“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 1 John 3:1
Our God is a God who acts by speaking, his Words do things, when he wanted light he simply said, “Let there be light.” When he desired to raise Lazarus from the dead he simply called him out of the tomb. So when he desires to add you to his family he does it by speaking, he calls us his children and so we are.
Thanks be to God we are not left wondering how and in what way this voice of God called us. We are not abandoned to our own detective work examining every feeling and thought to decipher if God has truly called us to be his children. No, our God has this wonderful habit of attaching his Words to things so that we might be sure not only that they were spoken but that they were actually spoken to us. In the gift of Holy Baptism ordinary water is attached to this calling Word of God. We are claimed by him in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and there we are declared to be children of God, by his Word it is done.
But such promises of the Word will always come under attack. Doubts will always linger. Over and again throughout our life we are tempted to give up on the promises. Yours are lives that have been marked by disappointment, financial distress, divorce, loneliness, depression and anger. Your experiences make many wonder if you are really part of the heavenly family, if you are actually the children of God. If God is your Father and he is all powerful then why do you suffer? And the greatest affront to these promises of God is not the temporary sorrows but the ones that come when death touches those around you. The tears that are shed when even the family of God is ripped apart by the grave are not to be underestimated. There at the very moment that the promises seem to matter the most is when they teeter on the precipice.
I remember the funerals we had while I was in Georgia, we would use a large white pall to drape over the casket. Right at the beginning of the service the pall bearers would drape the casket when I said, “In Holy Baptism you were clothed with the robe of Christ’s righteousness that covered all your sin. St. Paul says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” And then, as the white cloth fell upon the casket, the congregation would join in and declare, “We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like his.”
Right there in the middle of the funeral, in the middle of the tears, in the middle of the heartache the proclamation was made again. The promise stands! Death – it will not stand, it will see its end. But the Word of God, the Word of life, the Word spoken to you in your Baptism, the Word that declares you to be loved and forgiven, that Word will endure for all eternity. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
And so you are!