have a clear path to joy, peace, and an inheritance beyond our time here on earth. A SAVIOR!

God’s people … God’s children … redeemed, and guided by the Holy Spirit!” When we live our lives as God’s children, we are openly demonstrating our love for God or as Paul wrote to the Ephesians, we are “honoring God’s glory through our hope in Jesus Christ.

English poet laureate, William Wordsworth, wrote that “[1]The Child is father of the Man.” And, I am here starting out this year suggesting that the Child of God; Jesus Christ needs to be the source of our rebirth not just by using that all too frequently misused descriptive “born again.” Yes, in speaking with Nicodemus, Jesus said we must change and believe but Jesus also talked about putting aside our lives to follow Him! Paul wrote about leaving behind what was so that we could be on the path to get to the “heavenly prize of Christ Jesus.”

I believe that the children can teach us some pretty amazing lessons if we only pay attention. Songwriter and musician Chuck Mangione wrote “[2]Look to the children, they know more than we. How it feels in this world to be free; free to love and be loved by all. For all kids are from one family.”

And, the Lord God proclaims …. SING JOYFULLY!!” The psalmist declares “Praise God with clashing cymbals” … now I can attest that young children do not hesitate to clang pots and pans together to show they are happy and full of joy but we adults know better don’t we. We adults, all so wise in our paths of righteous security in the image we pose to those around us, would never create the sounds of clashing cymbals … heck, we won’t even sing joyfully just in case others might hear an off key note now and then. Yet, our Scripture declares “Praise the Lord! Praise God right here in God’s Sanctuary! Praise God with tambourine and dancing! Praise God with resounding cymbals!! Let EVERYTHING … EVERY THING that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”

Do you see why we need to remember that we … you and I … are the children of God? We need to accept the freedom of that relationship and put it to good use by praising God! By singing joyfully!! Through loving our neighbors like children of innocence rather than like readers of social media memes and attack messages. We need to dance … my goodness we so need to dance with joy! David did … King David; you remember the kid with the slingshot but the man of faith danced … my goodness did he dance … because the Ark of God was coming home. “With songs, harps, lyres, tambourines, and cymbals … leaping and dancing with joy!”

When you think of the world of the faithful versus the world of those who have not come to know God or have rejected God for whatever reason … do you think that non-believers want to join a group that is angry, critical, self righteous, emotionless, or who set up a series of rules that reject even people who believe from being able to participate fully? Do you think non-believers are even curious about what faith means if all they see and hear from people of faith is a disconnect or an accusatory pointed finger declaring damnation damnation … no joy, no celebration, and no happiness through belonging.

I know I wouldn’t want to join that club but if the membership was excited, enthusiastically joy-focused and loving without hesitation and actually pushing aside the world’s need to overwhelm with fear while instead showcasing a sense of great promise … now that would be something! People who joyfully tell everyone and anyone come join us; we will care for you; God will love you and we will too.

SING JOYFULLY … the Lord God proclaims that! In Wordsworth’s poem he writes, “[3]My heart leaps up when I behold; a rainbow in the sky. So was it when my life began; So it now I am a man; So be it when I shall grow old, or let me die.”

The poet knew the value of celebrating life’s so-called childish moments and that the inability or unwillingness to celebrate like a child was a sign that real life was over.

My friend Mark Miller, whom some of you know, has written a wonderful song,, ‘Child of God,’ based on Romans 8 verses 38 and 39. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” His song reflects our need to put aside our concerns about what the world has to say and realizing that God loves each person, every one of us … we are each a child of God. We need in 2022 to live that message … we need to act that message … we need to be the children of God.

[4]No matter what people say. Say or think about you … I am a child I am a child of God. You are a child you are a child of God. No matter what the world says; says or thinks about me … I am a child I am a child of God. And, they can’t separate you from the truth … you are meant to be a child … a child of God.”

Friends, “God has revealed God’s hidden design to us. We have heard the good news of our salvation in Christ. We have been forgiven for our failures. God destined us to be God’s children through Jesus Christ because of God’s love. The Lord proclaims, “Sing joyfully! Raise your voices with praise and call out The Lord has saved God’s people! Come shouting with joy! The young women will dance for joy AND the young and old men and all God’s people will join in! Their mourning turned to laughter and their sadness into joy! Let every breathing thing praise the Lord!” AMEN

[1] ‘The Rainbow’ by William Wordsworth

[2] ‘Look to the Children’ words and music by Chuck Mangione, Gates Music, Inc.

[3] IBID The Rainbow

[4] Child of God by Mark A. Miller and JW Pepper

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