Sermon 30th December 2018 – Christmas 1
Text: Luke 2:41-52 – Lost and found
There is nothing that strikes more fear into a parent than when they turn around for a second and see that their child is missing.
It can happen in -
A busy supermarket.
A crowded street.
Going for a walk in a park.
It’s like a vanishing act.
And today there is a condition called “distracted parent syndrome”.
With parents spending more time checking out social media on their mobile phone than watching over their child losing a child is seemingly happening at an alarming rate.
You shudder when you hear on the news of a child gone missing.
Or an attempted abduction of a child.
So you can imagine the horror as Mary and Joseph are travelling along their journey and suddenly realise that their son Jesus is missing.
It makes you wonder how they could have left their pre-teen son behind.
Was there not a headcount to make sure everyone was there?
At the tender age of 12 wasn’t Jesus under more supervision to ensure he was safe.
Sure they were different times to today but we are talking about a 12 year old.
Nevertheless it happens.
And it happens even today with parents forgetting their children in their cars which we’ll no doubt hear a lot about this summer and despite the warnings we’ll scratch our heads and wonder how a parent can forget their child.
With Christmas now just under a week ago you wonder how many people have forgotten Jesus already.
The carols have ended.
The presents have been unwrapped.
Christmas trees and decorations are starting to get dismantled.
The last remnant reminding us of Christmas will be when the bank statement or Visa bill comes next month.
But sadly, to many people, Jesus will be lost.
It’s been happening for many generations now, not just at Christmas.
As people depart from church attendance more and more these past generations, Jesus seems to have been lost to so many of our friends and family.
We might also wonder how this is possible.
Didn’t we raise them right?
Where did we go wrong?
We took them to Sunday School and Confirmation.
Aren’t they concerned about heaven?
But maybe you’ve felt that Jesus is missing from your life as well even though you come to church regularly.
Maybe some struggles you’ve been going through have made it hard to find Jesus at times.
Our Gospel reading shows us a couple things.
Firstly, as we’ve seen in our Gospel reading, it is easy to lose Jesus and not even realise it among the busyness of life.
But secondly we learn that Jesus is where we should expect to find him.
Jesus looks puzzlingly at Mary and says - “Why were you searching for me?” “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Jesus is never lost to us even if it feels like it.
Sometimes the worries of life and the busyness of life can distract us but Jesus will always be where he has promised to be.
In your Baptism Jesus promised “I am with you always”.
That’s where Luther returned when he was struggling with his faith and the torment of the devil.
Luther was constantly tormented by Satan, even resorting to throwing an inkwell at him.
But it was when he returned to his Baptism and cried out “I am Baptised” that he discovered the relief he was looking for.
So too you are called to return to your Baptism.
But you are also called to trust the Baptism of your loved ones who seem to have lost Jesus in their lives.
God made a promise in their baptism and as St Paul says in Romans when speaking about his unbelieving Jewish brothers and sisters.
In his concern for them he takes comfort knowing “God's gifts and his call can never be withdrawn”.
So keep praying for your loved ones that God will honour his promises.
We also find Jesus where he has promised to be in his body and blood in Holy Communion.
There is the account in Luke’s Gospel of 2 disciples walking the road to Emmaus on the 3rd day of Jesus’ death.
They are downcast because they had lost Jesus.
And even though they are speaking directly to Jesus they don’t see him
Luke says “They stood still, their faces downcast”.
And with despondency they sigh “we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel”.
Even though Jesus is right there talking to them they don’t see him until – Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.
It’s interesting that as soon as their eyes were opened they lost him again.
But this time they weren’t despondent because they knew that despite what their eyes saw, the promise of God’s presence was there with them.
And of course we know that God’s Word is where God can always be found because God’s word is a living word.
John chapter one says that – in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God and the word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Jesus may be easy to lose at times with everything going on but he is even easier to find as he has made himself available where he has promised to be – in his Word and the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.
And that’s why Luther and the Lutheran Church has focused so strongly on Word and Sacrament ministry because worship is not about entertainment.
Although worship can be entertaining – it’s about guiding people to God’s presence to experience the comfort that only God’s presence can bring.
And what joy discovering God’s presence again brings.
Just as when a parent finds their child after going missing it brings great joy just like the father who lost his son.
He thought his prodigal son was dead but was found alive –
Or the shepherd who leaves 99 safe sheep in order to find the one lost sheep and brings him home.
Which suggests to us that Jesus is not the one who is lost but it is we who take ourselves away from him, as did Mary and Joseph.
Jesus was where he was supposed to be – Mary and Joseph left without him.
So let us also rejoice that God has made himself easy to find.
But let us rejoice further that even though sometimes we may lose God from our sight, God never loses us from his sight and is always seeking us to bring us back to him.