United Presbyterian Church of West Orange

"Who Are You?"

Minister Kim Braxton
December 27, 2020

Lectionary Scripture: Galatians 4:4-7 (focus on verse 7)

Main Lesson: Remember whose you are.

Lectionary Scripture

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,5in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.6And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

Title: Who are you?

Good morning! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas celebration. As for me in my house we decided the absolute best way to commemorate Jesus’ birthday was through a mass consumption of carbs, fats, and sugars which will ultimately bring us closer to the Kingdom of Heaven or which is more likely, closer to a bottle of Lipotor.

In all seriousness though this year’s holiday celebration like everything else that has taken place in 2020 had a significantly different feel to it. As we gathered together around our dining room tables we were all made acutely aware of people’s absences from our homes. Whether it was from an abundance of caution and maintaining our respective socially distant safe pods. Or from a chair that remained empty due to the loss of a loved one. Yes, this Christmas definitely had a different feel and texture to it. As my family sat down to enjoy our holiday dinner, I was moved by the fact that we no longer needed to have the table “leaf expanders” added to lengthen the table in order to accommodate guests and family. Now think about the over 300 thousand people whose tables are a little shorter, where a chair remains empty. Whether the loss was caused by CoVid, cancer, or police violence - - the sheer volume of the losses mounting up this year can leave you feeling like you are choking on grief vicariously and gasping for air.

Bringing this feeling closer to home, over the last four weeks Pastor Becca and I have conducted a mid-day Advent prayer observance. For six days a week we prayed about the concerns lifted up from our congregation and issues laid on our hearts about what is going on in the world.  At the end of this prayer series, it became clear that 2020 is a year that brought trouble to everyone.  Whether it’s sickness, loneliness or loss 2020 is grinding down on our proverbial “spiritual joints” in the same way that extra body weight causes wear and tear on our physical joints. This “wear and tear” has the ability to wear down and put a strain on our faith. Think about some of the things we have had to struggle with as a Body of Believers in 2020: sickness and loss; debt and lack of abundance; loneliness and isolation; police violence and mass protests, and a prevailing feeling of anxiety and worry that lingers in the atmosphere.

However, today’s scripture identifies a very important principle we can lean on to rejuvenate our faith during difficult times and refocus our prayers.

I’m referring to the specifically to the point Paul made in Verse 7 “…and since you are his child, God has made you also his heir.” Paul makes the same point in Romans 8:17, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs - - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”  Adoption is not a second class status in the family of God. That’s not the way adoption works. When Simone Biles competed in the Olympics there was a minor controversy that occurred when a gymnastics announcer Al Trautwig refused to accept Simone Bile’s grandparents as her parents. He stated, “she was raised by her grandfather and his wife and she calls them mom and dad.” He later stated, “They may be mom and dad but they are not her parents.” These statements questioned the legitimacy of all adopted parents. Ms. Biles set the record straight by saying “My parents are my parents and that’s it.”

Through Jesus we have the position of being heirs to the promises of God. Full rights, not second-class citizens. As heirs, we have access rights to God’s resources. Ephesians 1:3 states “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

He sent his Son that we might have the privilege of being children of God, and He sent His Spirit that we might have an experience of it.

This familial relationship with the Almighty grants us access to God in prayer. Through Jesus, God has provided us access to an intimate audience with Him. In Hebrews 4:16 it states, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in the time of need.”

If you have ever felt like you have drifted too far away from God that you don’t have the right to approach Him in prayer that is a lie. Let me remind you that there is no place where you can wander that is out of the sight of the Lord, there is nothing that you can do that can separate you from the love of God. “38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39.  

As we continue moving forward in this new reality it is tempting to believe that at 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2021 everything will shift back to normal and we will be able to resume living our lives as we did in the “pre Rona” times. As wonderful as that would be it is an unrealistic expectation. We will continue to face challenges. However, don’t lose heart! Don’t give into fear! Remember you are an heir, a child of God, and you have access to all the promises of God! You don’t have to carry these burdens on your own.

Philippians 4:6-8 states “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. “


As we continue to adapt and endure with this new reality where we find ourselves I want to encourage you to keep the faith and not to lose heart. See Christmas is a reminder that “God is with us” in the same way that Easter is a reminder that “Jesus died for us”. As time goes on and we continue to face new challenges and adversities remind yourself of who you are and whose you are! You are a child of the most high. You are a son. You are a daughter of the King of all creation. You are a co-heir with Christ! You are more than a conquer (Romans 8). When trouble comes turn to God.  2 Corinthians 4:8-9: states “8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

I close with this thought. As we continue through this season if you begin to feel tired, and a bit overwhelmed. Remind yourself that you are not alone, you are not defeated, and you are a child of God!