An Advent Devotional

A few months ago, I was asked to write a devotion for the Trinity Lutheran Seminary Alumni Devotions. I was assigned December 20, and based my devotion on Galatians 4:1-7. You can find the entire devotion series here on Trinity’s website.

But when the fullness of time had come, God send his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. -Galatians 4:4-5

When I was a little kid, a frightened, nearly-frozen dog crawled onto our porch on Christmas Eve. My mother was a groomer at the local pet store and cleaned him up, then posted “LOST” fliers all around the neighborhood. When no one called to claim Zeus (by now, my sister and I had named him), we took him home and, much to my father’s displeasure and the confusion of our German Shepherd, made him a part of our family. After all, how was Dad going to tell his two kids they couldn’t keep the dog that came to their house on Christmas Eve?

Zeus knew right away that he was home. It was clear that he had been mistreated in the past–we always suspected his previous owners had abandoned him. But with us, he was a glutton for affection, and would happily spend hours being petted or brushed. He always wanted to be near us and grew to be a gentle and loving, if not very bright, family dog. He had been given new life that Christmas Eve.

Paul reminds the Galatians and us that at one time, we lived as slaves to evils outside our control. Like Zeus, our “owners” mistreated us. But when Christ came, God adopted us into a new family, a family where we are not only treated well, but are made heirs instead of slaves. We are now children of God, recipients of all the love God has to offer, and members of a new family. It is fitting that Zeus’s new life began on the very day that we remember Christ’s coming into the world and our own adoption into a new family. We saved his life that night, just as God saved ours.

Prayer: “Abba! Father!” Through Jesus Christ, you adopted us as your own sons and daughters and made us heirs of a new and better life. Nurture us and raise us to maturity. Hold at bay the forces that seek to re-enslave us, and listen to your children when we cry to you; in the name of your first-born Son, we pray. Amen.


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