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Sunday Service 15th January


The Lost Child

15/1/23

Call to worship

Hymn 771: If you believe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUopVtrKSno


Time for all


Hymn 632: Our children, Lord, in faith and prayer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9b1XLdT7fks


Reading: Luke 2: 41-52 Gil

Prayer


Hymn: Jesus’ parents left the temple


Sermon

Prayer of Dedication

Hymn 132: Immortal, invisible God only wise

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oGuGzCFEWI

Benediction

Welcome to our reflection for 15th of January.

It is a time of the mundane.

The Christmas tree and decorations are away for another year.

The nights are still dark and we are waiting for the first flowers to bring in spring.

And while we wait we just get on with life.

And here is our challenge for today; do we get on with life...with God?

Well we will look at that after Gil gives us our reading for today.



Sermon


We get into a rhythm of life. We wake up, we do things, hopefully we are reasonably content as we do whatever we do; and then we go to bed and do the same thing the next day.

That is until something changes.

And often we haven’t realised that something has changed until it clashes with whatever we normally do.

My nephew’s partner was like that, everything was really normal: then she got pregnant. I am sure that for a while she didn’t realise she was pregnant, but things had changed, and it was only a matter of time before that change clashed with her normal. And it did.

And that became the new normal for a while.

What she didn’t know was that her appendix was a bit iffy, it was changing too. And for a long while she never noticed that.

Things had changed, and things would change, but she carried on, until things went bad.

And suddenly normal was not normal any more.

An emergency appendectomy, sepsis followed.

And suddenly things stopped being normal, until things settled down again and a new normal was created.


It is life, it is mundane, it happens all the time.

And it is happening in our reading today.


What has changed is that Jesus is getting older. Near the time when he is regarded as a man in the eyes of the community.

But he is still a boy in the eyes of his parents.

This will cause a clash, and a new normal, but they don’t know it yet.


You see normal had been normal for quite a while.

Every year they went to the temple for Passover.

There would have been Joseph, Mary, and no doubt by now, the children, plural; brothers, sisters to Jesus.

Everyone knew the set up.

Joseph and the men were in one group, the women and the children were in the other group. At night the family would meet up and spend the night together.

But this year Jesus was 12. Like any older child I am sure given the choice that he would want the adventure of being somewhere different, with his dad in the men’s group. But then maybe during the day that got boring so he joined his mother and the other children, until that got boring and he rejoined his dad.

Over the three or four days it took to travel to Jerusalem he may have migrated from one group to the other five or six times.




Then on the way back they are travelling for the full day; Mary thinking Jesus is with Joseph, Joseph thinking Jesus is with Mary.

By the time they meet up at night and realise what has happened it is pitch black. There is nothing they can do, they can’t go back to Jerusalem at night, it would be too dangerous to travel at night with the other children. So the next day they travel back. That’s two days gone by.

It is hard to imagine what state they would have been in by then.

We lost Iona once in a town we were visiting for the day when she was about 10. We only lost her for about half an hour, it still feels like the longest half an hour of my life.

On the third day they finally find Jesus and come out with the very predictable, ‘What were you thinking? Do you know what you have put your father and I through?’


And Jesus, being a 12 year old boy, basically comes out with, ‘But I was fine.’


Here is my insight for what it is worth.

There is a great temptation when we are reading the Bible to see the epic in everything.

This was a momentous moment.

Jesus was beginning to see his path forward.

He was glimpsing his relationship with his Heavenly Father and moving away from his earthly parents.

Jesus was beginning to distance himself from the responsibilities of the elder child and beginning to see his great heavenly mission to save the world.

Poor Mary and Joseph, being simple peasants, couldn’t yet see the greatness that was in Jesus and ahead of him.


But maybe, just maybe, Luke is reminding us that Jesus was part of a normal family.

And in a normal family a child will get lost at some point, and parents will freak out at the child being lost.

In every family the children grow and at some point there is a clash between the child being older and the parents forgetting that the child isn’t younger.

In every family the relationships between parent and child changes as the child gets older and at some points there is friction at these moments as both parent and child try to work out the new relationship.

