Children, Holidays and Travel. What parent doesn’t know that recipe. I’m guessing every parent here has a story like Mary and Joseph’s story of the annual family trip to Jerusalem to celebrate the passover. You watch over them, you fret over them, you worry about them day and night. And the one time you take your eyes off them, their gone and all you feel is panic as you frantically search for your lost child, every possible scenario playing out in your head, every horrible thing that could happen becomes a vivid reality as you desperately search for your lost child. And one of two things happens when you find your child. There’s the one thing deep down all parents want to happen. Parents don’t want any of the things they have imagined happening actually to have happened to their children, but deep down they all are hoping that their children have imagined at least some of what they themselves have imagined could happen. Then, they can come and comfort their wayward child and in comforting them in their fear they will themselves find comfort and relief from their own sense of helplessness, they can again be parents to their children. This is what parents might want to happen, but that is not always what happens. Sometimes, when you find your lost child , you find no tears, no fear, no recognition of any kind that anything did or even might have happened. Now deep down this is one of the most aggravating things that a parent can feel. Not only have they as parent endure terror as they have imagined all that might have happened to their lost child, but when they at last find them, there is nothing to comfort, there is not even any understanding that anything was at all wrong. I cannot imagine anything more frustrating for a parent, more horrible yes – any of those things that a parent might imagine happening to their lost child would be far more horrible – but more frustrating? No.
Every parent here can identify with Joseph and Mary in our Gospel lesson. Every parent here can feel with them their frustration when Mary says to Jesus, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” They had lost Him for three days, for three days He could have been dead, and when they find Him alive three days later, all He says to them is, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” What can you think? What can you say in the face of that frustration? Well I have the simple answer for you in three little words: TWELVE YEARS OLD!
What is so remarkable about this story of Jesus lost and Mary and Joseph’s desperate search for His and the utterly frustrating nature of their reunion is how unremarkable that story actually is. I am certain that ever parent whose child is or was twelve years old has a similar story to tell. And if you think about, these moments in Scripture are the moments that mean so much to us. The ordinary moments that we identify with. We all tend to focus on the big and miraculous moments: the angels singing, the wise men and their gifts, the sick and lame healed, the resurrection. These moments fill us with wonder and awe because they are so outside our everyday experience, but it is these ordinary moments that makes the extraordinary meaningful to us. It is the ordinary that turns the extraordinary from news into Good News.
Jesus was an ordinary child, just like any ordinary child here. He had ordinary parents, just like any ordinary parents here. And He had an ordinary life with ordinary experiences just like any one of us. But it is through this ordinary man that God come to us. The most miraculous thing are not the individual miracles worked by Jesus, but the very fact that the one and only, truly unique, became ordinary for us. The one true God, became the ordinary child, with ordinary parents, and ordinary experiences. He lived an ordinary life. He did some extraordinary things during that life, but that vast majority of that life, at least thirty years of it can be considered entirely ordinary. And He died a very ordinary death. When you think about that world and the number of people who shared the same death of Jesus in that time, you will have to admit that their was nothing that remarkable about it. He died on the cross as thousands had before and after Him.
But it is through these ordinary events in the life of this ordinary man that we receive the most extraordinary blessing. For this ordinary man was not just an ordinary man, this ordinary man is God made flesh. This ordinary man is Emmanuel, God with us. God Himself took on flesh and lived an ordinary life for us. God Himself suffered an ordinary sinners death – though He was without sin – and He suffered that death for us. And for three days He was lost, for three days He was dead. And three days later when He was raised from the dead, the one true God become ordinary man raised us ordinary sinners up with Him to forgiveness and everlasting life.
God took the ordinary to bring us the extraordinary and made the simply miraculous, truly Good News for you. And He continues to do that same thing today. He takes ordinary words on the page, and through them brings the very Word of God to us; He takes ordinary water with that Word and brings us new life; He takes ordinary bread and wine with that Word and make us one Body with Him raised from the dead to life everlasting. And as you go from here this week, if you look you will find small ordinary things happening to you each and every day that He will use to touch your heart and guide your steps. God is unique, God is miraculous, and God has done the most wonderful thing imaginable for us. But don’t look for the miraculous, for He came to us and comes to us every day, in simple ordinary ways.