Saturday, 3 January 2009

The right attitudes for anxious times?

Tomorrow morning (Sunday 4th Jan) I will be preaching at St Peter's Shipley in advance of speaking at their Church Weekend in March. John Rainer, the Vicar of St Peter's, will be with St Mary's at our 9am and Central Gathering.
I will be using Luke 2:41-51 which is the account of Jesus getting left behind in Jerusalem and being found by his anxious parents engrossed in the question and answer teaching sessions of the Rabbi's at the temple.

Luke 2:49-51 have especially caught my attention; "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. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them"

I guess I am reflecting on this passage in the context of our re-engagement with an anxious western world during this New Year period. I find myself asking what is the right attitude for anxious times?

The passage raises questions about Jesus - surely he's being a bit perverse?
Initially this may be what Jesus looks like here. I reckon his mum goes into parental anxiety mode (a mixture of fear, worry, guilt produces a telling off for the child who doesn’t really deserve it).
But no – we do see Jesus seemingly working out what his Fathers 'business' (as the KJV puts it) is. Always, but especially in these times we need to be interacting with the scriptures, questioning and working out what is going on, what we need to learn and understand.

The passage presents a picture of a child dealing with tension
‘didn’t you know I had to be’ – indicates a sense of compulsion – expressing a necessity/compulsion to be responsive to his heavenly father whilst also having a need to be responsive to his earthly parents.
Here is a tension – here is a challenge – he is pulled in one way to be with his parents and the other to be with his heavenly Father. How is one to deal with this? It is good to know Jesus coped with tensions. How are we to deal with the tensions of life?
How did Jesus deal with it? He sensed his call to obey the Father but found that part of this involved submitting to his parents.
There will be times this year when submission is necessary at least for a time so that God can work out other things in your life. You may be able to do better than another, you may be cleverer, more skilled, more able in many ways and yet submission to another may be your call.
In fact in Jesus we see that submission was everything – it was exactly what enabled him to achieve his destiny and it may well be that Luke has given us a glimpse of how Jesus became mature enough to follow through his destiny to be our saviour – through many minor submissions and petty obediences.

This passage shows us a lost child who finds his security in the right place
Jesus must have known it was dangerous to attempt to go home alone – he wouldn't be clear how long it will take for parental help to come – so he goes where he will be safe and where he thinks is the obvious place to be.
Jesus’ logic is that surely his parents would know he would be in ‘my father’s house’.
The best translation is ‘house’ denoting ‘place’ – in other word's where the Father is. In the face of ‘lost-ness’ of insecurity and of anxiety Jesus is found in his father’s house.
Jesus, as a 12 year old, articulates something startling and profound – an intimate connection with a heavenly Father who is ‘daddy’.

We are meant to find our way to the Fathers house – the place of intimate connection, of security and of peace. We are meant to find Daddy – to find security in him – whatever the state of our relationship with our real Daddies – there is a true Daddy in whom we can find security, peace, meaning and joy.

When you lose your way... where are you found?
Are you found in your father’s house? Where Daddy is? Seeking his business? Do you even know him as Daddy?
I wonder if 2009 will be a year in which we (the Church) find a sense of calling to return to the Fathers House – rediscover relationship with Daddy.

In an anxious world what might our attitude be?
· Interact with the scriptures
· Be prepared to submit
· Find your way to security in Daddy – come to the Father’s House.

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