July 19, 2020
Pentecost 7, Proper 11
We are all inheritors. We have inherited so much. There is so much about us that we did not earn and did not achieve--it was simply given to us. Much of our inheritance we cannot change. We have a genetic code (which I do not fully understand).
This genetic code gets expressed in the color of our eyes, the sound of your voice, and even in the way you walk. This bodily inheritance is very complicated. It affects the way you walk. This bodily inheritance is very complicated. It affects the way we react to life circumstances: the food we like to eat, the way we handle the trauma we face and our educational goals and much more.
Our bodily inheritance is a given but there are changes in our personality as we grow depending on so many circumstances that we face in our life.
But we have also inherited so much more than our bodies. We have inherited the way we deal with that grouchy cashier in the supermarket and the way we speak to the policeman when we get a speeding ticket, our sense of humor or ack of it is part of our personality. We've inherited patters of anxiety that becomes obvious when we face a difficult situation. We feel put down when there is a threat to our ego.
We have inherited our reaction to the idea of doing away with the police department. If we are white, we have inherited all sorts of feelings about being called a white supremist or a racist.
We have inherited our love for the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox. We have an obsession with symphonic music or maybe country music. We may even have generational pain, an event in early childhood that was never fully healed.
And our inheritance is both a gift and a curse, a you may know yourself. It offers us the experience of life itself and yet comes with many, many broken promises and plenty of shattered dreams. Our basic human inheritance is one of blessings and curses.
It turns out, our Christian inheritance is similar. What kind of faith did our parents have that influenced us? Did we have good church school teachers? Were our friends believers? Did they have any influence on our way of thinking?
The inheritance we have from Jesus is ultimately the greatest gift, the most incredible gift we can ever receive and yet it does not come without its sacrifices or its suffering.
In his letter to the Christ-followers in Rome, Paul says, "when we cry 'Abba! Father' it is that 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--if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him"
Paul has spent a large part of his letter to the Romans explaining to the gentile followers of Jesus that they do not have to follow Torah, the Law, to be on good terms with God. All we need is faith in Jesus Christ and that comes to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are invited into the Kingdom of God by the power of God the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is Paul's key for gentile believers: one must have the Spirit! Paul makes it very clear, The Spirit, is the one who reveals our inheritance. The Spirit of God reveals the gifts that we receive form our Father in heaven. The eight chapter of Romans is one of the most important chapters in all Holy Scripture.
But how does the Spirit help us to see that we are children of God? Paul does not give specifics, but maybe you know? Maybe you have had an experience where the Spirit has shown you that you are God's beloved child. A time when the Spirit opened your heart to receive your Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
There are times of doubt and discouragement but then a powerful voice, maybe Paul in today's reading speaks to your heart and mind in a calm but powerful way "You are loved. You are a child of God. You are an heir of the Kingdom."
The beauty of inheritances is that we do not control them. An inheritance, is a pure gift. There are so many response to gifts: we can feel sheepish and embarrassed by their extravagance, we can embrace them, we can give thanks for them, or we can refuse to accept them.
The Holy Spirit of God has one main purpose--to help us honor and live into our inheritance. To claim our place as children of our Heavenly Father. The Spirit is working overtime to show us that we have an inheritance that is greater, more wonderful, more stunning than anything we can imagine.
And as God reigns and God's glory is revealed, we will see that we are beloved children. This is our inheritance: that we are wanted; that we are loved. And when you look in the mirror, maybe you'll see, however dimly, God's eyes, God's warmth, God's fiery passion, God's brimming love--for you are a child of God, you are beloved, and you are part of the family.