Destined for Adoption – by Rev. Desmond Jagger-Parsons
Spirited Reflection – readings for Sunday January 5th, 2014
Desmond Jagger-Parsons (Rev.) is the new Chair of the Board of Directors of KAIROS. Desmond has served as the United Church’s elected representative to the Board since 2012. Desmond is a United Church minister serving on the Newtown-Lumsden Pastoral Charge in north-eastern Newfoundland. Some in KAIROS circles will remember that Desmond served as an interim Program Coordinator for Middle East Partnerships in 2007 with KAIROS.
God destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will. Ephesians 1:5
Although we’ve moved from Ontario back “home” to Newfoundland and Labrador, we continue to keep the upcoming holiday of Family Day weekend called various things across the country. We are particularly fond of this long weekend because almost three years ago, we brought home THE TWO BEST BOYS IN THE WORLD. Don’t mistake best boys for well-behaved because they’re not. As though they were in training to be social activists, they rebel against every rule and ordinance just to see if any of them are worthy of their fidelity and trust. As with other older parents, I find myself simultaneously made much younger and much older by their company. And I cannot, for the life of me, imagine what my life would have been without them.
As an ecumenical body, we can sometimes look more at our differences than our similarities. Even considering some of our partnerships within Canada and around the world, we have to admit that not all of our partners feel exactly the same, especially about controversial social issues. What then does it mean to imagine that we were ALL adopted as God’s own, predestined before all time. Not that we need to imagine that God wanted all the schisms and pain in the ecumenical church universal, but rather that despite our annoying habits and differences, that God has chosen us to be ONE family, for all time. Then can we imagine that this ONE family into which we were adopted is larger than our diocesan, regional, denominational or national boundaries? It might even be a statement from God that we needed each other.
As we adopted the boys, who were two and four at the time they came to us, some folks offered comments about the children they had known who’d been adopted where family relationships had broken down after the adoption. Others asked us about what their birth parents had done, or asked if they were damaged in some way that might show itself up later. Many told us of what a good thing we were doing. As a pastor, and as a former Crown Attorney, defense counsel and family law lawyer, I am well aware that some children who are born into what appear to be perfectly respectable families have had pretty serious problems. Some of those family relationships have broken down and sometimes, their birth/actual parents had done things to damage them. I wondered if the same advice that was being offered to us isn’t readily being offered to couples trying to conceive a child. And I noticed that when people had a child born into their family, everyone seemed to recognize that they were very fortunate.
The truth is that we adopted our children not to do a good thing in the world or to take extraordinary parenting risks or because we were good people. We needed them. Although we didn’t know, our lives wouldn’t have been the life we were predestined to have without them. Although I would never have known, I cannot imagine a life without the joy my boys have brought me. I had a KAIROS moment actually in realizing this – reflecting on the past, and the future that could have been, I found myself in God’s time where truth was revealed.
The adoption paradigm is also true for God and the church in our ecumenical social justice work. God predestined this messy, risky calling for us not because we need to do something good for the world, or because we’re wonderful for doing it; God predestined us to this calling because we need it. It makes us church in a way little else can do. It makes us family. It gives us glimpses into the turning-the-world-upside-down-kingdom and a joy we would never had known had we not done this. Thank you for the opportunity you’re giving me in my little role with you.