Posts Tagged Lost

Luke 2:41-52 Lost in Three Days

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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. [NRSV]

Jesus’s Childhood: Normal yet Extraordinary

This text is the only text where Jesus’ life between infancy and adulthood is recorded. Although a very brief description of these years, it gives us enough to think about him as a normal boy, trained well in the traditions of Judaism.

This is one of the most human and divine stories in the life of Jesus. On one hand, what parent has not a moment of experiencing a lost child story. Susanna lost in Belk department store, happily watching Barney in the children’s section. Or Luke at Turner field without his seat tickets and all the entrances began to look alike after a trip the men’s room. Or Frances…

On the occasion of Passover, Jesus’ parents, along with many other faithful Jews, took the journey to the city of Jerusalem. At some point on the return trip back to their home, they noticed Jesus was missing. They thought twelve-year-old Jesus was among the travelers. After a three-day search, to their surprise, they found Jesus in the temple in the middle of a conversation with religious teachers.

Typical of a concerned parent, Mary questions Jesus about his disappearance. She must have been very worried and upset because he had stayed in Jerusalem. Mary says, we’ve been “searching for you in great anxiety” (v.48). To which, Jesus replies, “Why were you searching for me?” Any parent would have responded with a, “What do you mean, ‘Why?’ We are your parents.” Every child know the drill. But this is the fascinating thing about this text: it enhances Jesus’ humanity, and it gives us a small, but significant entry into his family, “the holy family.”

The word for this week is “Search.” Mary and Joseph search for their lost child, Jesus. Jesus is on a search for answers; he is developing into adulthood, and—above all— discovering his mission as Son of God. I know this presents serious questions for some people regarding Jesus’ nature as both human and divine. For some, the question is, “Didn’t he understand his own divinity?” For others, the question is, “If he understands his divinity, how authentic was his experience as a human being?” The text reads, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor” ( v.52).

The epistle to Hebrews affirms Jesus’ experience as common to all other human beings, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (5:7-9). Thus, like any other human being, Jesus learned to obey his Heavenly Father. And so, we find him learning the ropes of his faith, and perhaps deepening his understanding of who is and what he is called to do as the Messiah.

The presence of the parents and the dynamic of family interactions make this text very accessible. Concerns about family life, child rearing, spiritual formation, faith discoveries, family rules, and communication between parents and youth are places where the theme of “search” can surface. Even Jesus was under the tutelage of a family; he had questions and was thirsting for truth and meaning. Jesus shows depth and maturity as a young twelve-year-old boy.

We are not privy to the content of his interaction in the temple, but he is both “listening to them and asking them questions.” Additionally, he had a grasp of the faith and tradition as “all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers” (v. 47).

This passage brings back memories of my visit to Israel. I had a chance to approach the Western Wall (or wailing wall). We carried in our pockets a list of petitions from our group to be inserted between the stones that make up the wall. We began our journey toward the wall in the middle of a huge crowd made up of hundreds of men praying. Many of them stood in circles sharing questions and answers, under the tutelage of either a rabbi or an elder Jew.

In the text, we see a very Jewish moment, with Jesus and his parents caught in between Jesus’ search for answers and Mary and Joseph’s search for their son. For us Christian listeners in the twenty-first century on this first Sunday after Christmas Day, we have an invitation to continue our search for depth and greater maturity in our faith journey.

Like Jesus, we want to have the freedom to raise questions and to share our view on things spiritual. It would be wonderful if every faith community could be that place where people would feel they could go on their own to find answers. We will always be surrounded by self-appointed leaders who like fathers and mothers will question our whereabouts, our independent thinking, or our going in the opposite direction.

There is a juggling act in this text: The important of family life and the and the uncontainable and inevitable coming of age of all human beings, and the reminder that like Jesus, we also must be about our heavenly parent’s business.

As a mother and a father, God wants us to give an account of our whereabouts, but at the same time wants us to explore, discern, ask questions, and search for answers.

In practical terms, Scripture, prayer, worship, small-group Bible studies, hymns, praise songs, serves of others, meditation, and all kinds of spiritual discipline are important tools to help us continue our search.

From different angles, this text in the Christmas season can lay a foundation for what is yet to come in the next several weeks as we see Jesus becoming an adult and fully engaged in his messianic mission.

