The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 16B (Aug. 23, 2015)

Lessons:St. Luke 2:41-52

Prayer of the Day: Holy God, your word feeds your people with life that is eternal. Direct our choices and preserve us in your truth, that, renouncing what is false and evil, we may live in you, through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

2:41 Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43 When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44 Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” 49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

St. Luke 2:41-52 New Revised Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

In My Father’s House

We don’t know much about Jesus’ childhood. There are stories about his birth, of course. And stories of the first visit his family made to the Temple after he was born. But nothing, really, between then and his baptism by John in the Jordan River (when most scholars suspect he was in his early 30s). Except for this story.

Jesus was born to two devout, Jewish parents. Every year they made their way from Nazareth to Jerusalem (a five- or six-day walk each way) for Passover. When Jesus was twelve years old they took him along with them. They were traveling with a group of relatives and friends, and at the end of the first day’s travel they couldn’t find him in the group. (Clearly first century parents didn’t hover over their children quite as much as we do today…)

They return to Jerusalem and after three days (is Luke foreshadowing here?) they find him in the Temple. Exhausted after four days of traveling and searching and worrying and laying awake all night long, Mary asks him what in the world he was thinking. Jesus’ response, sounding more like an adult than a twelve year old child, is to ask her why she ever thought he would be anywhere else. “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Jesus was fully at home in the Temple, listening to the teachers and asking them questions. And he wasn’t just going through the motions. Luke tells us that he increases in wisdom, and in divine and human favor. Gathering in the Temple to learn is important to Jesus, and a significant way in which he develops and grows. Although it must have been a trying experience for her, Mary treasures the memory of this trip to Jerusalem in her heart. Was she seeing, for one of the first times, evidence of what the shepherds proclaimed to her in 2:17?

In our communities today many young people are returning to school after summer vacations. It isn’t always an easy return: although they rarely go missing for four days, there are adjustments that have to be made and schedules that begin to rule again. But it is where they need to be. Where they must be.

At Saint Peter, this weekend, we are planing a Summer Festival, to mark the ending of summer and the beginning of the school year. We will ask for God’s blessing on our young people. We will give thanks for their teachers and administrators and other school staff members. We will remind ourselves that just as Jesus matured and grew by the time he spent the Temple listening to the teachers and questioning them, our children will mature and through the time they spend in their school.

Let us remember to pray for them on a daily basis. Let us show our gratitude for their teachers and others who take an active interest in them. Let us give thanks to God for the opportunities they have to grow during these school years, that they too might grow in wisdom, and in divine and human favor.


David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. How do I think Jesus became separated from his parents?
  2. What is his parents’ response when they first find him?
  3. How does he respond to his mother’s concerned words?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What hopes to I have for students who are returning to school this fall?
  2. How might I be a source of strength and encouragement for them?
  3. How might I show my gratitude to those who have invested a lifetime in teaching them, and in helping them grow?