Posted by: skokiecentralchurch | December 30, 2012

Central United Methodist Church
“Lost”
Pastoral Intern, Stuart Salvatierra
 Holy Family Sunday
 Luke 2: 41 – 52
 December 30, 2012

I am sure that everyone here can remember a time in which they felt lost, and a time where they feel that they lost something. I remember a time in particular when I was only six years old, that was a little traumatizing, that I was lost. My father and I had gone to the grocery store to get a movie and snacks for a guys night. While looking at videos I went to look at the video games. My dad however went to the snack aisle without telling me. Little me freaked out. I was crying and miserable and all of the sudden this very nice elderly lady came over to me to calm me down. She was able to calm me down and by the time that my dad came back I was perfectly fine, and he was the one that was freaking out. Now it turned out that this old lady was one of my fathers aunts that I didn’t know, but she knew who I was and proceeded to give me dad an earful. Now I am not trying to compare myself with the Gospel or anything like that, but I am sure that everyone here has had an experience similar to this one from one point of view or another. Cause well, we are not perfect, and we lose stuff. We can even lose track of what is most important to us if we are not careful.

Now this passage in the Gospel of Luke almost seems lost. It sticks out because it is so unique and it comes in a very peculiar place. This story is the transition point between the birth of Jesus and his ministry as an adult. The time of this story was no doubt a time where things could have gotten jumbled up or misplaced. Look at this, besides the birth narrative Jesus’ entire childhood is caught up in this one story. Almost 30 years of his life is caught up in eleven verses of scripture. Let me say that again nearly thirty years is caught up in eleven verses. Some may say that this is just not good story telling, but if you ask me it means that this small space contains a great deal of wisdom for us. Those that wrote down the scripture made great use of every single word. What is important to tell was compacted down into a very small space. It is the same thing that many teachers tell their students, “make sure to write concisely.” So what is going on in the gem of scripture. Jesus and his family are in the midst of a religious pilgrimage. They are going to Jerusalem for the Passover festival.

For those who are not familiar with the Passover it is an annual telling, over a meal, of the central story of the Jewish faith. It is a retelling of the story of Exodus where the Spirit of God literally passes over the houses of the Israelites who are in bondage. The people of God leave the oppression of the Pharaoh and find themselves as a people in the desert.

When all was said and done at the Passover festival the holy family left the city to return home, but wait, here is the kicker. They left Jesus. It took them three days to turn around and find Jesus. I can only imagine the distress that both Mary and Joseph are feeling at this time. They have left the Christ child, their child, alone in a very large city. There can be little doubt that in this time that Jesus to was distressed. But by the time that he is “found” we find that he is just fine. Not only is he fine, but he doesn’t even seem to understand why his parents are freaking out. “He said to them, ‘Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’”  His parents simply did not understand what he was saying here. He was telling them that they had no reason to be worried about Him because he was in a place where he would be protected. He was in the place that his people believed God dwelled. And here he is the Son of God in God’s own house.

It is fine and dandy that Jesus was at the temple learning and teaching. In fact Mary and Joseph probably went on this pilgrimage so that Jesus could have these experiences. We can see clearly that Jesus was not in any real danger, but this time of transition, the pilgrimage itself, has been fouled up. Something has happened that nobody has expected. There was a kink in the plans. Our story is no longer a smooth story. But such is the nature of transitions. They do not always make sense. How many people have had issues with holiday travel that seemed unnecessary? In this case, Jesus’ parents just brushed aside what it was the he said and they went home. They must have been relieved at finding him, but still they didn’t hear what he had to say, and that my friends is a problem because he was giving them something good, and they were deaf to it because of the problems that came up in this time of transition. Mary and Joseph were really anxious to get home, and as such they forgot Jesus in Jerusalem. And when they found him they did not hear the wisdom that he had to share because they needed to get home so that they could continue their lives. They were so anxious to get back home that they missed this golden moment at the temple.

In many ways this is what happens to us as well, we are a little deaf. Although we live two thousand years later some things remain the same. We live in a very busy age and distractions are rampant. We have access to information at our finger tips from all over the world. It comes to us at the click of a button. We get bombarded with images no matter where we look. Companies throw advertising at us like there was no tomorrow. Our schedules become bogged down with ease. And many of us are always on the move. We just have tons of distractions. And it is hard to get away from the distractions in our lives.

No matter where we find ourselves in life we are a transitional people living in a transitional period. We are always on the move to somewhere. A popular way to say this is that we are a work in progress our whole lives. There is no way to escape this. We have seen the glory of the risen Christ but we are still awaiting his miraculous return. We are not at our beginning and we are not at our end, we are somewhere in-between. We are in a middle ground just as this scripture is a middle ground between the birth of Jesus and his ministry.

This middle ground is a foggy place, full of worries and burdens. We have trouble staying focused. Our attention goes every which way. We want to see the coming Kingdom to be sure. But there seems to be so much between now and then. We always have a lot to do. We want to have control because we have obligations and the more control we have, the less we have to worry. But in seeking more and more control something happens that we do not expect. We can wind up losing each other. In wanting to get back to Nazareth to live our lives we can forget to bring with us that which is most dear. We can forget to follow the charge that we were put on this Earth to follow in the first place.

Now. Let us go back to the discussion between Jesus and his parents. Mary asks him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” And she has every right to be anxious. Being in Christmas tide right now we know that Mary gave birth to the baby Jesus. We also know that it was the charge of Mary and Joseph to raise the baby and watch over him. We know the destiny of this child. The coming of this child was a very big deal for the people of Israel and the whole world. This was known to the holy family. And no doubt that would be a huge charge. I know that if this charge was given to me I would be freaking out all of the time. I would like to think that I would not let Jesus out of my sight. But friends I cannot make that guarantee.

So was it really the fault of Jesus that his parents went on without him? They knew the stakes that were at play. They had the pressure on them that they would be raising God. I cannot imagine that they forgot angels coming to speak to them about what their future held. Or everything that around the child’s birth. Those kinds of things would make impressions on anyone. The anxiety that the parents were feeling was coming from actions that they had taken in trying to provide for their charge. They had gotten lost in the middle ground. There is no way that they would have forgotten Jesus had they not felt like they had pressing obligations where they were coming from. They were the source of their own problems when it came to leaving Jesus and they did not even know it. They wanted what was best for him and in trying to give this they lost track of the child.

The family turned around, and went back to Jerusalem to find the child once they realized that he was gone. Only to have the response of Jesus at the temple, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” In retrospect this seems kind of obvious, the child of God being in the temple of God. But the family just did not get it. Yes is was good that they found the child. However they missed his point from when they found him. The center of their life rested with this child, rested with God. But where the holy family was not able to see, we can. We have the benefit of knowing the risen Christ. We know the future that lies in store that the Holy family was not able to see at that time. We have the benefit of hindsight for us that points us to a greater glory. Hear the good news my friends when we get distracted by all of the humming of life we are always able to go back to Jerusalem and seek the Christ child. We know where Christ will be. He is at the core of everything. He is at the temple, the holy of holies, and is there waiting for us. Our anxieties, just like the holy families, come when we put something else in front of our love for God.

So my friends in this holiday season when we can get so distracted, when we feel lost, when we feel so stressed, when we feel that something precious is missing remember that Christ is there waiting for us and is not missing at all but waiting for us to turn around. And thank God for that. Amen.

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