Human and Divine - Weekly Reflections 12-23-15

 Texts for Sunday, December 27, 2015
 1st Sunday after Christmas

 1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26
 Psalm 148
 Colossians 3:12-17
 Luke 2:41-52

From last Sunday to this Sunday we jump from a newly pregnant Mary to a 12 year old Jesus.

I think we missed something, don’t you? Like Luke 2:1-20

An ordinary couple traveled to a crowded Bethlehem on orders from Rome without making a hotel reservation and ended up sleeping in a stable. That night the woman gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and put him in a barn animal’s food dish. Angels broke through earth’s atmosphere to announce the baby’s arrival to a bunch of nobodies out in the fields (they didn’t have to go anywhere to “register”; they just didn’t count). They ran into town to see this amazing child about which angels sang, talked to the parents a bit, and then told anyone who would listen about this amazing thing. The baby’s mom put this encounter into the scrapbook of her heart to ponder.

Luke describes how, in a very specific moment in time with a very specific power structure, God came among us as a puny little piece of human flesh called a baby. Now how could God fit into such a small insignificant space? His mother Mary already knew this was a revolutionary birth. The appearance of the shepherd nobodies was the first evidence that the counter-cultural kingdom that she had sung about in the Magnificat had broken into this world. 

OK. Now we can return to the regularly scheduled story of 12 year old Jesus.

One part of my call as a teacher of confirmation classes here at Gloria Dei is to reassure parents that the current conflicts with their 12-13 years old will not last forever….2 or 3 years down the road and life settles down a little bit. I don’t pull out this story where the 12 year old Jesus disappears on an out of town trip and then, when “found”, impolitely dismisses parental concern. But I could pull it out. It is good to know that the parents of our Lord and Savior had moments when they too wanted to pull out their hair. As far as I’m concerned, that right there is proof of the human nature of God-made-man. 

This text also shows us that Jesus’ life is set in the midst of a practicing Jewish family. He honors those relationships. He has experienced the faith as he has grown. He has been a part of a larger community of faith (remember Joseph and Mary didn’t realize he was gone for 3 days because they were traveling in a crowd). A side note: Commentators disagree about whether the 3 days are a reference his time in the tomb – what do you think? 

This is a story of a youth growing strong from these Jewish roots. At this point Jesus is becoming more self-aware and is maturing in his understanding of his mission/call. He is having a wonderful Jewish debate over scripture with the teachers in the temple when his parents find him; perhaps some of his divine wisdom at work? The Torah and “my Father” are beginning to tug him away from family life. But our text concludes with: 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.

This is a very human story of parents and their 12 year old son. 

How easy is it for you to grasp that God became completely (truly) human? What does that change about your thoughts about God?

What does this story say about the role of the faith community in the life of a child?

Check out the G.I.F.T. post for this Sunday, December 20 for more ways to reflect on these verses.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please use the comment section below.

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245