John (my ex-husband) and I adopted Highlander and Valkyrie in July 2012. Highlander was a one-year old puppy and Valkyrie was a nine-week old kitten. These fur-babies were destined to be adopted into my home, but especially Highlander.
We drove about an hour to the Tacoma Humane Society after seeing Highlander on their website, but I was informed that I could not meet him because another family had him on ‘hold’ until 5:00pm. Since it was 4:30pm and John was looking at the kittens anyways, I told her I would wait and see if they came to adopt him. Then, she realized the ‘hold’ was from the previous day, thus I could meet him. She also noted she had told another couple earlier that he was not available at this time. Then, he apparently attempted to start a puppy fight on his way to meet us. If you are keeping track, that was three opportunities for Highlander to not be adopted into my home and life.
He quickly became a mama’s boy, but had separation anxiety. It begun to ease as he grew in confidence that I would always return.
He is now nearly, if not completely, blind.
When we are out in the yard, he has moments of confidence in his environment and my presence. He will begin to pick up speed while playfully running and at times does not heed my warnings to ‘slow down’ or ‘be careful’ or even ‘STOP’. He runs face first into a fence, tree, or pavers. He bounces back, shakes it off, ‘looks’ around, and is on the move again. These moments of confidence cause my heart to be filled with joy, but the ‘bouncing off’ moments cause my heart to ache.
Then, there are moments in the yard when he lacks confidence and begins to panic with overwhelming separation anxiety. The other day, we were in the yard and he stopped to relieve himself while I continued down the driveway to the mailbox. As I kept an eye on him, he finished and sat in the yard ‘looking’ around but did not hear me. He panicked. He whined, cried, and quickly retraced his paw prints to the back door. This broke my heart.
He finally heard my voice calling for him. He turned and ran full force until I picked him up.
Despite my often and loving reassurance that we are together until death and beyond, Highlander feared that I had abandoned him for forever.
We have a similar relationship with the Triune God.
In our Acts text, Paul is speaking to Romans in Athens as a Roman citizen and a follower of The Way, which is the earliest name of Christianity. He admires their dedication to the gods, whom they sought one to be their patron. He noted the one called ‘an unknown god’ has become known in Jesus the Christ.
But, this ‘unknown God’ seeks us in order to adopt us into God’s home and family.
And yet, Jesus the Christ in our gospel prepares the disciples and us for the days, months, years, decades, and centuries ahead by sharing that he will be leaving again and ascending into heaven. However, Jesus and the divine presence of the Triune God is always and forever present in the Holy Spirit.
As critters of God’s creation, we are adopted by divine grace alone.
As Christians, our adoption the Triune God is known through the waters of baptism.
As Christians, we have moments of confidence in the divine presence, such as Highlander cuddled next to me.
As Christians, we have moments of separation anxiety and panic, as we question if we have been abandoned by the divine for forever.
Jesus foretells the sending of the invisible, but known, presence of God in the third ‘person’ of the Trinity.
The Holy Spirit is sent to be the driving force, with the return of NASCAR on-track racing today… the motor, that drives us forward into our vocations and baptismal commitments, manifested in our daily lives.
The Holy Spirit is sent to work in us by turning us from our sin, or being curved in on the self, and towards the will and Kingdom of God, that banquet and home with room, food, and drink abundant enough for all. This ‘turning’ is called repentance.
The Holy Spirit is sent to work in us, so that we might fulfill Jesus’ commandment to love one another as Jesus first loved his most intimate friends.
The Holy Spirit is sent to work through us to seek, to advocate for, and to bring forth justice.
The Holy Spirit is sent to work through and among us in acts of compassion and mercy in loving service of ALL people, but especially the ‘least of these’.
The Holy Spirit is sent to bring forth God’s will, banquet, home, and kingdom despite our own efforts to prevent it, whether knowingly or unknowingly.
- It might be our effort to limit the guest list or burdening guests with requirements.
- It might be efforts to continue in our own direction at our own speed until we bounce off the fence.
- It might be our separation anxiety, when we cannot see, hear, or feel the divine presence, especially when we are burdened or troubled in mind, body, or spirit.
But, the divine presence is always and forever present, at all times, in all places, with all people.
The Triune God sought us, rather than us seeking the Triune God as a patron.
God, the Father, adopted us rather than us adopting God.
God, the Son, embodied in human flesh and bone the ‘unknown God’ and thus became known.
God, the Holy Spirit, is always and forever driving us and working in, among, through, and despite us to bring forth the kingdom.
The Triune God is with us until death and beyond.
Thanks be to God. Amen.