M is s io n M a t te r s Children of God easter redemption and a Heavenly Father’s open arms by Caroline Lusk At Christmas, we celebrate the birth. At Easter, we celebrate the resurrection. Each holiday bears its own symbols, decorations, meals and compulsory attendance in church musicals, pageants and even church itself. We have delineated well the milestones of the life of Jesus and the season in which those will be honored. But what if we removed the parameters? What if we could step back and take in the whole of Christ’s gift, plan and sacrifice? Truly, how can we comprehend or even rationalize this concept of salvation with even one of these components missing? We can’t. We weren’t meant to. For in and through each element, God was bringing us closer and closer to Him. As His promises and plans unfolded, so too did our adoption into His great family. From that perspective, the notion of adoption rises to the fore as a central tenant of our faith. “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,” Ephesians 1:4,5. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” That manner of love was excruciating. But, just as a mother experiences the pain of child-birth, Jesus had to endure the pain of the cross. It was the only way that we could become His children. Out of His suffering, we are birthed into new life with Him. Not just because He bled. Not just because He bore the stripes. Not just because He died. But because He died and rose again, fulfilling the prophecies laid out thousands of years prior, we are His children. We are His family. In that light, Easter is more than a story of an empty tomb. It represents our invitation into the family of God. And, while Jesus loved those who seemed unlovable and helped those who were helpless—namely, us—he was teaching us how to love and be family here and now. This Easter season marks the beginning of a series about family. From traditional to non-conventional to broken, we’ll discover how God is moving through hearts and changing generations… And we’ll start just where He did— adoption. As we are folded into the arms of Christ as sons and daughters, so too should we open our lives to enfold those who will never know the love of a family otherwise. Let this season be a reminder and encouragement to meditate on the extreme cost Jesus and His Father paid for our eternal life. Let us not take for granted the gift we have been given as His adopted children. That third day changes everything. That day, promises became truth, sinners became redeemable, the sinless became the bearer of all sins… and we—those of us who believe in the gift and the truth of God’s word, became His children. 28 CCM