Sermon Discussion Questions—Ephesians 1:5-6 (Before You Ever Knew God, He Purposed To Be Your Father)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
1) What does the craving of acceptance look like in your life? Do you feel any of the pressures or tensions caused by it? What is this “currency of acceptance” that we demand from each other? How does our adoption change that?
2) Have you ever felt hung up by the doctrine of predestination? How does its place within the context of personal adoption change the discussion? What work went into God’s adoption of you?
3) Why is praise the appropriate response? What are the effects of this adoption? How does our view of God’s disposition toward us (happy and loving vs. angry and disappointed) effect our walk following him?
Quotes/Hard to copy-down parts (for the enthusiastic note-taker):
“Thou hast created us for thyself, and our heart is not quiet until it rests in Thee.” – St. Augustine
The acceptance you long for is found in Jesus and the Father he introduces you to. It is not found in the body you are willing to starve yourself for. It is not found in another zero at the end of your bank balance. It is not found in the arms of another person who is not your spouse. It is not found in a gift you have or a business you have built. It is not found even in the acceptance of your church…. It is found in God the Father who is smiling over you right now! (from Eric’s sermon)
Dan and Sena Roger’s story of what is involved in adoption:
The process of adoption is arduous and expensive. There are three main components: the home study, the dossier, and application that must be approved through customs and immigration.
The home study requires employing a local social worker to interview you, review your financials, and visit your home. This step is supposed to validate your motives and your ability to provide and care for the adopted child/children.
The dossier is basically an authenticity form to validate that you are who you say you are. It requires birth certificates and our marriage license to be authenticated by a public notary, who is authenticated by the State to validate their license, who then is authenticated by the US State Department. Every document ends up with at least 3 layers of authentication. You’ve seen the old war movies with the statement from authorities, “Show me your papers.” This is the adoption version.
The application is the culmination of the home study, dossier, essays, and other pertinent items submitted to the adoption agency to prepare for the application to Customs and Immigration. Additionally, classes are required to prepare you to actually bring the children home.
For Sena and I, the process began in August of 2010. We first applied to an adoption agency—Gladney, in our case. After walking us through what the process would entail, we were told to begin the paperwork. This paperwork was often overlapping and confusing. For example, medical forms had to be completed for the application, the home study, and the dossier. Yet these were different forms and the only people integrating the paperwork is the applying family.
Over the course of the Fall, we gathered our paperwork. Our home study was approved in February 2011. Our application was final by the end of that month and submitted to USCIS. They approved us in May 2011 and delivered our dossier to Ethiopia in June 2011. At this point, we were placed on a waiting list. Since then, we have had to remain current in our paperwork as the documents expire at seemingly random intervals. We are only allowed 1 renewal at 18 months, and after 3 years, you have to begin the entire process again from scratch. Sena and I will be starting over in October given how long we’ve been waiting.
Because we are adopting siblings and don’t know the children, we simply prepare and then wait for them to come into the system. The process is different (though no less complex) if you know the child/children you are adopting.
And the groundwork is only the beginning. Once the adoption is finalized, the relationship truly starts. Amazingly, the adopted child often never fully realizes the extent of the preparation required.