“Our True Home”
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.
Chosen Home- is the overall theme for this morning. What is our true home? What is our chosen home? Are they the same or maybe different?
This morning we get a rare glimpse into a very early understanding of how Jesus might answer these questions about chosen home. In the passage we will read Jesus is no longer a baby and he has not yet started his ministry as an adult. He is a child…a real child. He is 12 years old in this passage. And the gospel of Luke is the only gospel that conveys this particular story. Here is the situation, Jesus and his parents have traveled to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. Unlike today when we each travel in our own separate cars…a whole community would travel together. It was safer to travel in large groups, you could share food, be safer when sleeping at night and you could all help watch the children traveling with you. So it is no surprise that when Joseph and Mary started traveling back home, it was after traveling a whole day that they realized that Jesus was not with them.
After my father died at the young age of 16, I remember so vividly my search for God. My search for understanding…Where are you God? Why was I searching…because God was not found in the usual places. Within the intense grief that I held deep inside; God was not found among the adults who surrounded my life. No, God was not found in the church pew where I sat on Sunday morning…but I did find God, I found God in the forest surrounding my home, walking among the trees in the silence of the winter. That place was where I belonged, where I felt peace. That is where I found God. Aren’t we all searching for such a place? Maybe we don’t think it is God we are searching for but a place to belong. Bell Hooks, an author, professor, feminist and social activist speaks of this belonging in her book Belonging: A Culture of Place says this: “The idea of place, where we belong, is a constant subject for many of us…again and again as I travel around I am stunned by how many citizens in our nation feel lost, feel bereft of a sense of direction, feel as though they cannot see where our journeys lead, that they cannot know where they are going. Many folks feel no sense of place. What they know, what they have, is a sense of crisis, of impending doom.” I think Bell Hooks spoke the truth in those words, that many feel no sense of place. This deep seeded hope and desire to belong somewhere. Or maybe there is another side, just maybe there is a struggle between where the world says we should belong, and where we actually do belong. I know that struggle…I found God not where I thought I would or where I hoped to find God, but I found God where I needed to find God.
Jesus at 12 years of age, seemed to know almost instinctively where he belonged. He knew where his true home was…it was with God and among God’s people. It was with the One he called his Father! When Joseph and Mary returned to Jerusalem, they searched three days for Jesus. They finally went to the temple and there he was sitting among the teachers. He was listening, asking questions, learning more and more about this One who make him feel at home…Jesus had found his true home; his chosen home.
Now one can imagine what it was like for Mary and Joseph, searching throughout Jerusalem, looking at every place they could think that Jesus might be. They searched for 3 days before finding him in the temple. No wonder Mary said to Jesus, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” Jesus responds to their distress by saying, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Can you feel this tension here, Jesus belongs with his mother and father, right? After all he is only 12! Jesus belongs with his community that surrounds him…But Jesus says he belongs in his Father’s house. He knew already that this is where he belonged, he belonged in his Father’s house and wherever his Father was…he belonged with God!
Bell Hooks’ words still hold true for many of us. We’re searching to find where we belong…where we can call home. And this place is not always where we think it should be…maybe you always thought you belong in your home of 50 years, or in a town where you have always lived, knowing the people, the stores, where everything is familiar. Maybe you feel you belong in a family system that you have struggled with your whole life, a place that is destructive or harmful for your soul. Mary and Joseph searched 3 days to finally find Jesus in the temple. That tells us something about where they thought he should be. Jesus knew all along that is wasn’t his community, his family, or anything that he was really familiar with that give him this deep sense of belonging…he knew where to go.
Even at 12 years of age Jesus is a teacher for us this morning. I thought I would find God in my family, or in my church community, or in my neighbors or in my friends, but at that particular time in my life when I most needed to find God, I found God among the trees, out in nature in the silence of the winter day. I learned that day, that God can surprise me and where God is not. And I believe that God can surprise you too. Open your heart and your mind and discover for yourself that God is really everywhere. When we find God, wherever that is…that is where we will find our true home. Amen