January 3

Read Ephesians 1:3-14

According to tradition, Paul wrote this letter from a jail cell in Rome. Remembering this, it’s touching to notice the language of family used so repeatedly.

As he sits alone, uncertain of his fate, Paul writes in the language of Christian community, not isolation. He uses “us” language — God “chose us,” “destined us, “lavished on us,” “made known to us,” and so on. Pauls speaks of salvation, relationship with God, and ties to each other in familial terms, choosing the language of “adoption” and “inheritance.”

You can imagine that remembering God’s commitment to family and community was a way Paul battled back the inevitable feelings of loneliness he experienced in his cell. He took the time to encourage himself and others in the truth of God’s love for us.

While I don’t suppose many of us are planning to spend much time in prison this year, feelings of loneliness and separation are part of the normal routine of our lives. For many, 2020 has been a marathon of isolation.

When we feel alone, it’s tempting to frame our faith in the language of isolation: “God doesn’t feel close to me;” “I feel abandoned.” In this new year, I encourage you to remember that God called us family, adopted us. Do not give in to the lie of isolation. Instead, encourage yourself (and others!) with the truth of God’s invitation to family.

Pray

God of community, God of family, God of “us,” remind us that we are part of your family. You adopted us, you chose us. Teach us how to grow and care for your family every day. Amen.

Jacob Christiansen

Director for Youth and Young Adult Ministry

First United Presbyterian Church (Fayetteville, AR)

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