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‘An amazing love story’

Synod School preacher: God chose us through Christ before laying the foundation of the world

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Samuel Son, the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s manager for Diversity and Reconciliation, preaches Monday during Synod School worship. (Screenshot)

LOUISVILLE — Growing up in the City of New York, the Rev. Samuel Son said he remembers pretending that he didn’t care how early in the process he was selected to play in a pickup baseball game. “We would stand there, trying to look like we didn’t care,” Son recalled during evening worship Monday at the Synod of Lakes and Prairies’ Synod School. “But at the same time, we tried to stand out. We definitely didn’t want to be the last kid [selected].”

Contrast that, the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s manager for Diversity and Reconciliation told the 450 people or so gathered in person or online for Synod School this week, with how God selects the elect according to Ephesians 1:3-10: God “chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before [God] in love.”

At his crucifixion, “the Chosen One experiences rejection so that we can experience being the elected of the Chosen One,” Son said. “It’s an amazing love story. Before the foundation of the world, before any expansion of space and time, God had us in God’s mind. It seems too good to be true.”

Son likened that view to how he and his wife prepared for the arrival of their first child. “Before our first son was born, my wife and I were thinking about him and imagining our life together. We were planning. What should we name him? We even prepared a room. We wrote, ‘Welcome home,’ even though he didn’t know how to read.”

Election “is not about who goes to heaven and who doesn’t,” Son said. “It’s about the God who saves us and knows us even before our first breath, even before the first atoms” came into being.

Notice the language in that part of Ephesians, Son said. Paul’s word choices include “joy,” “pleasure,” “lavish” and “freely.”

“This is what being chosen by God is,” Son said. “God didn’t create us because God needed people to work the garden. God chose us because God desired us.”

Son urged his hearers to stop referring to Presbyterians as “God’s frozen chosen.”

“We’ve got to get rid of that term. There’s no such thing as being frozen when you’re chosen,” Son said. “Emotion is a full-body experience. … To be chosen, loved and desired by God — to be in Christ selected before the foundation of the world — you can’t help but jump for joy and do mission work out of the lavishness of the love of God, which is flowing.”

But many of our life experiences “say that we are not chosen. We have experienced so many hurts,” Son said. “But Paul is so sure that he’s saying to us, ‘You were chosen before the foundation of the world.’ What happens in the world doesn’t change that fact.”

Inviting worshipers to close their eyes for a moment, Son asked those gathered “to come before Jesus and just listen. He has been waiting to say this over and over, so hear what he’s saying to you: ‘Before you were born, child, I chose you. You are mine.’”

“Receive that,” Son said. “’My child, I have chosen you before the foundation of the world. You are mine.’”

Worshipers concluded the service by singing “Jesus Loves Me.”

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