Monday, January 14, 2013

Looking For Jesus?

“41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching 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 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:41-52)
And after three days they found him in the Temple… and he said to them “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
Why were you looking for me? This is what Jesus asks. Why were you looking for me?
We look for things we can’t find. We look for things we have misplaced. We look for people when we don’t know where they are. And then has it ever happened to you, that you find whatever it is, or whoever it is in just that place you knew you should have looked first? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?
It’s a rather strange thing. People tell me they are looking for God. They are trying to find him. Looking for Jesus. Sometimes they claim to have found him. People tell me this. I found Jesus. I always look askance when they say things like this. I’m tempted to say things like, “I didn’t know he was lost.” But really its that I’m a little surprised by the places that he is found. It is rarely in his father’s house. People who look for Jesus don’t look for him there. People who go to church, they aren’t looking for Jesus, they know where he is. They go to meet him. Know, people tell me that they found Jesus in jail, at A.A. meetings, drug rehab, and so on. Well Jesus is never found in such places. No, he finds you in those places. Because you like everyone else in this world are the ones who are lost. No, I have no doubt that Jesus leaves the 99 and goes out searching for the lost sheep among the crags and cliffs of this world, searching out the lost in places like jail and rehab. He is that loving a lord.
However, I am also somewhat skeptical of these encounters with Jesus. The people are happy, that makes sense enough. But they also seem to ignore what has happened there if anything happened at all. Sometimes I think they get Jesus mixed up with a pep talk for moralism or something. Because it is a very rare thing that any of them follow up and go to see Jesus where he is to be found, where he tells his parents it is the obvious place that he would be, in his Father’s house. Of course, this shouldn’t be too shocking for me. Those who know that he is there ignore that fact. Members of the church ignore it. Members of the church don’t show up. I never know what to do about that. When we who are the body of Christ, the temple of God built up as living stones ignore it, how do we expect the world to take us seriously when we tell them this is where Christ is to be found, in his father’s house, in church where the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed and the sacraments administered according to his institution.
These are the things which take the place of the temple worship today. These are what create and sustain God’s church, his faithful believers today. They may seem simple. There isn’t a lot of hype around them, and yet it is an encounter with God himself, Jesus Christ forgiving sins. I often think that is perhaps the problem. People expect something different, like Elijah standing before the mouth of the cave, he expects to find God amidst a raging wind, amidst a fire, and finally earthquake, so much does he expect to find God there, he almost misses God in the whisper. It is hard for people to fathom that it was God, if it is not accompanied by emotional outburst either of joy or tears. We expect and want to feel things. And I’m not going to say that you won’t feel anything, but you won’t always. And yet, here in the hearing of his word, that is the Holy Spirit working on you, he is in the word that doesn’t return empty, even if it doesn’t leave you in tears. In baptism? That was Jesus who took you in his arms, poured water over you, spoke his words and claimed you as his, uniting you with his death and resurrection, sanctifying you for his kingdom. This bread and wine distributed with the solemn words of his testament given on the night when he was betrayed so that he could give his life for you? Yes, it looks so simple and yet it is his body and blood given for the forgiveness of your sins, it is the Passover lamb he sacrificed, the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Yes, these are the things he has left to you, with which to build his father’s house, the temple of God with living stones. And where these things are, there is Christ, in his Father’s house, the stone that was rejected, now made the cornerstone. Asking all, why are you looking for me, don’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house? Yes, he is here. He is here for you, to forgive your sins, to strengthen you faith.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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