Posted on Wed, Dec 30, 2015
December 27, 2015
2nd Sunday in Christmas
Gospel: Luke 2:41–52
The Boy Jesus in the Temple
41 Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43 When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44 Assuming 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. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 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.’ 49 He said to them, ‘Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 Then 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 favor.
Before Seminary but after college, I remember sitting with my friends and we were fascinated with the topic about, “what was Jesus like as a child, toddler, child, middle school ager and then a young adult?” I became so enthralled with this topic; I would drive down from Minneapolis to St. Olaf College and spend the day in the library looking for any book about Jesus as a youth. There were few to none that could be called theologically helpful. There are those stories of a boy Jesus playing in the mud on the side of a pond or river, making some shapes and then turning them into birds that flew away. These are fun stories but not very useful. There are tons of stories of gods from many religions doing all kinds of these kinds tricks that are obviously paranormal, but they aren’t helpful for building, creating or strengthening faith.
The story for today is not about Mary and Josephs parenting skills. It may seem shocking that Mary and Joseph “lost” Jesus for about three days. This may sound absolutely unacceptable in our minds, but at 12 years old, Jesus was hardly considered a little boy; plus, when the Mary and Joseph and all the families from Nazareth took their annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem, they traveled as a large group for safety for there were bandits on the roads that preyed on pilgrims walking far distances to Jerusalem for Passover and everyone was responsible to watch each other’s kids.
Remember, Luke is trying to help people “in love with God,” or people searching for God to understand who exactly Jesus was as the Messiah to the Jews and the Savior to the Gentiles. Remember the name of the person Luke seems to be writing his Gospel of Jesus to, “Most Excellent Theophilus.” The name, ‘Theophilus’ is more of a description than a persons name; it simply means ‘One who loves God,’ or something like that. Is it a person? Or is it anyone in search of God? When your goal is to proclaim Jesus as the Christ, it really doesn't matter to us.
But Luke does give us important hints to help us substantiate who Jesus was as our Savior. Luke makes it clear that Mary, Joseph and other families from Nazareth make the journey to Jerusalem every year for the Passover. Luke is helping us to understand Jesus was raised in a very faithful Jewish family. At this time in his life, Jesus is very much an ‘insider’ in the Jewish world and familiar with the traditions, customs and laws of the Torah.
Then, as we read the Gospel of Luke, we must always be asking ourselves, “If Luke’s purpose is to teach us about Jesus, especially to help us make the connection between the prophets prophecies about the coming Messiah, and Jesus own words and actions, what is his purpose for giving us these details?” The Gospel of Luke is a teaching book, trying to help us understand who Jesus really is as Man, God and Savior all rolled up in this one person.
Luke then tells us that Jesus is found where? Not in the game room, but in “His Father’s House” listening, asking questions AND answering their questions!
Who are the ones surprised? It was the learned and educated men! Luke is trying to tell us that from the start Jesus was in touch with his own identity and was familiar with all he would be teaching.
There will be other times Jesus will refer to the temple as His ‘Father’s House,’ and one of the times is when he will return as an adult, filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will be angry at how people had turned “His Father’s House into ‘den of thieves’ when it is supposed to be a ‘House of Prayer.’”
In Jesus’ day, the temple in Jerusalem was truly viewed as the place where God resided. It was not God’s idea to have a temple, it was something the kings of Israel had demanded, and even Herod, but our God is a living God that cannot be contained with stones, logic or even human understanding. Our God can only be understood by none-believers by WHAT WE CONFESS with our words and actions God has done through Jesus Christ. We are a “Confessing Church” not limited by walls or buildings, but only the Words we confess are true and what we believe.
You all know what I say to people who come here and after they have taken in the beauty say things like, “this is the most beautiful church in the world!” and the only natural thing I can respond back it, “yes, and the building isn’t bad either.”
Do you understand what I am trying to tell them when I say that? The building does not make the church, the faith of the people does! If you are only coming to Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church because it is gorgeous and there is a great view, then you are missing the point of the existence of this amazing place!!!!!! Whether the building is standing or not, there will be worship here. More than once I have removed all of my books, communion sets and instruments in fear that this place would be destroyed by a tsunami and I had to prepare to do ministry as if I was “standing on a pile of rubble.”
The reality is, the worship space and how the space is arranged, like the Gospel of Luke, has been created to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus, in and of itself. Let’s look at our surroundings.
Sadly some “churches” have done away with the Cross and Altar for various reasons. Mostly because marketing studies tell us that people don't want to be reminded that we are sinners and broken people in need of redemption and a savior… if we look at a church worship setting and see a stage without and altar, cross, pulpit or baptismal font, it tells me someone does not really understand the importance of worship space, the symbols the movement of worship and is not really being honest with the reason God sent us Jesus Christ as the greatest and most important gift of all.
There is so much more to explain about our worship setting and the purpose for each of our actions, prayers, songs etc. but the one thing I witness every Sunday is that people come here because it is our heart that needs to be here. It is our heart speaking honestly to our brains saying, “I need to do some talking to Jesus, I need to hear that I am forgiven and healed, I need to sing thanksgiving, and I need to taste Jesus… even though it is only a wafer and a drop of wine or juice.” I can see it in the faces that come down for communion, and I know why in many of our life stories.
Luke tells us that Jesus needed to be “in His Father’s House,” your heart, whether broken, or filled with gratitude is the same. We too, as Children of the most high God, must be in this holy place to confess, hear absolution, be fed with the Gospel and the meal, and sent out on our way into a world that is desperate to know that it is loved. Amen.
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