Weekly Sermon are a chore and a Joy

I offer to you there is a weekly joy and chore about preparing sermons. Sermon preparation is a spiritual discipline in itself. The exercise of immersing in the text week in and week out can be a tedious task. It can also become monotonous and a matter of doing the job as opposed to an adventure in learning new things about ourselves, about God, and about the applications of our faith in the real world.

I have confidence that not every sermon is a homerun and not everyone listens to my words. But I truly hope that the text of Jesus being an ordinary person, with ordinary parents, finds himself not with his birth-family but with his spiritual family.

This text can motivate us to give ourselves permission to explore biblical, theological, and church matters.

Consider a presentation on the reality of family life, coming of age, and independent thinking in our children. By the same token, also consider a homiletical lesson on subjects such as: sensitivity on the part of spiritual elders toward young inquiring minds and the importance of providing spaces for in-depth discussions on faith matters.

Urgency of being Lost

The questions for us has the urgency of knowing that what we teach the next generation can be lost in a matter of days up assuming someone else has them covered or that someone else is responsible or that someone else with watching after the children while we do our own thing.

What are you and I doing to be assured that no one is left out, left behind in their spiritual journey?

Where better for us to be but in the fellowship of witnesses, teachers and co-learners at the church/temple to be about our heavenly father’s call upon our lives.

Look at the next three days. Give three step, three steps mister…

  • What can you do to be more informed about your faith in the next three days
  • What can you do to be clear that those in your family/ circle of influence are growing in faith
  • What strength, joy, hope and love will come if we do nothing and just go about our regular routines.

As the new year approaches: Look at your Spiritual Growth in three day periods:

  1. What can I do today
  2. What will I do tomorrow
  3. Who will God place in my path the day after and will I be ready to listen, teach, serve or share my faith?

 

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John 1.1-16 The Word Moved In With Us RSUMC 20150104

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Merry Christmas: Jesus Moved In With Us!

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ “) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. [NRSV]

Christmas: A Moving Story

Have you ever stopped to think about the Christmas storying has a great deal of movement.

The angel appears to Mary announcing the coming birth and she travels to visit her cousin Elizabeth.

Joseph hears about the baby and moves into action trying to fix the problem.

The government is more interested in numbers and taxes than the comfort a mother-to-be or the situation of  a new family and calls for Jesus to be born away from home in a place where people have parked their traveling animals.

The angels tell the Good News to shepherds in the field and calls them to go, leave work and job behind and visit the family.

God moves the heavens to reveal a sign for those looking for inspiration and moves the wisemen into action for a long, long journey.

As soon as Herod hears God’s Good News he is filled with fear and the family is on the run to Egypt.

The Christmas story is a moving story..

  • It is an Action film where God is moving through history, present and future to remodel the lamp that was broken and patched so many times from careless play and intentional deception.
  • You know the lamp or vase or treasure on a shelf that get’s knocked off, first by chance from playing where you knew you were not suppose to play in the first place and the consequences are the treasure gets broken.
  • You try and glue the pieces together but it’s not right, it’s not whole.
  • When the parents find the broken crack, now apparent with dried glue where there should be no glue at all. I don’t know who did it? It wasn’t my fault. It was her fault. She did it.
  • Punishment follows and yet on the next occasion to play the treasure is broken again and the fragments are more difficult to find and there ends up being more glue than parts and paint is added to cover the brokenness and..
  • over time the treasure pass through generations and the brokenness pass as well the treasure is mostly glue and paint. and in comes the Christmas story.
  • Jesus, the baby born comes to take the blame for what was broken then, what is broken now and what will be broken until the end of time.
  • Jesus moves in, to take on what has separated us from truth and wholeness and becomes the brokenness that we might be whole and true.

This is what makes the Christmas story moving.. Jesus moves in, and becomes the broken gap that makes us new.

Christmas is a moving story..

One of the reasons that United Methodist clergy move so frequently originated in a setting where the church was growing so fast that there were more congregations than preachers to preach, teach and administer churches. The circumstances has out grown that movement. [While I am grateful that system has lead me to RSUMC!!] The role in many churches is the clergy and lay leaders are overwhelmed with the task of maintaining and preserving the past as a way of appreciating donors and keeping dreams of the past alive. That is not very moving.. to live in memorial.

