HAVE YOU EVER LOST SOMETHING?
It is pretty annoying and something we can all do from time to time.
One thing I really hate to “lose” is my glasses. Truth is they are never very far away from them, the problem is, it is really hard to look for something you need to see to find.
One thing we are fortunate for, one thing we can never lose, is our bond with God.
Even when we are blind groping in the dark on all fours, feeling helpless and blind, the Word is just as close as our own hearts.
Now as horrible and as easy as it is to lose things, have you ever lost another person?
The security we can find in others is no mistake, it can be scary out there and add a few unknowns and we can become really anxious.
Ever lost a child in a crowd, on a playground, God forbid at an amusement park?
IMAGINE LOSING THE SON OF GOD?
Now that had to be real scary….the big trip. Passover!
Grab your stuff Jesus, Joseph and the rest of you, we are going to Jerusalem, the holy city, where God lives and reigns from on high.
I imagine there may have been some resentment on the part of the young 12-year-old Jesus.
After all, not too many 12 years olds lack resentment and rebellion.
I surely didn’t. 12 years old…..wow that was the year I got to know my Vice-Principal very well and spent a lot of extra time at school.
He was probably thinking, “Why do I have to make this long dirty, sweaty trip, Father?
You can hear Joseph yelling in the background……”Because we are Jews and we celebrate the Passover to remember our liberation by Elohim from slavery in Egypt and our freedom as a nation under Moses.”
Jesus yells back, “I wasn’t talking to you, I was talking to my Father Joseph!”
“Joseph is your father, I have heard enough out of you Jesus Bar Joseph, now get your things and let’s move along.” Adds Mary
“My father, our God is everywhere mother, not just in the temple, but free in the world, accessible to all, and is not pleased by our sacrifices, we are destroying his creations in doing so, but our Lord requires o to sacrifice of ourselves, not the blood of the innocent. Do you remember the story of Hannah and Elkenah? How they were old in age and without child. One day while praying in the temple, the priest Eli saw her lips moving but could hear no words and accused her of being drunk, of course she wasn’t, she was praying for a child, she was pretty tired of the other wife taunting her too, but longed for a child with all her heart. When her prayer was answered, she was required by the Lord to give this child, Samuel to the temple, to give her child to the service of the Lord. Can you imagine that mother? Waiting all those years for a child and then having to give them up as a kind of sacrifice to God?”
Mary holding back tears says,” No, I can’t imagine.”
“I do not understand why God can seem so cruel sometimes.”
As Joseph enters with haste he snaps “Well that is something you are going to have to take up with the priests and scribes when we are at the temple. You can save up all of your thoughts, questions and theories for when we get there, but I am going to need you to pack so we can leave.”
With a very serious look Jesus says,” I am only going to take the clothes on my back, for my…”
“Good, let’s go…” proclaims Joseph as they whisk out the door.
Jesus has noticed they are growing slightly impatient with him lately.
Oh well he would get some time to himself when they were in Jerusalem….
Today we heard different stories about two different boys.
Samuel and Jesus. Exceptional boys , but exceptional boys with exceptional mothers.
For me, these stories are more about the mothers.
Hannah and Mary.
There are similarities in this story and differences. When I read parts like these my attention is drawn to the spaces between the black print. Where these kinds of stories really unfold with the guidance of the Spirit.
In these spaces we find stories of the love of two very special and important women. The bond that can exist between a mother and a child is amazing. My bond with my mother is forever and I know there is never a day that goes by that she does not worry about me.
I wonder who , had more heartbreak?
Hannah, who seems like a lovely lady, up there in years, really wants a child. Now there are all kinds of weird things going on at this temple. This priest Eli, doesn’t seem to be the best judge of character and can’t even tell the difference between drunkenness and praying. His sons are some pretty despicable guys too, wrapped up in a scandal I like to call MEAT GATE. They were skimming off the top, from the temple meat sacrifice. These were some evil men indeed.
She finally has a child, her first fruits, if you will and then has to give him up after he was weaned. This was a very important time though, I imagine her loving this child she always wanted with all her heart and held little Samuel even closer knowing she would have to give him up to God soon. She would however go and visit him every year to bring him a new linen ephod.
Mary, this young, lovely pious girl. She must have been something else ! She caught God’s eye and the rest is history.
But I imagine her maybe singing a psalm one evening and here comes Gabriel.
This was probably scary enough, but when he breaks the news to her that she will be the vessel for the seed of God and that this particular baby will be like none other, the true son of God.
“But I am only a young woman, a virgin, I can’t get pregnant, I am not even married yet. What will Joseph think? What will the village think? What will my mom think?”
“Uh….just tell her that you have been chosen by God to carry his son, so that he may bring salvation to the world.”
I am sure that was going to go over really well.
This had to have been a rough time for Mary. She would keep her son with her, unlike Hannah, but at times may feel this strange distance from him. She really doesn’t understand him most of the time. He could be a little moody, he had an intimidating intellect and some peculiar passions. As Jesus grows, she, like all parents can see that her child is headed down the wrong path- making the wrong kind of enemies…..she is powerless to protect him in the long run. She remembers that day in the temple when they presented the child to Simeon….and he said to her, “a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
She was not like Hannah in this regard, she didn’t want to have a child, not yet at least. Now she would have this child inside her, that was not really hers’ at all…..she would bear this child for the sake of the world.
In the Gospels this is the only story we have from Jesus’ childhood in this incident when he is 12 and decides he is going to just go ahead and stay at the temple.
What was it like, on your way back home, only to realize that you do not know where your child is, you may have just totally blown it, you may have just lost the Son of God?
The instantaneous reverse of flow as Mary and Joseph desperately make their way back to Jerusalem against the flow of traffic.
After three days……they find him in the temple.
The feeling of relief……. and the desire to strangle offspring simultaneously wash over your thoughts.
There he sits, like nothing in the world is wrong, siting among teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. He was even giving answers to some and they were legitimately amazed.
Mary rushes over to him full of fire and letting her peaceful demeanor perhaps down just a little bit.
“Child, why have you treated us like this ? Look your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.
Jesus looks into his mother’s eyes, they are red and swollen from crying for three days probably. Mary feels that sword, slowly inching into her heart as she looks into her son’s eyes and can tell his spirit is far away. He does not have Joseph’s chin and his nose looks like none other in her or Joseph’s family. HE is distant and has more wisdom than any child should possess.
“Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
All those times he doesn’t want her to mother him, when he refers to his other father.
It could not have been easy raising the son of God. It is not easy to raise any child, or to love someone so deeply that your heart is connected to theirs in ways you do not choose or control. We are like a rebellious child that has ran away from home aren’t we?
We are living lives that God would not always particularly wish for us, making choices that put us in danger. We refuse to do things to make our lives easier and more stable.
This had to have been Mary’s experience….
These are stories of Samuel and Jesus….these are stories of Mary and Hannah..
These are stories of you and I.
We as readers of these stories are in these stories, with each other and with God.
God loves us and has created us, and also has to let go and allow us to find our own way, despite what harmful things we may do to ourselves or each other.
God our creator, God our mother watches over us, loves and cares, but also let’s go.
We are to do the same.
We are God’s chosen ones….we are the sons and daughters of the one living God that binds us all together in the flow of life.
We are holy and beloved. And like Hannah brings Samuel a new linen ephod, let us receive this wonderful gift on Christmas from our Lord and in our baptism clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Above all clothe yourselves in love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. AMEN