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02 November 2012

Shelter

Shelter

While the new James Bond movie had the biggest Bond opening weekend in half a century, the sky seemed to literally fall in two days later when the Frankenstorm of the century raged through the Caribbean and smashed into the US East Coast. The trail of devastation is massive as US President Barack Obama declared a "major disaster".

"Let the sky fall, when it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together
At skyfall."

While Adele's noirish ballad is a Bond theme song that beautifully accompanies the film, the violent forces of nature highlight the fragility of our humanity in which we can't always stand tall, as livelihoods, homes and lives were lost this week.

The psalmist recognises that our shelter from life's storms is ultimately only found in God. "How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings" (Psalm 36:7). The prophet Isaiah similarly depicts Him as the stronghold to the needy in distress and a shelter from the storm (Isaiah 25:4). When the sky crumbles we can dwell in the shelter of the Most High and abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

"Skyfall... When worlds collide, and days are dark."

In dark days and colliding worlds, James Bond may entertain us but the reign of God transforms us. For we not merely find our shelter, but we become a shelter for others."A king will rule in the right way, and his leaders will carry out justice. Each one will stand as a shelter from high winds, provide safe cover in stormy weather" (Isaiah 32:2).

This week, Children's Minister Edward Timpson warned of the dark clouds over the teenagers who leave the care system and face a "cliff-edge" as they become trapped in poverty and joblessness. As the sky seems to fall in on the most vulnerable children who need the most support, he rightly spoke of a "national scandal".

Thousands of the most vulnerable children in our society have nowhere to call home. Every day over 50 children are taken into care. They are removed from chaotic, abusive, neglectful or desperate situations. While some need a temporary home, others need a permanent home with a new family. There are 4,000 children waiting to be adopted and 8,750 more foster families are needed. The Home for Good initiative identifies that God's people are uniquely positioned to foster and adopt these vulnerable kids.

The apostle Paul reflects on the Spirit of adoption who placed us into the family of God. His phrase "the Spirit of adoption" gives foundational images for life: the placing in a family, the gaining of identity, and the re-socialisation in terms of new family values.

Paul's adoption metaphor is a radical piece of imagery that portrays the equality of salvation and addresses a communal identity. God's children, adopted and led by the Spirit, are heirs of a new world and marked by the hope for the fulfillment of a new reign (Romans 8:14-37). The Spirit has profound implications for the social make-up of this community and redefines its boundaries. A new social and ethical order is created in the existing social and power structures of society (Romans 12:1f).

As God's adopted family, we are marked by hope and take part in the divine reign. We are indeed meant to be a shelter from high winds and provide safe cover in stormy weather. We are meant to place the lonely in families. We are all invited to a new future.

Marijke Hoek, Forum for Change coordinator

Oxfordshire churches launch first Adoption Sunday

    Photo credit: cjohnson7 via Creative Commons