Christmas is Moving Story..

Because it celebrates that Jesus has moved in with us. His spirit remains with us. His body, the church, lives as a perpetual witness that the story continues. Moving through history continuing to tell that God’s love and grace are for us and not just shepherds and wisemen back then. If Christmas is only a memorial of what happened in Bethlehem it would have faded over time and some other tradition of some mythical gift-giving elf turned reindeer herder and resident of the North Pole might become more celebrated… {Oh, that’s confusing, is he talking about this is a good thing or a bad thing?} I’m just say, crazier things have happened.

Christmas is a Moving Story because it’s power travel through time

The celebration of Christmas has two more days to go in the 12 days of the season. Don’t pack up all the decoration just yet.

Jesus has come to our house and moved in with us.

I would make a case that it would be fun to have a live tree in the house all year long to help us keep Christmas all year long.

We pack up the treasures for a future occasion when we just might need to leave them out.

The day my parents dropped off my younger brother at college they went and bought the nicest stereo equipment, television and car they could afford. The next time I went the their house my response was, “What’s Up with this stuff, now? Why didn’t we have this when we lived here?” They answered, “Because you lived here then.”

As I was going through my parents house to sell it this year I found this equipment well used and worn out. It fetched only a tiny fraction of its original price tag at the yard sale. It was no longer the same treasure, but it’s lesson remains with me beyond the physical items will be long past.

So it is with Christmas, it moves in and the decorations go out, but the power of Jesus grows beyond the physical person, beyond the sheep and manger, shepherd and frankincense. (More on that next Sunday when we start the season of discovery in Epiphany)

Today, while the season of Christmas draws close the power of Christmas moves into “THE REST OF THE STORY..

Allow Christmas to move you..

Not just to remember, but to shape your present.

Not just to keep traditional alive, but to prepare to find Jesus all year, each day.

Jesus moves into our living, not just our story books, because this is where we find the struggle with power of sin.

God has moved in with us because most of the days are not holidays, folks are not kind hearts and generous, sin is a real as ever and lamps and treasures and Christmas morning toys are already broken… Thankfully God is Good, all the time.

 

Ref Note: I give thanks to the title reference to the Cotton Patch Gospel of John talking about the incarnational gift of Christmas: Jesus Christ

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Luke 15:1-10 The Found Might Be Lost JUMC 20130915

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Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” [NRSV]

What boy have ten baseball cards looses his 1915 Cracker Jack Honus Wagner card, does not search his house and bed room until he finds it and when it does find it her posts on Facebook to tell all his friends. And all his friends “Like” and comment how happy they are that he found it.

What dog breeder, who leaving ninety-nine dogs in the pen to go looking for the one who climbed under the fence and ran away. And when the breeder finds the pup, the breeder puts dog on his shoulder and carries it home with joy and celebration.

What girl having broken her grandmother’s string of pearls in her room would not sweep and vacuum up her carpet looking through the lint and trash until she finds every last one. And when she finds them all goes and tells the good news that what was lost has been found.

What stockbroker who lost their client one million dollars with a bad decision does not research and how to use the remaining 99 million to make back the one that that was lost. And when he does he is no longer afraid to call the client, but shares the good news that their account broken even that day.

What teacher, who leaving the classroom unsupervised to take the one troubled student to the school counselor comes back to the classroom and finds the students and classroom in order and on-task. That teacher rejoices and calls off the pop quiz and joy fills the class.

What politician, who leaving the 99 political party members that are in their back pocket, goes across the isles to do the right thing for the country even though the 99 are mad, threatening and hurt that he bailed on them. And all the people who elected the officials rejoiced that the people were represented over the politician’s party and popularity.

What man, having ten children, leaves at home and at work the nine who are faithful and responsible and goes into the far country to find the one that has run away. And when the father and child return that are all glad to be home together.

What mechanic, having taken apart the engine of a prized race car for cleaning and finds one custom forged bolt has been lost, does not dredge the oil pan and search the shop until he finds the part and completes the rebuild. Does he not rejoice with the others in the shop that he found the part?

