I’ve been asked to preach at my home church and former employer, Colonial Church, next Sunday, December 27. As a good guest preacher (known in the biz as ‘pulpit supply’), I’m using the lectionary text so as to not import everything I want to say to this congregation into my sermon (and Lord knows, there’s a lot I’d like to say!).
In the lectionary, this coming Sunday is known as Christmas 1C, and the Gospel text is Luke 2:41-52, which is the story of Jesus as a 12-year-old hanging out in the Temple for three days. In the history of art, it’s known as “Jesus Among the Doctors,” and there is a great deal of wonderful art depicting the scene.
I’ll be working the text and prepping my sermon on the 24th (between baking pies), since I don’t have my kids that day, and I’d love to hear what others think about it.
As usual, I’m most interested in the redaction angle on the text — that is, Why is it here? Why only in Luke? Why the only story of Jesus’ youth? Why age 12? What’s its place in the narrative?
As the Gospel in miniature, this story from Luke 1-2 tells of a preliminary journey to Jerusalem. It’s a story of going to Jerusalem for the Passover and finding that Jesus isn’t with us anymore. Where is he?
“After three days, they found him in the temple.” It’s a story about the crucifixion and the resurrection. It’s the overture, so that when we get to the journey to Jerusalem, we’ll remember something about it. You come away, Jesus isn’t with you, you’re anxious about it. At the very end of the Gospel, Jesus will tell his disciples to meet him in Jerusalem, from where they will go out to the ends of the earth, the second volume of Luke’s story.
It’s a rehearsal of the Easter story, and it ends on the theme of Luke’s infancy narratives: “Mary treasured all these things in her heart.”
“The Gospel in miniature” — I like that phrase. A lot.
So, methinks I’ll be focusing on the importance of the Incarnation, and of Jesus’ own blindness to lack of comprehension of his own divinity. And the struggle that his parents and those around him had with his burgeoning role as messiah.