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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Today’s Scripture ReadingGalatians 4:4–7

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

Although we are still waiting for the dawning of Epiphany, the light shining forth from that tiny manger in Bethlehem has already begun to challenge the order of the day. In this passage from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we see Paul laying out the case for why Jesus’ arrival has fundamentally changed the relationship between God and humanity. The Law, Paul argues, was vital for a time, but in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection we have been “adopted” as God’s children and given the gift of the Spirit into our hearts. We cannot earn this gift; it comes through our faith in Jesus Christ.

This is a difficult concept to wrap our minds around in our world of quid pro quo­. Even around the generosity of gift-giving during the holidays, or in our hosting of family or friends, there is an unspoken understanding that we will, at varying points of time, play the role of giver and receiver of those gifts and hospitality. When was the last time that you truly received something unconditionally? For many of us, it’s hard to remember. Yet Paul lifts up this promise as a reminder that through Jesus’ arrival, everything has changed. We cannot earn our salvation through the Law but are instead heirs through our faith. We follow Christ then not to earn God’s favor or promise but through gratitude for all that God has already done for us.

Emmanuel—God with us—in this Christmas season, my heart is filled with gratitude for the unconditional relationship and promise that you have given us in Jesus. May that promise guide me in this year ahead, that I might reflect your light and love always. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

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