6/11/06, Trinity-B

Grown Children
Romans 8: 14-17

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God for you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption. When we cry, Abba! Father! It is the very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”  (Romans 8: 14-17, NRSV)

od has gone to great lengths to help us understand and experience that He loves us as a parent loves a child. The source of what we call the Holy Trinity, which we observe on this Annual Trinity Sunday, is God’s extreme efforts to relate to us as a divine Father who personally knows and loves each one of us. Also, our God wants us to know Him as a real Father. He has come into our lives as the Holy Spirit, His own divine Spirit. And God the Father wants us to know His Son Jesus as a big brother. Furthermore, God wants us to come to believe and experience that we are co-heirs with Christ and adopted children in the Divine Family.

We have a house in Carrollton for sale as we prepare to be appointed to St. John United Methodist in Atlanta. Yesterday we had a couple come to look at our house: They said that they wanted to move to Carrollton to be closer to their Grown Children. We responded by saying that this is one reason that we are moving back to Atlanta, to be nearer our Grown Children, and our wonderful new granddaughter.

Likewise, Our Father God wants to move closer to us. He wants us to begin to think of Him as our dear Father.

Fred Jordan, and fellow preacher on the Cokesbury Sermon Connection, tells the story of being on a bus going to Paris when he heard a small boy referring to his Father as Abba.  “Abba what is that!” “Abba is it time to eat!” “Are we almost there Abba?”  Every other word out of the boy’s mouth was Abba. The boy finally turned to a man who was caught listening and the boy asked the Englishman if he knew what Abba meant. The Englishman admitted he didn’t. Then with a smug smile that comes to a child who knows something a grown up doesn’t know he said: “It means Daddy!”

And our Divine Father wants us to call Him Daddy. Indeed, He listens for us to cry out the name, Abba Father!

Whenever we are able to cry out to Abba in joy, in confusion, in pain, or when we feel like celebrating our being His Grown Children in prayer and worship, you know it must be the same joy leaping in God’s heart as the joy we know whenever our Grown Children cry out the name, Daddy whenever they call to us! Marilyn and I can’t wait to hear what name our granddaughter Charlotte has for us. I’ll take whatever she chooses and leap for joy whenever I hear it. And it is natural for our Heavenly Father to want to hear us crying out His name.

And really this is how we begin to understand the great mystery of the High Doctrine of the Holy Trinity: Whenever we can identify ourselves as adopted children in the Father’s family. And in those close moments of identification with the Divine we possibly reach our closest experience we can know in this life of just a little foretaste of what Eternal Glory will be like in our Heavenly Family.

Now I am going to make this next statement at the peril of losing you in regular Sunday Worship when I point out that “we do not have to be in community worship for the Abba-ness of God’s presence and the “Witness of the Spirit” to explode within us.

This must have been the very line that depressed and defeated John Wesley who heard a worship leader reading from the Book of Romans. And this could have been the exact second when the Founder of Methodist suddenly and for the first time, “felt his heart strangely warmed.”  You see, this kind of thing begins to happen to us whenever we begin to cry out for our “Abba.”

Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes I can see the face of a friend light up whenever the Spirit touches them in a regular old worship service. It is totally appropriate for the daughters and sons of Wesley to feel a call from God, right in the pew. It may feel like your cell phone going off in the Sanctuary at a high and holy quiet moment. It is calling, you thought you had put the phone on vibe, or silent, but it went off. And God seeks to call His dear children, but sometimes we miss the call because we left our phone at home. Or maybe your little brother did indeed take you cell phone with him to the Braves game at Turner Field. We have to be ready to hear whenever our Father calls.

But you know something… Our folks around this church never seem to miss a call. Their phone is on and they are listening, or expecting the vibration to go off any minute.

Indeed, Abba might be calling His dear child right now. Is He calling you?

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
6/11/06, Trinity-B