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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Focus: All In The Family

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover.  And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival.  When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.  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. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.  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."  He said to them, "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. Luke 2:41-52

It is an article of our Christian faith that Jesus is, was and will always be God, the Second Person of the Trinity. It is a further article of faith that Jesus was all man and all God right from the moment of his conception. What this week’s gospel tells us is that the divine nature of Jesus, while ever present, emerged only as he grew in age and wisdom. In other words, it took time for Jesus to emerge as the Christ. And that time was spent in the world’s finest finishing school … a loving, nurturing family.

As we saw in last Sunday’s gospel, the cornerstone of this family was Mary, the youngster who courageously responded to sudden, awesome responsibility. In the first chapter of Matthew, Joseph is simply described as: a good man…modest praise for a modest man, God’s picked protector and provider into whose care the Messiah was entrusted. And as we learn in this week’s gospel, Jesus was a child prodigy who astounded the temple elders with his wisdom. As many parents can attest, a prodigy in the family can be a mixed blessing at best. There is the pride of accomplishment and the promise of great potential. But then there is the fatigue of coping with elevated energy levels and constant curiosity. And lurking somewhere is the fear that all this creative power might somehow prove destructive.

While scriptural accounts of Christ’s early family life are limited to this brief passage, it speaks volumes of his formation and of his family. It tells us of a boy beginning to discover who he is and why he is here. He honors Mary and Joseph, but he knows he must be about his Father’s business. The gospel records that Mary kept all of this in her heart; an understatement if ever there was one. But, tellingly, there is no account of Joseph’s reaction. From the moment he had learned that his betrothed was with child, Joseph did as the angel of the Lord bid him to do. And from the birth in the stable, through the flight into Egypt, to the heartache of a lost child in the big city, Joseph was constant and dutiful. There is no record of griping or whining, only the silence of obedient service. Remember: this wasn’t a job Joseph had saught. He was drafted. Through an angel, the Lord told him what to do. Joseph did it and continued to do it, throughout a lifetime of dedicated, demanding service that can only be imagined.

As Joseph and Mary could attest, and as we’ve all seen over and over, family life is not an endless episode of Ozzie and Harriet. There is miscommunication and non-communication. There is disappointment and anger. There are forces loose that can tear a family apart a hundred times over. The unspoken lesson of this gospel is the power of forgiveness. Without grand gestures or ringing oratory, this is a manifestation of the glue that holds families together. In shock and surprise, we forgive. In disappointment and frustration, we forgive. In lingering, nagging resentment, we forgive. Even in pain and fury, we forgive.

How appropriate that as Mary’s precocious child takes these early steps to becoming the Christ, we have a timeless example of family forbearance and forgiveness. Don’t let this gospel go to waste. Give yourself the gift of forgiveness. Share it with your family and those who should be your brothers and sisters in Christ. For giver and receiver, it is the ultimate win/win gift. The price is right. Delivery is free. Satisfaction is guaranteed. And the more you use the gift of forgiveness, the fresher, brighter and better it gets. Our Operator is always standing by. Call him today.

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