Ephesians 1:3-14 (NRSV)
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Verse 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, Verse 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. Verse 5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, Verse 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Verse 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace Verse 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight Verse 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, Verse 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Verse 11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, Verse 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. Verse 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; Verse 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, to the praise of his glory.
The author of Ephesians writes to an audience of newly formed believers in Christ in the city of Ephesus, many of whom are Gentiles and, therefore, not part of God's "first" family, the chosen people of Israel. What a gift then to be told, "[God] chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. . . . He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will." With these words the limits of family and the notions of who's in and who's out in God's eyes are being radically and rapidly expanded.
As we celebrate New Year's Day today, we would also do well to celebrate the new family that God in Christ is forming by gathering "all things [emphasis mine] in him, things in heaven and things on earth." May we open our hearts and our communities to this incredible inclusion.
Adopting God, you welcome us into your family and gift us with the inheritance of your love. Today, help us extend that same welcome to those who may feel excluded, that all people and all things may be gathered together in you. Amen.