It is so immensely appropriate that we celebrate the New Year right after the intense buildup preparing for the birth of Christ in the manger of our hearts. The day has come and passed; we have invited Jesus to be born again in our hearts, to cherish and treasure as he grows. And now the New Year presents an opportunity to transform the outward expression of our life to reflect this growing light inside of us.
This year we begin a long and deep study into the words of Jesus, and we begin with his first (recorded), which come from a 12 year old boy Jesus left behind in the Temple.
Luke 2: 41-52
Every year his parents used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When the days of the feast were over and they set off home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was somewhere in the party, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.
It happened that, three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. The were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, “My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.” He replied, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he meant.
He went down with them then and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and with people.
Just because we were seeking truth like the magi and arrived humble at the manger, just because we accepted faith like a child into our hearts and minds, just because we intentionally professed responsibility of the growing of that faith – does not mean that our routines and rituals automatically are Jesus infused.
It took twelve years of going to Jerusalem and back for Joseph and Mary to take for granted that Jesus would always be with them. There is a difference between saying “Jesus is always with me,” and “I am always with Jesus.” The former implies that Jesus is like a pet by your side, trusting that you always know where to be and what to be doing, he’s just happy to be with you. The latter implies that no matter where Jesus goes, no matter where his Spirit is leading, you are intent to be there as well.
How many years does it take you to forget to keep your eye on Jesus and where he is? How many days? How many hours? “Why were you looking for me?” Jesus asks. If we never took our eyes off him, our ears away from his teaching, our minds away from his wisdom, our hearts away from his loving calm, our souls away from his beckoning call – we would not need to spend time looking for him. We would already be by his side, paying attention.
“Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” One sure way to make sure Jesus is where we are is to apply the philosophy of Paul communicated in 1 Corinthians verses 19-20: Do you not realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you and whom you received from God? So Jesus needs to be in the Temple, sitting with your mind, asking it questions? Make your body God’s house, keep it clean, and keep it holy. Carry him with you, store up all these things in your heart. In your body, in your mind, and in your spirit, Jesus will increase in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and your very self – if you let him.
Gracious God, thank you for this chance at life today. As I approach the rest of the day, help me to pay attention to where Jesus is and what he is doing, both inside and around me. Help me to be where he is, go where he is going, rather than dragging him into all my selfish actions and ambitious desires. I desire most to be yours, help me to be so. Amen.
Good day friends and family, prayers abound for your continual awareness of God's presence in every part of your life. May the Spirit stir you and guide you - and may you follow. The words, reflections, and future posts on this page are a result of my own stirring, partly as a challenge to bring clarity to my own thoughts and vision, and partly to communicate them with you through the position I have been so graciously appointed.
It is through conversations with people like you that I have learned that there really is an interest in what is going through your preacher's mind. As our little church grows in relationship with God and each other, we have also seen a few more people interested in being a part of what's going on in this little old church in little old Cisco.
In short, we are determined to be followers of Jesus. We have and will face challenges and difficulties, and we will be imperfect and let each other down. But at the core of our belief, we understand that Jesus not only taught what we need to know, but also showed by example how we are to follow. One step more, he sent his Spirit to be a guide and his peace as confirmation. His grace is sufficient, and his will is the way.
To love God by learning to love others as ourselves;
To serve God by learning to serve others;
To learn to live as Christ, with Christ, and for Christ.
1. God is good.
2. He is up to something.
3. He has invited us to be a part of its unfolding.
This blog is not intended as an advertisement for our First Christian Church of Cisco, but rather an exploration of church itself, a communication of ideas and visions, and a sharing of knowledge both learned and experienced. That being said, if we see you in church on Sunday, you are loved and welcome at the watering hole. I look forward to this New Year with sermons focused on the words of Jesus and writing focused on a renewed reflection on being church.