My Father's House
Second Sunday After Christmas
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and His only Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Many of you have families for whom you support and provide. You can well understand the strength and endurance required to maintain a well-fed and spiritually healthy family. You understand the sacrifices needed as well as the failures experienced in keeping you and yours alive and well. Yes, there are times of joy and victory, as well as times of loss and defeat, yet you continue to strive forward.
For some, having a headstrong child or maybe a child who struggles to thrive, the thought, ‘If we can just get through one more day…’ may be one that enters your mind consistently. Out of the four children in my immediate family, I remember the anxieties of my parents for the unique difficulties attached to the individual siblings.
Of course, I never caused my parents any worry. As I remember my childhood, I was hardly ever in any trouble; at least, not as badly as my brother and sisters. But of course, I am looking back from my perspective and through my own delusional lens of how I think I behaved; the truth is a little bit different.
For instance, I always thought of myself as a good student and a pretty smart cookie. Yet one day, my mother gave me a packet of materials she had collected over the years from my childhood.
She has been cleaning out her house, getting ready to sell it. The packet that she sent me has many interesting papers recording my early childhood; specifically, report cards and letters sent home from my teachers.
As I reviewed these papers and report cards, I saw that I didn’t get as many ‘A’s and ‘B’s as I remembered. In fact, there were quite a few ‘C’s and even a few ‘D’s. And there were a few ‘Disciplinary Referrals’ for skipping class or not doing my homework. As a teenager, I tried hard not to get any bad marks in my permanent record, but I didn’t realize that Mom was keeping a permanent record of her own. I can well imagine my parents praying to get through just one more day.
Now even though my siblings and I were not the perfect children, I am sure that if any one of us were to get lost, our parents would be worried and do everything in their power to find us. That is what parents do; they keep us safe and look out for our well-being.
So, imagine the shock to Mary and Joseph when they found out their child Jesus had not been seen for three days. Jesus was not a troublemaker. He did not have a pile of ‘disciplinary referrals’ in his permanent record. For Jesus not to be where he was supposed to be was inconsistent with his nature as a dutiful child.
Remember that Mary and Joseph had to flee from Bethlehem into Egypt under the threat of death from King Herod. Years later, they returned to make their home in Nazareth in peace so as to raise Jesus according to the Law of God. To have Jesus go missing may have brought fears of abduction or death at the hands of God’s enemies.
Mary and Joseph had left Jesus behind and three days later, they found him again sitting in the temple courts listening to the teachers and asking them questions. Mary and Joseph were upset with Jesus, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” You see? Parents are the same everywhere. Jesus responded, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he was saying to them. [Luke 2:48-50]
For Jesus, it was perfectly logical for him to be in his Father’s house teaching his Father’s will and commands. Jesus was asking his earthly guardians, “Where else would I be?” Being the perfect child, he did not cause them any more distress and went home with them to Nazareth.
Jesus’ question is a good question to ask ourselves – where do we expect to find Jesus? Does he only live in this building called a church? It is God’s house, but is Jesus a homebody or is he agoraphobic and never leaves His home? No my friends, Jesus is not a god with feet of stone. He is not finite. He is not isolated to only one place or time. As Paul writes to the Galatians in chapter 2:20
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Christ is with us in this building and in our lives. He made us His own when we were baptized in His name. When He died on the cross and rose again in victory over death, He gave us eternal life. Now Christ lives in me and He lives in you. Jesus’ question is a good one, “Why are you searching for me?” We do not have to search for Him, He lives in us!
He lives in us through our baptism. He lives in us through the bread and wine which is His body and blood. He lives in us through the Word of the Holy Scriptures. Jesus never leaves us. He loves us so much that he died for our sins that we would be redeemed, so that we would now become righteous and holy in the eyes of God our Father.
Jesus’ second question is more appropriate for us today; “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” This is a good question. Where are we today? We know that Christ lives in us, therefore we should be where? In our Father’s house.
In our Father’s house, we are safe. In our Father’s house, we are fed and clothed and comforted. During times of trouble and despair, where should we be? In our Father’s house. Why? Because Christ lives in us, and the life we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God who loves us and gave Himself for us.
We live in a world where distances that once required months and years to travel can now be crossed in hours and days. Many diseases have been overcome by medical science. Knowledge is now transmitted almost instantly at the speed of light through an incredibly fantastic network of orbiting satellites and fiber optic cables.
We have buildings that reach into the sky over half a mile in height. We have machines that fly through the air, dive deep under the sea and travel through outer space to planets throughout our solar system and beyond.
Great minds of intelligence have come and gone. Men of power, societies of philosophy and wisdom of ages have been born and died. Yet in all the eons, the human race has remained lost. With all our human advances, we remain brutal in our treatment of each other. We continue to war, murder and take from those who are weaker than we are to hoard a treasure that means nothing in the eyes of our creator.
The only time God is lost to us is when we concede to the lies of this wicked world. When we believe the propaganda that permeates our culture, we shut God out. I know it is difficult not to do what everybody else is doing. I understand how the struggles to keep you and your family safe can overwhelm you and cloud your vision. We so easily become lost in the wisdom of this world.
Without Christ in our lives, we have no home, no resting place. We cannot come to him through our own understanding and sin. We were the lost children – not him, but he found us. He chose us to be his own before the foundation of the world. He has made himself known to us through his grace. St. Paul says it this way:
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christas a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” [Ephesians 1:7-10]
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Jesus is not lost and neither are we. We no longer need live without hope or direction. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, we have been justified by faith. We stand in the grace of God by the faith of Jesus Christ. “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings…” St. Paul tells us. [Rom 5:1-3a]
In those times when we look to the heavens with our hands in the air pleading, ‘Lord! Can we get through just one more day?’ we still have hope. We have hope in our troubles and struggles “…because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” [Rom 5:5b]
Know that this world is not our final resting place. Know that this world is not our permanent home. Through Christ Jesus, we have a place in our Father’s house where we are loved, fed and comforted. Jesus Christ makes us holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.
When you feel lost, come home. Come to God’s house. He has not moved away from us. Come in from the storm and tempest of the world. Come to God’s house and be refreshed in mind and Spirit. Be comforted and renewed in hope. We know that we have to be in our Father’s house. We know that with Christ in us, we now live to the glory of God. Where do we belong? With God in His house.