In reading this week’s Gospel reading I wasreminded of the stories we hear on the news ofparents who unintentionally leave a childsomewhere.Some of these parents tend to be first time parents. Ifell into this category. When my first son was about aweek old I needed something from the store. A quickrun to Newt’s would only take a few minutes. Itwasn’t until I was in the car backing out the drivewaythat I realized, Whoa, there is a baby all by himselflocked in that house. The former Prime MinisterTony Blair also fell into this category. Then there are parents who may be at a largegathering and assume another family member orfriend is taking their child with them. The poor childis left and it isn’t until the parent or family memberssee the child on the news they realize the child is notwhere they think he is.
Then there is the family that has many children, somany that leaving one goes unnoticed. I love themove “Home Alone” poor Kevin is the youngest childof a family that has a plethora of children and is leftbehind as the family leaves for a dream vacation inFrance.And I think we have all heard of families who haveto backtrack many miles to where they left a childwhen on a pitstop while traveling on a road trip. Leaving Jerusalem, Joseph and Maryinadvertently leave Jesus. They each thought Jesuswas with the other. In reading the scripture for this morning I initiallywondered, “If you are the parents of the Son of God”don’t you keep pretty good track of Him? Did theybecome so complacent in their daily lives that Jesuswould have been overlooked? Were they frazzled bythe packing and thought of the long journey home? Iwas curious as to how they could not notice that He
was missing. I mean you are traveling with yourhusband and son at some point you are going tolook at your husband and wonder where is my son.So I did some research on traveling in the FirstCentury, especially pilgrimages, which is what theJoseph family was doing, taking a pilgrimage toJerusalem for Passover. We are told in today’spassage that Jesus’ parents traveled to Jerusalemevery year for the Feast of Passover.Travel in the First Century was a dangerousundertaking and not done alone. For Pilgrimageswhole villages and extended families would traveltogether. Women and men traveled in their owngroups with the women and children leaving firstbecause they traveled more slowly than the men.Soit is not hard to imagine that Mary thought Jesus waswith Joseph and Joseph thought He was with Mary. I can imagine the scene at the end of the firsttravel day. The men catch up to the women and
children and go to check on their families. Josephfinds Mary and as they chat about the day’s travel,Jesus is mentioned and Mary says, “but I thought hewas with you” and Joseph says, “ I thought he waswith you.” Looks of panic are exchanged and thenthey each set off to question others in the caravaneven though they each know he is not around. Theyhave to wait until the next morning to travel back toJerusalem where they spend another frantic daysearching in vain. We are not told why they finally went to theTemple. Possibly they went to pray or maybe to lookfor more help. But that is finally where they findJesus. In the whole New Testament today’s reading is theonly passage that tells us anything of Jesus as achild. Luke includes this story because of itsimportance. It is an important passage because itshows that even at His young age Jesus knows he
is God’s son and is obedient to God first. He is aboutHis Father’s business. He is obedient to Mary andJoseph but God, His Father, is First. That isprecisely what he tells Mary and Joseph when asked“What in the world does he think he is doing andwhy in the world did he not stay with his family?” Hestates, “Did you not know I would be in my Father’shouse?” In fact He is amazing those in attendanceat the Temple. We are told in the passage that He isseated with the teachers, listening and askingquestions. They are amazed at his answers. Heunderstands fully the questions asked of Him andeven impresses them with his own questions.Everyone is impressed;everyone but Joseph andMary. They were hurt and upset. Mary and Joseph both knew Jesus was the Son ofGod. It was pretty hard to miss, both being visited byan angel and having your son worshiped on the
night of his birth and being visited by Magi bearinggifts. So even though Joseph and Mary have hadDivine experiences, the full impact and reality of whoJesus wasand what would take place, could nothave entered their thoughts and minds.Since they didnt really grasp who He is, theycouldnt immediately know where would be.Today’s passages tell us they had no idea what hewas talking about. The passage ends with Jesus obediently leavingwith Joseph and Mary and tells us he lived inobedience with them. The passage also tells us thatMary held that dearly to her. I can surely imaginethat.Mary and Joseph did not have the luxury ofreading about their lives in the Gospels. Theyreacted as any human parents would even if we hadangelic visits, and it would have been confusing,difficult, and maybe even frustrating being parents tothe Messiah.
