49 1 Listen to me, O coastlands,
pay attention, you peoples from far away!
The Lord called me before I was born,
while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.
2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me away.
4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Today’s Bible readings are addressed head on by Nouwen. Jesus says to us that we are God’s beloved children – that we were loved before we were born and will be loved after we die. Today’s readings from the prophets show that they too had been marked out as God’s – to go forth into his world and do his bidding.
Pondering this, I wondered about the words of the creed we say each Sunday We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father…” whoch echoes John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. How can we all be God’s children? How can we reconcile this with John 1:12 “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God”?
I wasn’t terribly satisfied with my theological research*. This priest notes that it is a mystery. I am all for a bit of divine mystery – much is – but it is things like this that give sceptics much glee in pointing out a contradiction? Perhaps the start of an answer in my own mind is that Jesus was born perfect, without sin, as the Son of God. We are God’s children if we but acknowledge him as our Father – as it says in Ephesians, we are adopted.
And now to today’s Great ‘O’ antiphon and my quest to link to today’s reading? This one feels like a stretch. But it we allow God to hold the keys to our heart, we can become Children of God; if we love him, we can be lead from the prison of sin to the freedom of Heaven.
O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel; you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house, those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
* OK, I googled it. First Capital Connect trains aren’t equipped with fully functioning theological libraries.