What faithful church member, who having been concerned about the budget, the rules administrative council and the proper reverence of the sanctuary does not leave the guidelines behind when the needs of school children who are hunger or without warm coats; or forgets the limits of the budget and gives to send missionaries and mission teams around the world, and opens the doors of the church to show the lost that we care about them more than we care about our own. Who rejoices then?

It’s the same story through out. The parable continues to point us to see when Jesus rejoices… When the found are no longer lost and the lost are completely found.

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Luke 15:1-10 “Lose Yourself” JUMC 09122010

Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ 3 So he told them this parable: 4‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance. 8 ‘Or what woman having ten silver coins,* if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.” 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’ -NRSV

There was a certain bank teller who had 100,000 in daily transactions. At the end of the day as the tallied her drawer she was short 10,000 dollars. So the went home and hoped it would show up tomorrow? Not.

There was a certain teacher who took 100 children on a field trip and one was left at the museum. The teacher called the parents and told them that their irresponsible first grader ran off and they would have to go retrieve the child themselves. Nope

There was a certain grand parent that had ten grand children coming over to their house for Christmas. The children were eager to share a delicious meal and to share Christmas gifts. When getting out the gifts there were only nine gifts, one grand child would just be disappointed this year.. (Grandpa said, so you think she’d like my denture cleaner?)

There was a certain baseball card collector who had all 523 of the American Tobacco Company’s Baseball card set, from 1909 to 1911, for an national interview on ESPN prior to the World Series. When live feed aired he opened the protective case and realized the Honus Wagner card was missing. He doubted that anyone would notice and continued with the interview undisturbed at the loss of the card that sold for $2.35 million. NO.

There was a person who was homeless got a third shift job watching cars at the dealership. The owner loaned him a car to drive to work . He could sleep all day and make $20 an hour watching that no one entered the lot during the night. If someone came on the premises they were to call the police and owner immediately. The very first night a gang show up and hot wired one of the cars and drove that Viper away. It was not the night watchman’s car; it was a rough and dangerous group. He tried calling the police and the owner but could not reach either. Should he leave the lot full of cars and the rest of the gang near by to race after the stolen car? Are you crazy?

There was a home owner who had two children. One stayed home to take car of the parents and all the affairs and business of the family and household. The other asked for their college fund during high school, dropped out of school, raced across the country and spent all the money in less than six months and was dumpster diving to find food.
Every day the parents would check emails, voicemails, mail box for a trail of bills and wonder what had happen to their youngest child. But knowing that they had the older child to care for them the rest of their days they gave up waiting and hoping and forgot the other child had ever been around… That’s not like Jesus parables..

The powerful part of Jesus’ parables are not in the story, but in the heart of the parable’s teaching.

The contexts of the parables are to address grumblings from the Pharisees and scribes. The teachers of the law, had joy in the traditions and they shared art of sticking in the mud. They were avoiders of a change and students of preservation and order.

Jesus went to the temple at age twelve and amazed the teachers as a child. As an adult his spending time with the unclean, non-religious folks was an insult in their eyes.

The message of Jesus is that everyone needs to hear the joy that God has a claim of love and grace, no matter what they have done or become.

The Pharisees and scribes held the responsibility of reaching the people. [The Pharisees were the more progressive group, as they allowed for the possibility of Resurrection after death, the Saddusees did not, that’s why they were Sad-you-see.

Just as the church, we hold the charge of teaching, sharing, witnessing and sharing the joy of Christ with everyone. This is our message. This is our mission. This is our work.

If you knew just one person who was sad and you could cheer them, would you reach out to them?
If you know just one person who was out of work would you help them look for work?
If you knew just one person who feels alone and scared of what waits from the test results could you hold their hand and heart while they wait.
If you knew just one person who had lost so much and you could love and befriend them even if they never got any of the stuff back because you cared about them and not their things, would you be their friend through the toughness.
IF you know just one person who was grieving and you could listen through their tears and grow with them in that valley of shadows, would you do it?

Hear the Good News! Jesus is interested in everyone, and sends his disciples to everyone.

Hear the Good News! God’s heart is joyful, God is laughing, God is beaming when do what Jesus did.

So what is God doing when we act like the Pharisees and scribes who were threaten by the example and call of Jesus? No so glad. Not laughing, not beaming so brightly..

SO WHAT. So what do we do with Jesus’ stories? Are they interesting children’s messages only?

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