The Holy Family is committed to Celebration. Often Christianity is presented & demonstrated as if it were for grim pills rather than pil grims. Even the central act of our corporate worship, the Eucharist, that we commonly refer to as a 'Celebration' lets us down badly if it is dull, stolid, all that kind of thing. Let's take a leaf out of the Holy Family's book & celebrate. And how!
The Holy Family regularly journeys to Jerusalem. Are we conscious of life as a journey? Or is there nowhere to go? Nowhere left to go? Nowhere worth going? Good journeying needs good guiding. What resources do we need? What resources does church (or wider community) provide for us to journey on, journey well?
It is still wise to travel in company. There are spiritual bandits out there, as well as physical ones. Even the most solitary of solitaries need to touch base often enough to be anchored not in an idiosyncracy, but in Christ's Body. If I need to get past 'going to church to make my communion', sit in my seat, sing my hymns, etc., could this passage be motivation for change?
As we celebrate, & journey (in company), am I keeping an eye out for my fellow pilgrims? As a fellow pilgrim I share a care for others. How often do I 'touch base' with others (not just my friends) to see they're OK, still in there with us,............? If it was easy for Jesus to be lost in the crowd, how about all those others out there? There're a lot of disaffected people out there because, rightly or wrongly, they feel the church doesn't care about them.
In the Temple, Jesus is a good listener. It's not that he's doing the teaching as some have been inclined to read into this incident. True, 'all were astounded' at his contribution, but LK isn't portraying a precocious religious prodigy. Behind the teaching, formal & informal, Jesus is tuned into his Father, God. Are we on the same 'wavelength'? Also, are we listening to our teachers well enough? Asking the right kinds of questions? If we are the teacher, are we worth listening to? Questioning? Jesus wasn't threatened by what was on offer. Neither should we need to be. To take one avenue that derives from this example: how many of us pray much better when we listen to God, rather than bombard God!
Mary & Joseph 'do not understand' what Jesus is on about. Admitting we don't have all the answers is a good starting place for spiritual growth! Then we can start looking, not for the answers we think we need, but for the answers God thinks we need.
Jesus is obedient to Mary & Joseph. Apart from observing the commandment, Jesus establishes the true nature of authority, or should that be the nature of true authority? None of us is meant to act as a 'law unto ourself', but it can be very confusing to sort out the many & conflicting claims to authority over us. What part does obedience play in congregational life, & how far does that obedience extend? What about the wider community, the nation we're part of? Are any / all of these claims for obedience sustainable in God's eyes?
Mary treasures certain things in her heart. What kind of heart-treasures do we have stored up? Have we yet sorted out what's worth keeping in our heart & what's not? Has heart become too much the seat of romance, rather than a special meeting & keeping place for God?
Jesus grows 'in wisdom, in years, & in divine & human favour'. Is there any regret greater in ministry than at a person's failure to grow, in any of these? God is in the growing game. Are we with him, or are against him because we're not with him?