Gospel of John Chapter 3

We  hope you are all enjoying the cooler weather. The mornings have been beautiful. Even the birds seem to be happier and more active with the cooler temperatures.This week our study is on Chapter 3, the Gospel of John, which gives us some understanding about the sacrament of Baptism. The chapter in John recounts Jesus relationship to two different individuals – Nicodemus, a Pharisee and learned man of the Jews, and John the Baptist, whom we have met in an earlier chapter. We know that the baptism by John was “of the flesh”, designed to help those newly baptized repent of their sins and be prepared for the coming of the Messiah. The baptism which Jesus speaks about with Nicodemus is of “water and the Spirit”. It is the baptism which gives us adoption into the family of God.

Four years ago my daughter began the lengthy process of adopting a small boy from Haiti. There were legal hurdles, lost paperwork, visits with U.S. government officials, social workers and judges, multiple trips to Haiti to visit with the Haitian government and the child, and of course, the four year worry that something would go wrong.  As a grandmother I experienced with my daughter the trials, the waiting and finally the joy which was involved in the process. At the beginning of June my daughter flew to Haiti for the final time and came home to Texas with Shamma James McDonald.

The Baptism, which each of us experienced whether as infants or later in life, brought us into the family of God and made us His adopted daughters. God waits patiently for each one of us to accept His invitation to join His family. God prepares for each of us a path for our journey to Him and provides us assistance whenever we have need of His help. As each one of us accepts God’s invitation and becomes part of His family, He rejoices, much as my own family rejoiced when the adoption process for Shamma was completed.

In the book “Life of the Beloved” by Henri Nouwen, a now deceased Catholic priest, we read: “From all eternity, long before you were born and became a part of history, you existed in God’s heart. Long before your parents admired you or your friends acknowledged your gifts, or your teachers, colleagues, and employers encouraged you, you were already “chosen”. The eyes of love had seen you as precious, as of infinite beauty, as of eternal value…Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God who is all ears for us. Long before any person spoke to us in this world, we are spoken to by the voice of eternal love…The truth…is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity, and held safe in an everlasting embrace…This truth is not simply an inner truth that emerges from our center. It is also a truth that is revealed to us by the One who has chosen us….”

Being “chosen” by God to be part of His family is a gift of such graciousness, goodness and generosity. Will you join Karen and me this week in thanking the Lord that He has chosen us as His adopted daughters – “beloved and precious and of eternal value”?

May God bless you as you do your study. Enjoy your week. We look forward to seeing you all on Tuesday. Call us if you are having trouble with the lesson or just want to talk.