Losing Jesus and finding Jesus.Even as I was trying to figure out how Mary andJoseph could have lost Jesus I realized that losingJesus is fairly easy. We get busy and if we don’tactively keep Jesus with us we lose Him. FindingHim, like Mary and Joseph found out is hard. Weseem to find Him at His birth at Christmas and shoutHallelujah at His resurrection at Easter, but inbetween do we keep Him near us?Where is He to be found in our lives? How do wekeep Him close when we are so busy going aboutour daily lives? Like Mary and Joseph we get caughtup in the mundane things of our ordinary lives andforget Jesus. To find Jesus we must find God. Where and howdo we do that?To do that we mustslow down, seek a quiet place,actively listen for that small, quiet voice.Look, actively look at God’s work in our lives.
To see Jesus we must have eyes to see and ears tohear. With that we see Jesus everywhere. We see Jesus in the relief workers like Bob andJo’s daughter Wanda, we see Jesus here in thischurch in the Food Pantry, we see Jesus in our PlaySchool and Play Ark Day Care as they docommunity outreach projects, we see Jesus aliveand well in our offerings that are used here in ourchurch and community and also used around thiscountry and abroad. We see Jesus as we cometogether each fall in our CropWalk. We see Jesus inour Children’s Circle, we see Jesus in Susan as sheleads our children in their explorations of the bible inSunday School, we see Jesus in our music leadersfor the Chancel Choir, the Jubilee Ringers, theChime Choir, Henry whose hands craft the music onthe organ. We see Jesus in our fellowship with oneanother here in worship and the fellowship wespread as we interact with others in our daily lives.
We should see Jesus in every face we see in ourdaily lives and act accordingly. Is that easy? Certainly not. I don’t find it easy, Idon’t know many people who do find it easy or eventhink about the people they meet that way. Whomeets a new person and thinks of them as Jesus?Who looks at a homeless person or a person with adrug problem as Jesus? We run into all kinds ofpeople we would rather not bother with or who justseem to rub us the wrong way. Is that seeing Jesus?Jesus teaches us that everyone is to be treated withrespect and love. I have met a few people who treateveryone they meet with open hearts, these peopleamaze me. I aspire to be them, to live with an openheart. Like Jesus. If we look for Jesus in all these things we can alsosee Him in so many other places, we can hear Hisvoice ring out in so many other places. It is up to usto be His voice, His hands, His feet. That is His
mission to us, that we spread His Word and deedsto others with open minds, open hearts, open hands,with the resources that we have. As Jesus told Mary and Joseph, “didn’t you know Imust be about my Father’s business?” so must webe about Jesus’ business. I know I used this story the last time I spokeand itfits this lesson so well I am using it again. It is thestory by Tolstoy. Before I had paraphrased it, today Iwill tell it in its entirety.An old shoe cobbler who dreamed one ChristmasEve that Jesus would come to visit him the next day.The dream was so real that he was convinced itwould come true.So the next morning he got up and decorated hislittle cobbler shop and got all ready for Jesus tocome and visit. He was so sure that Jesus wasgoing to come that he just sat down and waited forHim. And he waited and he waited and he waited.The hours passed and Jesus didnt come.
But an old man came. He came inside for a momentto get warm out of the winter cold. As the cobblertalked with him he noticed the holes in the old mansshoes, so he reached up on the shelf and got him anew pair of shoes. He made sure they fit and that hissocks were dry and then sent him on his way.Still he waited and waited and waited but Jesusdidnt come.But an old woman came who hadnt had a decentmeal in two days. They sat and visited for a while,and then he prepared some food for her to eat. Hegave her a nourishing meal and sent her on her way.Then he sat down again to wait for Jesus. He waitedand waited but Jesus still didnt come.Then he heard a little boy crying out in front of hisshop. He went out and talked with the boy, anddiscovered that the boy had been separated from hisparents and didnt know how to get home. So he puton his coat, took the boy by the hand and led himhome.When he came back to his little shoe shop it wasalmost dark and the streets were empty. The dayhad nearly passed and yet Jesus never came. In amoment of despair he lifted his voice to heaven andsaid, "Oh Lord Jesus, why didnt you come?"
And then in a moment of silence he seemed to heara voice saying, "Oh shoe cobbler, lift up your heart. Ikept my word. Three times I knocked at your friendlydoor. Three times my shadow fell across your floor. Iwas the man with the bruised feet. I was the womanyou gave food to eat. I was the boy on the homelessstreet."The cobbler was looking and looking for Jesus, butdidn’t know where to look or what Jesus would looklike. He just couldn’t “see” Jesus.He wasnt looking in the right places.To find Jesus, you have to know Him, and you haveto know where to look. People who really knowJesus can see Him everywhere. But again, you haveto know Him, to see Him and recognize His voice.Amen.