It is so normal it is mundane.


And maybe that is the point that Luke is trying to make.

There were other gospels written, Gospels that were rejected by the church because they were regarded as just weird, and these other Gospels had times of Jesus’ childhood in them.


And like any book that wants to paint their leader in a great light they fall to the temptation of making Jesus spectacular.


In these gospels Jesus has collected water in a dam he made, which he was going to use to make clay sparrows, then being Jesus he would make them come alive. Of course he did this on a Sabbath which was wrong, but when people complained that he had broken the Sabbath, Jesus just told the birds to fly away.

One of the other children, jealous of what Jesus had done, then breaks the dam and Jesus puts a curse on the boy and he dies.

Because the fact is that you don’t mess with our Messiah, no matter what age he is. So the parents take the boy to Mary and Joseph and complain that Jesus has killed their boy so Mary admonishes Jesus and Jesus brings him back to life.


You see the temptation is that because Jesus is spectacular then his whole life has to be spectacular, like some kind of super hero that has to go through trails.

And then the temptation is to wonder why that Jesus would bother with someone like us.

Because most of the time we are not spectacular, we are pretty mundane and get on with our pretty mundane lives.

We look after our families, we meet up with our friends, we try to do a wee bit of good when we see the opportunity, we rarely go out of our way to do someone harm.

We make mistakes, we get things wrong, we try to make up for it.

So why would Jesus, who is so great and wonderful and spectacular, bother with someone like us?


I think this is why Luke put this simple family story in the Bible, to remind us that God cares about the mundane, he cares about us.

Jesus didn’t come to save the world;

he came to save the world...one ordinary life at a time.


The question then becomes, not whether our life is mundane,

but whether we are bringing God into the mundane.

As we do our shopping are we thinking of God, because if we did then maybe we would be more open to the wonder of all that food in the shops, and become more grateful and thankful.

As we wait on the bus to go into town, or wait in a queue to pay for our shopping are we thinking of God, because if we did then maybe we would notice the concern on the others waiting, or the tiredness of the shop assistant, and then maybe we would say something to encourage them.

As we watch the television at night are we thinking of God, because if we did then maybe one of the characters would remind us of someone and we would think of phoning them and just making sure they were all right.

Maybe an extreme form of that would be watching some detective programme and thinking of someone we wished was the victim. Well if we were thinking of God at that moment then maybe we would consider forgiving them, or maybe trying to reconcile with them.


It is the wonder of God in the mundane.

I was touched by the story in the radio programme, Sideways.

It’s December 2013 and Toni Osborne is struggling, emotionally and financially. She’s five pence short of keeping her electricity on over Christmas. As she heads out into the night to ask her local shopkeeper for help, a homeless man appears and asks for some change. This is Jack Richardson, and when she bursts into tears, it prompts him to give Toni his last five pence. This simple act of giving gave both of them hope. In the end it rippled out and affected both of them for good over the next decade.

I would say it is God in the mundane.


It is that time of year when life just goes on and on.

It is a time of the mundane.

The Christmas tree and decorations are away for another year.

The nights are still dark and we are waiting for the first flowers to bring in spring.

And while we wait we just get on with life.

And here is our challenge for today; do we get on with life...with God?

Jesus lived a mundane life most of the time, what made it special was that he lived it with God.

We can do the same.



Loving God,

We often go on about the special places where we can meet you, and those places do feel special to us because we have encountered you there,

maybe in a church or on a special walk or at a special time, a sunset or sunrise.

And we have felt your presence and felt we are in a sacred place.


And we so long for those places where life seems special.


And maybe in doing so have neglected the common places, the everyday places.

We may even have got it into our head that we can only meet you in the sacred places and the common places we are left alone.


Remind us that you are everywhere.

That there is no place that you haven’t created, no place that doesn’t have the touch of your love within it.

Especially in the common and mundane, that there is no place, no time in our life, that you are not closer than the air that we breathe.


Loving God, you long to connect us to and guide us forward each day,

may we continue to look for you in unexpected places that become sacred.

That they become sacred because we find you there,

and wherever you are found may that be a home for us.

Amen.

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