Adoption instead of slavery
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you have received a spirit of adoption. Romans 8:15
I don't want to steal too much of my own Sunday sermon thunder, but I am arrested by Paul's notion of adoption and slavery. Slavery and adoption don't seem to be too closely connected, but Paul makes the comparison work. We can all relate to the word slavery, I think; it is an infinitely charged word in our America where slavery was the institution that continues to resonate even today. Paul's world was awash in the practice of slavery, too, so he knew the power of the word. Adoption means to be chosen, taken into, and becoming part of a family that is not your family of origin. Being slaves to fear is something that most of us can understand, a fear that causes us to judge, to abstain from, and to keep community - and maybe most others - at arm's length.
Paul reminds us that, in Jesus Christ, we are all brought into each other's "family". The Holy Spirit (of Jesus) has given us the strength to choose not only to embrace God's unconditional love, but to choose one another. The Spirit of adoption tells us that we are all brought together by God's overarching and generous love. The Spirit binds us together in humanity, in Baptism, in God's community; God has chosen us and given us the choice to decide life or death, hope or despair, love or indifference (that leads to hate). God brings us into His family; we have no choice about that; it is done. But we have the freedom to choose God or reject the family He calls us to be a part of, a family of promise and life that includes all people.