The Holy Gospel: December 30, 2012 (Year C)

Read:  Luke 2:41-52

Meditation:  “A Glimpse into Normality”

We hardly have Christmas behind us before we are guided to read the story of Jesus when he was twelve years old.  We would feel like we’d been shot out of a cannon, except for the final verse in today’s lesson:  “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years (or ‘stature’) and in divine and human favor” (v. 52)

Thank you, Luke!  With one sentence he kept the childhood of Jesus from being totally covered in mystery and subject to even more misinterpretation than has turned out to be the case with some of the fanciful stories about his pre-teen years.

Instead, he told us that Jesus grew up pretty much like all of us are supposed to do—one day at a time, under the care of loving parents.  Luke told us that God’s will is increase, not the way the prosperity gospel (which is no gospel) portrays it, but in the sense of ever drawing closer to God and to other people.  The story is Luke’s way of saying that Jesus was growing into the kind of person who lived out the two great commandments.

And that’s exactly what the story of Jesus in the temple tells us–if we don’t embellish it with some kind of “super powers” on the part of Jesus.  He was about his Father’s business, and that’s exactly what our growing up is supposed to produce.  We are, like Jesus, supposed to bring all the experience of our maturation and consecrate it to the doing of God’s will.

Maybe one reason why the lectionary doesn’t wast much time in getting us “on with the story,” is that this is what Advent is supposed to result in—a life doing God’s business.  And we’re not supposed to wait a long time to get at it!

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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