Sunday December 30, 2018
1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26, Psalm 148, Luke 2:41-52
In her best-selling book called, Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott, who by the way is a member of a Presbyterian Church, writes about her son, Sam, who was seven-years-old at the time.
“At seven, he is separating from me like mad and has made it clear that I need to give him a bit more room. I’m not even allowed to tell him that I love him these days. He is quite firm on this. “You tell me you love me all the time,” he explained recently, “and I don’t want you to anymore.”
“At all?” I said.
“I just want you to tell me that you like me.”
I said I would really try. That night when I was tucking him in, I said, “Good night, honey, I really like you a lot.”
There was silence in the dark. Then he said, “I like you too, Mom.”
It’s hard to be the parent of a seven-year-old, as Anne Lamott is quick to point out.
Nor is it easy to be the parent of a twelve-year-old, particularly when that twelve-year-old is none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This morning’s Scripture from the Gospel of Luke is the only story in the Bible about Jesus’ boyhood, and what a wonderful story it is. At one level the story affirms the greatness of Jesus which was even apparent in the years of his holy adolescence. Holy adolescence – now that’s an interesting concept, don’t you think! 1.)
We’ve celebrated the birth of the baby Jesus during this week.
Maybe you find it easier to relate to Jesus as a baby. Who doesn’t love babies? One reason we love babies is that babies are cute and cuddly. Babies smile straight at you. We can project our imaginings on a baby because babies can’t talk back. No baby can say, “No, I’m not like that at all. I don’t like to be pinched and cuddled. Put me down!”
This Sunday, Jesus is an adolescent. He talks back, not just to the temple authorities, not just to his parents, but also to us! I’m hoping that you will come to appreciate the twelve-year-old Jesus as much as you love the baby Jesus.
This Sunday’s Gospel helps a lot in the sense that it is here where we have the only information about Jesus’ childhood. He’s the one who is God’s Son, the one God dearly loves, is presented to us as a twelve-year-old who is a learner, a student who is able to grow “in wisdom and . . . in favour with God and with people.” It may be easier to receive Jesus as we have done this past week—Jesus as a cuddly baby in a manger—than as a smart-aleck adolescent! What went wrong with Him? It is also somewhat of a jolt to some of our preconceptions of God to find that Jesus grows and learns. Young Jesus not only answers questions but asks questions. Unfortunately it doesn’t help if we like our “god” to be high and lifted up, perfect and far removed from human life. This God comes to us as Jesus grows and develops. God has come to us as a fully human being.
That Jesus grew and developed as a human being is not only a sign of Jesus’ full humanity but also a pattern for us. If Jesus grew in wisdom, God’s desire for us is to grow as well. How sad that some of us Christians think we do not need to grow and learn. 2.)
Furthermore, if Jesus started to become an independent boy who had a mind of his own, it may only be appropriate for our own young boys and girls to eventually mature into grown-ups that function as independent adults on their own.
Like Mary, we may be overly protective of our children when they are young, or even adult, holding them back from discovering what life has in store for them.
We may be so established in a routine that we leave no space for new ventures, discovering gifts that we had never before recognised within ourselves.
God may be asking us to undertake service which requires us to re-think our attitudes and let go of long-held beliefs.
We may be holding so tightly to what we believe is our security, at the same time missing out on freedom of expression.
Letting go is never easy. It might eventually not be so bad to be like Jesus, as a boy in the temple, by asking as we enter the year 2019, “What is God asking of me and what do I need to let go of to respond to God’s call?” By “letting go” we may well commence a journey of personal discovery greater than we ever imagined possible. 3.)
When we brought our sons and daughters to be baptised, we’ve already entrusted them into God’s care. That is only in the form of consent. Yes, we already acknowledge that God will take care of them throughout their lives, regardless of what life throws at our children. We might be having a hard time trusting God to do this and to fulfill God’s promise.
I think I’m talking about myself as I say these words, just by the manner in which I was still talking to my own 23-year-old daughter Friday afternoon, trying to press her into her long-outdated “dependent role” that she had been in when she was growing up.
God knows our human condition fully, in all aspects, in more ways than we tend to admit. Let’s go into 2019 with enough divinely-inspired courage to do what needs to be done, by letting happen what needs to happen, all of this while putting our trust in God.
1.) Illustrations for December 30, 2018, on sermons.com (subscription required)
2.) William H. Wilimon, “Baby Jesus grows up” on ministrymatters.com (subscription required)
3.) Hannah and Mary: Having the faith to let go… by Audrey Francis, Posted by Brian Harris on Jan 3, 2016 in Blog on https://brianharrisauthor.com/letting-go-reflections-on-the-boy-jesus/
Copyright 2018 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church
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