Fairmeadow Community Church of The Nazarene
Christmas December 26, 2021
  • Luke 2:41–52 NRSV
    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 travelers, 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.

    Home Alone

    Family getting ready for vacation. worried about luggage and plane tickets and transportation. Unfortunately they forget to pack one thing: Their son, Kevin! Hilarious misadventures follow. Please don’t actually try this at home.

    Holy Habits

    Today we find the Holy Family-Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Jesus is not longer a baby in a manger. He is 12 years old. Among a throng of family and friends they are making their way to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover.
    In this sense they were Pilgrims on a journey to the holy city for a holy purpose. All is right and good with our story. God is with them and they are with God in the fullest sense.
    What kind of holy habits have you established in your family? These rhythms of life help us stay on track. They help new generations to learn the lessons. The family that plays together is good, very good. The family that prays together is very blessed as well.
    The best families invest in their kids when they are small. They guide them and teach them the most important lessons and try to keep the relationships close. This is important. Nobody is perfect, but the best you can do will make a big difference. When questions and rocky territory comes later, you will have more chance of keeping things together if these early years have been immersed in love and prayer.
    Because oh, difficult conversations do come. They have to. As we grow and age and new seasons of life arrive, more is called for from all of us.
    If you’re going through a time with your children or other family that is like a knife in your heart, hold on. Keep your wits about you. Keep to holy habits.

    Great Expectations

    Because some people who have started on the journey of faith never really put it into practice, but they still hold on to the label. Christian discipleship has become a journey of self fulfillment with a little God on the side. Just enough to make you feel better than your neighbor, not enough to create any inconveniences. Do you have ears to hear?
    Busy Lives Searching for Excitement and Meaning. In this country we promise the pursuit of happiness.
    This creeps into our faith. Sometimes quite overtly with preachers promising that God is here to fulfill our wishes. Somehow trusting God to live boldly in loving ways has become twisted into something else.
    Where is the line between trusting Jesus so we aren’t worried and thinking we don’t need to stay close to Him?
    Before you start off on your day, how often do you stop to check in and get your marching orders for the day from above?
    Luke for Everyone The Boy Jesus (Luke 2:41–52)

    We mustn’t assume he is accompanying us as we go off on our own business. But if and when we sense the lack of his presence, we must be prepared to hunt for him, to search for him in prayer, in the scriptures, in the sacraments, and not to give up until we find him again.

    The pursuit of happiness is not the same thing as the journey of faith. The journey of faith follows well-worn paths. Eugene Peterson called it “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”. This is book on discipleship based on the Psalms of Ascent.

    Psalm 120-134 Psalms of Ascent

    These are what Pilgrims heading to Jerusalem for a Festival would remember and perhaps sing out loud together. These Psalms talk about God’s protection, yes. But they also talk about the choices required to truly be on the journey of faith.
    They were pilgrims, not tourists. They were living with purpose. They were heading somewhere specific.
    What’s the difference between a tourist and a pilgrim? A tourist is just looking to be entertained, then it’s on to the next experience. A pilgrim is a committed disciple on a journey of spiritual significance.
    Luke 2:44–46 NIV
    44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
    At some point they realized they had lost track of Jesus. The holy habit of heading to Jerusalem with purpose had drifted into something else on the way home. But at least they understood the gravity of the situation and went looking for Jesus.

    So if we lose contact with Jesus, stop.

    Time to take inventory. Here are some questions to ask ourselves if we realize we feel distant from God and God’s ways. Are we living lives of devotion together? Are we in the company of other devoted disciples? Are we doing the things that disciples and pilgrims do? Are we in worship and discipleship regularly? These are good places to find Jesus daily. Of course you will also find him among the poor and those in need. Once we have gained some skill and spiritual success, the only way to level up is to begin pouring into someone else’s life. Helping them to grow.
    Luke for Everyone The Boy Jesus (Luke 2:41–52)

    We must expect, too, that when we do meet him again he will not say or do what we expect. He must be busy with his father’s work. So must we.

    Jesus is busy every day. But it’s not making sure we have our favorite brand of coffee or enough friends stroking our ego. He’s sharing truth and bringing people out of darkness and into the light.
    Mary and Joseph found Jesus. It took them three days. When they found him they didn’t express regret that they had lost him. I still don’t quite get that. One Sunday when our kids were young, my wife and I had to arrive at church at different times so we drove separately. Afterwards we got home and my wife said, where’s Rachel? I said what do you mean I thought she was with you? What a moment of urgency. Back into the car, flying back to church. Thankfully someone had stayed with her. Oh we were so glad. We apologized over and over and made serious effort to reassure her. We didn’t really forget her, we each thought the other had her. But we understood that she might feel forgotten. At least it was only a few minutes and not three days.
    Maybe it’s because Jesus was older. Maybe it’s because of the three days search and how things can get foggy when you are worried.
    They were pilgrims on the way to the city: very focused. Did something happen to distract them? On the way home did they disconnect and drop their guard and lose focus? Did this contribute to how they dressed him down?
    Whatever the case, Jesus did not say what they expected him to say.
    Sometimes I think we people get confused on the journey of faith, not because Jesus is so hard to understand or follow. It’s because we insert our own expectations and when we get really comfortable with that, it blows our mind when reality hits home.
    But there’s no way around the truth that Jesus must be about his father’s business. When we first come to faith we may be immature. We may think it all revolves around us. But as time goes by, God does expect more from us than that. We grow up and realize there’s work to be done, there’s love to be shared.
    As parents we don’t always get it right. Sometimes our own expectations for our kids create false expectations for the relationship. But sometimes children get it wrong also. Honesty is important. Love is important. Everyone’s perspective counts and should be valued.
    Jesus understood that Mary and Joseph didn’t have it all together yet. And hey, he didn’t have it all together yet either. But he knew where to be and when to be there. For these days, it was in the Temple, continuing the conversation sparked by the Festival. But after three days, he knew his place was at home with his family. And so he went. The lessons were learned all around. Jesus grew in wisdom and stature. Mary and Joseph grew as parents of the Son of God. They were reminded who his real Father was...
    This morning, have you made assumptions about where Jesus is? Have you lost contact? Don’t assume that Jesus is playing hard to get. Find him in the places he inhabits daily.
    As disciples we choose a path. As pilgrims we have a destination that is something more than self-fulfillment. You’ve made a good start today, you’re in God’s house or you’re connecting online. Let’s not settle for being tourists. Let’s be about the Father’s business...
    It’s Christmas. As you take some time to relax and enjoy family, remember to stay on the journey of faith. Be a pilgrim this time of year. Find Jesus and keep him close. May the wonder of this season inspire us all to live better and to love better. Let’s pray...
      • Luke 2:41–52NIV2011

      • Luke 2:44–46NIV2011

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