Alas, the liturgical year continues to unfold. It takes no notice of tired preachers with desires for long winter’s naps. So here we are with this week’s texts trying to look up from the manger long enough to figure out what to say on the Sunday after.
I’m never quite sure what to do with the Samuel text because it feels out of place in the Christmas season. Yes, Samuel was special and has a role to play in the story and maybe some of you are preaching Samuel’s story this week. However, I can’t escape the pull of the gospel story.
When I was younger, I put all the blame on Mary and Joseph. How could they possibly lose track of their beloved son? In the years since, I realize just how easy it is for children to get lost in crowds, especially crowds of familiar faces. This year I find myself having great sympathy with Jesus’ parents. Where did he go? He was just with us and now we can’t find him anywhere.
Sometime between the carols and candles of Thursday night and worship Sunday morning, many of us will have lost track of Jesus. Our words will echo the words of Mary and Joseph. He was just here. We knelt in front of that manger and sang our praises. Where did he go? It will be hard not to lose sight of Jesus in the crowds rushing to post-Christmas sales and packing away decorations. After all, the rest of the world moves on just as quickly, if not more so, as the liturgical year.
Of course, when Mary and Joseph find Jesus he is in the Temple doing exactly what one might expect the future Messiah to be doing. Where did you think I’d be? Why would I not be in my Father’s house doing the work of the One who sent me? Seriously, Mom!
People have spent so much time and energy looking for Jesus over the centuries. He shows up periodically here and there and people take notice. The text is a road map for finding Jesus. I want to paint these words on the wall of the sanctuary to remind folks how to embody Christ. What if we all treated one another with kindness and love, wisdom and grace, honoring Christ with all our words and deeds? It wouldn’t be so easy for Jesus to get lost in the crowds then…
So, what’s on your mind and in your heart for this first Sunday after Christmas? Do you feel like you’ve lost Jesus or are you right there in the Temple with him doing the work of God? Maybe you are on the front steps with me, knowing that Jesus is waiting but feeling a little worn out and not quite ready to keep going on this chaotic, beautiful, painful, wonderful pilgrimage? Whatever you are up to for this week’s preaching, may the Spirit guide you with energizing wisdom and surround you with joy of serving our God.
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