"Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
I’m probably guessing that Joseph and Mary were not too thrilled to have the Gospel writer Luke include this story. What kind of parents would accidentally go off and leave behind their child?
This is a passage I preached on the Sunday after Christmas. The episode is not as bad as it sounds. Back in those days, families travelled in caravans, large groups, so it would not be too unthinkable that a parent would lose sight of their child amidst all the travelers. And this was the message of that sermon, that we too can lose sight of Jesus in all our busyness.
The part of the passage that always gives me pause for thought is Jesus’ response to Joseph and Mary: “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” According to Jesus, it should have been obvious as where to find him in Jerusalem. He was going about his Father’s business. Luke’s narrative states that they did not understand what he was saying. What exactly was Jesus doing as he was going about his Father’s business? And what should we be doing as we seek going about the Father’s business?
The start of the New Year, with its opportunities for a dawn of a new lease on life—a transformation from the same-old-same-old, a time to put the past behind and move in a more healthy, upright direction, is an appropriate time to consider and to challenge ourselves to break away from the business-as-usual routine of our lives. Seeking God, searching for answers, deepening our relationship with Christ, letting God provide meaning in our lives, learning of God’s promises, experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, impacting others with the love of God through our acts of compassion and mercy, these are the things of going about the Father’s business. Directing our passion to God is what kept Jesus back at the temple instead of hitting the road back to Nazareth as soon as the Passover was over.
As we start this New Year, we in our own ways want to be transformed. The Father’s business assumes that God is doing something before we know it. So, our task is not to get God to do what we think needs to be done, but to become keenly aware of what God is doing so that we can join in, participate, and delight in so doing so.
I hope that all of us, individually and together as a church, will find the desire in our hearts to be transformed by going about the Father’s business—to be committed to the one who is committed to us. The One who is so committed to us holds back nothing, not even His son, to show us how He cares for us. Through deepening our relationship with God we can allow ourselves to be transformed, to be enriched, to be rid and cleansed of our faults. And in so doing we can help, through the love of Christ, in transforming the world. We have something valuable in Christ, something that needs to be stirred up in us, renewed or discovered for the first time, a passion for knowing and possessing. A fresh New Year lies unblemished before us. How will we resolve to go about the Father’s business?