Jesus goes missing
I was ill over Christmas and didn't get to finish this sermon draft, much less preach it. But my first notes are here, unfinished.
41 Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44Assuming that he was in the group of travellers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.48When 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.’ 49He said to them, ‘Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ 50But they did not understand what he said to them.51Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour.
• I went walking one night… my Mum was terrified. Even my Dad was worried. Didn't come back for hours. Couldn't understand the fuss. Luke is telling us a true story of family life!!
• One day we have to leave so thoroughly that the family fears the worst… … we understand that if we don't "leave home" and become our own person we never grow up.
• So this is, at one level, a psychological text: we have to become our own person.
• But the bible is not a psychological book as such, it's a spiritual book. We have to let the spiritual be born in us. The story is saying we have to be born spiritually and leave home in that sense. Otherwise the separation from our parents is no different to a kid who starts going to the pub. It's a kind of infantile separation, a rebellion that says, "I'm different," but doesn't grow up— this is not what happens in Jesus' story. He goes home with his parents and grows in stature and maturity.
• These words are meant to remind us of the boy prophet Samuel.
Mary' song the Magnificat is based on the song Hannah sang about Samuel
Mary's child grows in maturity and stature like Samuel. He becomes Eli's real/spiritual son, unlike his natural sons who "did not grow up" and were evil.
• This is a story about relating to God. The names are full of God:
Eli is God is High.
Samuel means Name of God or Heard of God.
Jesus means God saves.
• We know the story is a spiritual story because we find Jesus not in a pub or a brothel, but in the temple. He did not merely become his own person… he is in his father's house. We are not our own people… we need to give ourselves to the greater reality of the universe— to our "Father's" house.
• This is easier for Jesus than our in our time, perhaps. The traditions of the faith had been taught to him. His family were devout. They made the long journey to the Passover festival each year. But even Jesus had to accept the irruption of spirit into his life to become whole. God chooses to come to us. Something not altogether polite here… the angel didn't ask Mary if she would like to be have a baby….
• That might be more the seat of where our problem is. We are a people who want to stay in control— we think this is our right— even in church. The notion that God might come into us, into our lives, is not popular… unless it is the popular heresy of prosperity theology which preaches that God will make us rich if we do the right thing— they are inviting God in.
• We are taking about something else: God invites Gods self— often when it's not convenient for us.
• Sometimes people interpret the conception of Jesus as an assault upon Mary, but the stories show Mary— and Jesus— as strong and potent people. Mary is no demure, retiring virgin, and Jesus is not "meek and mild" in any modern sense of these words. These are both wild people who have been brought to a completeness by the irruption of God into their lives by the birthing of spirit.
• They are who we are meant to be— people in tune with the universe, material and spiritual, people being seized and converted by love and justice. We are not meant to be weak worshippers enslaved by the consumerist idols of western materialism.
• A colleague— you know Rev Angie— was driving home along Tapley's Hill Road yesterday. The queue to Harbor Town went all the way up to Sir Donald Bradman Drive and almost back to Airport Road. This is a profound illness: the Temple of Consumerism throws open it's doors to call us away from the True Temple of Spirit. The nation which sensed love and generosity and compassion on Friday flees back to its true Gods on Saturday.
• What is climate change? Climate change is the result of a world which has worshipped material growth; it has denied the parameters of its reality; denied biological necessity, and in less than a century brought its own environment to its knees. Climate Change is a symptom of spiritual disease?
• How will we be reborn?
• How will we learn to live in tune with Spirit?
• How will we allow ourselves to be healed?
• This is something ongoing. We may have a moment when we recognise a conversion in us, but spiritual healing and wholeness proceeds over a life time.
• The first thing is we cannot do this. We cannot make God come. We cannot order God around. We can only be ready… only be open.
• We ready ourselves— we open ourselves— by turning our backs on the Gods of this age. We seek to" live in our father's house," We focus on the things of God. The only way I know is love, be compassionate, seek to be generous, stop buying better electronics, new cars…. all of these things focus our lives in the wrong places.
• Food is designed with fat sugar, salt and crunch to make us want more. Poker machines are designed to make us want more. So are computer games. Advertising tries to make us dissatisfied, so that we will try to satisfy ourselves by buying more. This is drug pedalling! And the drugs blind and deafen us to spirit.
• Compassion and generosity and giving kind of focus us to turn our backs on these things.
• But living in the house of God also implies steeping ourselves in the tradition. It is designed to open us to spirit. It teaches us the language. It means we can recognise spirit when it flows into us. So we can feed on that instead of fat, salt, and electronics…
... and I never got to finish the sermon and went to bed for a week, instead. How would you finish this?
Direct Biblical quotations in this page are taken from The New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please note that references to Wikipedia and other websites are intended to provide extra information for folk who don't have easy access to commentaries or a library. Wikipedia is never more than an introductory tool, and certainly not the last word in matters biblical!