Jesus as a child in the Temple
For some the frenzy of Christmas is over. The presents have been unwrapped, the turkey has been eaten, the tree may even have come down. And the focus has already moved on to New Years. The good will, the excitement, the celebration have been done.
When I was at Airbus we worked for months, completing tests and analysis of each piece of equipment, and preparing documentation to justify that the A380 was ready for her first flight. There was a deadline – the date of the first flight had been set – and we worked hard to be ready for it. Finally the day arrived and everybody in the office gathered in the atrium to watch our plane take it’s first flight on the big screen. But that wasn’t the end of the job, and all the work we had done up to that point let into a new set of flight testing and ongoing modifications. We weren’t done, even if she had taken her first flight.
I remember that moment when Iris was born, thinking back to our antenatal courses and realising that we had been so focussed on the birth, we hadn’t really thought that much about what happened next. Babies aren’t just for Christmas – and Jesus is no different.
For all that the joy and excitement of Christmas day may be over. For all that the children probably feel like they’ve been singing Christmas songs since November. There is something of this joy at the birth of Jesus which needs to sustain us through the year.
In today’s Gospel Jesus is 12 – and clearly no less of a concern to his parents than when he decided to be born while they were staying the night in a stable in Bethehem.
Jesus is as precocious as he grows up to be when talking to the pharisees and the sadducees later in the gospels. But here we have Jesus listening and asking questions both with the inquisitive mind of a child and the love and passion of the Son of God. We are reminded that it is engaging with God, and with all that he gives us, that we can sustain and grow in love of God.
A few years ago I was reading a book by the now tory MP Rory Stewart about walking across Afghanistan shortly after the Taliban fell. I was at a family event and talking to one of my Uncles, a professor in Celtic studies and generally very knowledgeable. I mentioned that I’d been enjoying this book about Afghanistan and he started asking me lots of questions about what it revealed about Afghanistan and it’s history. In reality I thought my uncle probably knew more about Afghan history than I could remember from what I’d read in this one book. It occurred to me that many people, including myself, would take this opportunity to tell somebody what they knew – but my uncle was more interested in learning things that he didn’t know by asking me questions.
Here in this passage we have Jesus asking questions, not because he didn’t know about the scriptures, but because he wanted to learn from others, from their experience and their knowledge. It is easy to get into a routine of being enriched by Christmas and Easter each year, or by the one moment of prayer or serenity we find each month or each week in prayer and worship. But Jesus calls us to abide in his love, to be sustained throughout our goings out and our coming in by the word of God. And that isn’t simply by blindly listening to it, or simply letting it flow over us. We are called to read, mark, and digest it. To wrestle with it at times, with it’s implications on our life, with the bits we struggle to accept.
In Paul’s letter to the Colossians we are told to have compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. And yet also to teach and admonish in wisdom. So it is not always straightforward to make the decisions we need to make to live our lives faithfully. Paul writes about how the community at Colossus should treat one another – giving one another the benefit of the doubt and seeking to forgive in the same way that God forgives us. But forgiveness is not easy – even if you live a peaceful life, close to God, there are those for whom forgiveness will seem impossible – but by the grace of God.
Paul calls us to let the peace of Christ rule our hearts and to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. These are easy words, but to continually try to let the peace of Christ rule our hearts is no easy task. But we were reminded earlier this year that where love is the way anything is possible. But we must continually remind ourselves that everything we do, whether in here or in the hall or at home or at the shops, we should do in the name of the Lord Jesus. Embedded in a living faith, surrounded by the love of God and in constant struggle with the implications of God’s calling to each of us.
Because a baby isn’t just for Christmas, and Jesus isn’t just for Sundays. We should dwell in the Lord in everything we do. We should always be open to ask questions of our faith, and of our God, in hopes of learning more about what we believe and helping us in our calling to be in closer relationship with the one who created us and who sent his son that we should have life, and have it abundantly.
The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams
8.00am Said Eucharist in the lady chapel
10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School
Said Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00am
Monday through Thursday at 5.30pm
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