By Steven Norris

     The little redheaded orphan glided across the stage, belting out with hope and conviction, “The sun’ll come out, tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun.” Though familiar with the musical, this weekend was the first time that I have seen a production of “Annie” in person. It centers on an unswervingly optimistic young girl’s quest to find a family — a place of belonging and acceptance.

     Tonight, right here in Griffin, a different set of children will gather to be reminded that they are not alone. Their circumstances are different, for many of these children are not strictly “orphans” and do have families — mothers and fathers that love them. However, due to a variety of circumstances, those homes are not safe places to be at this time. Therefore, foster families have opened their doors to care for these vulnerable members of our community.

     I thought of both of these examples in looking at Isaiah’s prophetic description of the Messiah: “His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father…” It is an odd description of Jesus, who never married or had children. Such a name would naturally apply to God.

     Jesus said of his relationship to God, “I have come to do my father’s will,” and “I must be about my father’s business.” In the book of Psalms, we read, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” One of the lesser-known Christmas scriptures is found in the letter to the Galatians: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent 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.”

     Jesus’ birth, life, and death are significant in that his primary calling was to reconcile humanity to God. Jesus came to adopt orphan humanity and bring them into a family with an “everlasting father” and an eternal home. This kind of fatherhood stood in stark contrast to the fatherhood of the surrounding cultures in Jesus’ day. Instead of a father who imposes his position of privilege and power over the rest of the family, the Divine Fatherhood to which Jesus points is one that is willing to sacrifice for the good of the children.

     The story of Christmas is the story of God going to great lengths to bring us home and to assure us that we are God’s children. This home is secure, and we never have to worry about the possibility of being orphans again — whether by death, neglect, or our own sinful choices.

     Therefore, let us take a few moments to thank God for that love and reconciliation this week. May we reflect on the blessing of our adoption into God’s family and the inheritance we share with Jesus. Let us look for ways that we might support others in our community — whether children or adults — who don’t enjoy that same assurance, looking for ways to remind them that they are loved.