Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. [NRSA]
For starters, it’s still Christmas season and its not too late to find Jesus.
My guess is that we have covered in the last 50 years of Peanuts,(TM) Linus rendition of the first part of Luke’s Gospel about the decree from Ceasar Agustus, the baby born in the manger, the shepherds and the heavenly multitude, but have we found Jesus?
One of my favorite lines from the Forrest Gump movie is when Sergeant Dan asks Forrest if he had found Jesus, to which Forrest replies, “I didn’t know he was lost.”
While the passage for today gives us a rare glimpse into the childhood of Jesus, it also gives an opportunity to identify with losing Jesus. And the how quickly we lose what we think we have. Rather than asking have you found Jesus, we need to ask more often: Have you lost him?
The story of the parents, Mary and Joseph, who found favor and blessing to be the parents of Jesus as good and faithful folks, they too lose connection for a variety of reasons in one passage:
The parents were busy doing what moms and dads do and in those responsibilities and distractions a door is opened to focus on themselves than on Jesus.
Can we turn off the TV, stop talking about work, stop worrying about the grown-up things to play-teach-listen-and-be present without children and grandchildren? (Not entertaining, distracting or pacifying them, rather being present with them, doing nothing else.)
As important as Parental/Adult/Grownup responsibilities demand, they are not more important than time present with Jesus.
We certainly know what ‘you’ and ‘I’ are when we ASSume. What does one day assuming we have Jesus securely in our lives look like. What’s one day?
The classic Christmas movie, Home Alone, points to the room for evil and fear to take hold when we leave Jesus behind. And it happens most likely unintentionally.
But in the real world, what could be so bad about one day without praying? Without reading? Missing one Sunday? Missing one time of service? Not only are we missed by God and others we never expected, but ‘we’ also make ourselves vulnerable.
It starts the downward spiral if “I can do it by myself.” which we started at age two and somehow favor over “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Don’t assume Jesus is with you, check in daily, hourly, with every breath.
Mary and Joseph were at the point of fear and anxiousness in dealing with the absence of Jesus. Rather than being in communication in the first place, there is the moment when we see the fear of what life looks like without Jesus leading us.
How devastating our perspective becomes when we are grieving. It is a natural process of dealing with loss. It might be the loss of a relationship, a job, a dream, or any other confrontation with separation.
Frantically, Mary and Joseph begin to search. The look, they ask, the retrace where they had been. Jesus is right where they left him. Mary and Joseph were distracted, preoccupied, assuming someone else had their relationship for them; they begin to recognize the separation and are each torn by fear, anxiety and grief. From their place separation, they begin to search.
The search until they find Jesus. Our journey toward Jesus is the remedy for sin and separation: “We search until we find.”
Some folks are searching for “God’s love in the flesh” and mistaking that for physical things and physical feelings and physical relationships. These physical things are all part of our human experience, but the ‘things’ that gets lost is our spiritual self, our spiritual relationship, our spiritual nature.
As we conclude the Christmas season, let us make sure, for all the gifts given, received, exchanged and returned, that we are certain we start the new year having found Jesus, fresh and new.