We’ve heard much in the news lately about how the Government wants to improve and speed-up the adoption process. Only last month the Prime Minister, ahead of the launch of the coalition’s ‘Adoption Action Plan’, once again vowed to tackle some of the barriers facing potential adoptees. Reassuringly, there seems to be renewed political and media interest in adoption and a realisation that adoptive relationships are hugely valuable in our society.

Adoption is a key theme in the Bible too, both theologically and in a practical sense as well. St. Paul uses the language of adoption to explain that when we choose to follow Christ, we become adopted children of God and joint heirs with Christ. This is significant in protestant theology as it represents the gracious activity of God who saves us and welcomes us into the life of the kingdom. It tells of a God who chooses to bestow the birth-right of his own Son onto those whom his Son now calls ‘friends’. (John 15.14f)

Practically speaking, we have one very well-known example of adoption in the Gospel. The Gospel narrative suggests that Joseph was not actually Jesus’ birth father, but that he chose to stand by Mary and raise Jesus as though he were his own flesh and blood. There is a certain poetic justice in this, Jesus alongside whom we are adopted by God into the kingdom, himself had to be adopted so that he could ‘dwell with us’ in the first place.

All of this points to how significant adoptive relationships are, alongside other forms of parental relationship, as a building block of a healthy and loving society. Indeed the Bible might challenge us to assess what is more ‘natural’: a blood-tie or a bond of love? I’ll leave you to ponder that one!

In Christ, Tim.

‘Happy’ New Year?

 

Over the last month I have said ‘Happy New Year’ to a lot of people as,  I am sure,  you have too. But surely this phrase begs the question: what does it mean to be ‘happy’? Measuring happiness, or ‘well-being’ as it’s often referred to has become increasingly popular in the last few years. Governments try to measure the well-being of the nation, usually from a fiscal perspective. However, by their own admission the ONS (Office for National Statistics) ‘is exploring existing indicators and datasets that measure societal wellbeing beyond economic growth.’1 Companies, particularly with larger workforces, have to put resources into making sure the well-being of their employees is promoted, realising that this often boosts productivity.  Schools in recent years and at curriculum level have been encouraged to nurture physical, emotional and spiritual well-being in pupils. There seems to be an increasing awareness of the many components that go towards making us happy, yet has there been any discernible increase in happiness?

So the festive season is upon us once again. Yippee! I hear you cry - or maybe not. Over the next few weeks we will dash around the shops to purchase presents and other Christmas goodies, all the time accompanied by Noddy Holder shouting 'It's Christmas!' and the iridescent flash of Rudolph's nose - deep joy. The Christmas and New Year editions of the TV papers will be out soon too. I, like many others, will be scouring the Radio Times red pen in hand to make sure I don't miss the unmissable; iPlayer notwithstanding of course. I think the Christmas special of Doctor Who will rank quite highly on our household's must see list, probably followed by a film we've already seen 20 times. And after Turkey with all the trimmings we can settle down for a snooze in semi-sozzled slumber. For this is the season of goodwill, where joy to the world rings out from every rooftop - or maybe not.