May 12 Who is Our Parent?

Who is Our Parent? Who is our Family? What is Our Calling?

Luke 2: 41-52

May 12, 2024

          Our Scripture today is a familiar one, isn’t it?

          At the heart of it is the question Jesus asks his parents, “Didn’t you know that I would be in my Father’s House?”

          It leads me to think about three questions that Jesus was probably asking: Who is my parent? Who is my family? And What is my calling?

          I believe God is inviting us to ask these same questions today of ourselves.

          Who is our parent? Who is our family? And What is our calling?

Be thinking of how you would answer those questions and I’ll invite you to share your answers in a bit.

Crosby read the story. Our children acted out the story. Now imagine if Jesus were standing before us today telling us this story.

          “I was just twelve years old at the time. About the same age as Crosby over there. It’s a difficult age, you know. I was just beginning to leave my childhood behind. But I was not yet an adult. It was really an in-between time of my life.

          I was raised in a traditional Jewish home with traditional Jewish values and beliefs. I respected those traditions, and I respected my parents. But…

          But I was growing up and beginning to look beyond the traditional.  I was just starting to see life a little differently. It was like I was being challenged to leave the comfortable and familiar. I could see a bigger picture.

          We were on our annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover. Every good Jewish family participated in this nation-wide religious event. You can imagine how large the crowds were in Jerusalem at that time.

          When we arrived at the Temple in Jerusalem that year I felt a stirring inside for the first time. It was like I was being awakened from a deep sleep and began to see life with fresh eyes.

          The teachers of the Law were by the temple gates talking to whoever would listen. People were asking them questions. These were some of the wisest teachers in all Judaism. It was an opportunity for common, ordinary people from all over to get their questions answered.

          Some questions were stirring inside me at the time. I hung around that area of the Temple for hours trying to work up the courage to ask my questions. Those hours might have turned into days.

          But finally, I worked myself up to the front of the crowd. I got the courage to speak aloud the questions that were swirling around in my heart and mind. The first question I yelled out was this one: Who is My Parent?

          I was surprised by the answer I heard. One of the teachers of the Law said, “Of course, the traditional and correct answer is: your earthly mother and father. They are your parents. But young man, I’d encourage you to look beyond the traditional answer. Who are the people who have played parenting roles in your life? Are there relatives or other adults who have helped raise you and teach you and nurture you? They are your parents as well.

But beyond that, I want to point out that our loving God is your parent. God has been raising you, teaching you and nurturing you. God is your parent as well.”

          Let’s pause in this story that Jesus is telling about listening to the teachers in the Temple. I want to know how you would answer that question. Who are your parents? (Like the teachers in the temple, let’s go beyond the traditional understanding of the people who gave birth to you.) How would you answer that question? Who are your parents? Who helped in raising you, teaching you, nurturing you?

          Let’s go back to Jesus in the temple with the Jewish teachers. Jesus is talking to us about his experience.  

          “You know, a light bulb went on in my head for the first time. I began to see beyond the traditional ways. I sensed God’s presence and love in a new and fresh way. I felt God as my loving Parent.

          More time elapsed and I thought of a follow up question. Eventually I blurted it out, “Who is my family?”

          Another one of the teachers answered this one, “Son, the traditional and correct answer of course is your nuclear family: your parents, your siblings and yourself. That is your family. But young man, I’d encourage you to look beyond the traditional answers. Who is your family? Look around you now. We are all your family. We share a heavenly Parent and therefore, we are all your siblings. We are your family.”

          Let’s pause in this story with Jesus and the teachers in the Temple. How would you answer that question? Who is your family? Like the teacher said, let’s go beyond the traditional understanding of family. Who has been your family over the years in your life or who is your family right now?

          We return to Jesus listening to the teachers in the Temple. Jesus is telling us about his experience.

          “I could see that my family was expanding by the insight this teacher was sharing with me. It included all these wonderful people around me right now. But it also included people from around the world. If all of us were created by God and God is our heavenly parent, then everyone alive is a part of my family.  

          I pondered this for many hours before the next question came: What is My Calling?

          A third teacher answered this: “Son, I can’t answer that for you. But I can tell you this. I believe God has some special call on your life. God wants God’s kingdom of love and justice to reign in this world. And you have a special part to play in working to see that happen.

Young man, listen to the Spirit’s leading. The Spirit will guide you. Don’t be fooled by the easy or even traditional paths, but let God direct you in God’s way. Stay awake. Pay attention.”

          Let’s pause again and ask ourselves that question: What is your calling? What has been your calling? How would you answer that question?

          We return to Jesus’ story.

          It was about the time that the teacher was answering my third question when my parents showed up. I didn’t realize so much time had gone by. They said they had been looking for me for days, but was it really that long? I don’t know. All I know is that my mom was angry. She said, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been very worried, and we have been searching for you!”

I answered, “Why did you have to look for me? Didn’t you know that I would be in my Father’s house?”

I was pointing them to my new understanding of who my parents were. It went beyond the traditional answer of Mary and Joseph. I was directing them to God who nurtured and cared for me like a loving Parent.

I was pointing them to my new understanding of who my family was. It went beyond my family consisting of Mary, Joseph, James, and my other brothers. I was directing them to this family gathered around me in God’s Temple, my Father’s House.

 But my parents: Mary and Joseph didn’t understand what I meant.

I hope you understand. It was starting to sink in what those teachers were trying to teach me. I was beginning to look beyond the traditional answers. I sensed God as my loving parent and this whole human family as my siblings.

I also for the first time a call: the call of God on my life. I had a special mission. I was sent by God for a reason, a purpose. It would take another 18 years of waiting and discerning and praying for that calling to become crystallized. But it did. I said, “Yes to God.” And that has made all the difference. 

          I pray that you too say Yes to God’s call on your life. It will make all the difference.

          As each of us ponders these three questions: Who is my parent? Who is my family? And What is my call? We’ll listen to Alexandra share some special music.

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