My Father's House
One of the lectionary readings for the week is Luke 2:41-52, which is the description of Jesus, as a 12 year old, staying at the temple while his parents were returning home.
I have always sympathized with Mary and Joseph. I think it's a gut reaction to the idea of not knowing where one's child is -- of physically losing a child. I've even written about it before (this link).
When his parents find him, Jesus says, "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (verse 49). Obviously, they did not know where he was; they had been looking for him for three days. If one of my boys said that to me, I would think he was being disrespectful.
The Disciplines devotion this morning, though, pointed out another viewpoint -- one that I had never seen before. Jesus didn't know he was lost. He was home. More than with his parents, he was in his Father's house. He is actually surprised that his parents didn't know where he was -- where else would he be? He is home.
It occurred to me that that idea -- of the temple being his home -- is quite lovely. I'm wondering how we can give the children of our churches a tiny amount of that confidence that their church is their home.
- I think that it is important to make children and youth feel welcome -- not as guests, but as members of the family. Do we know their names? Do we speak to them? Are we interested in what they have to say? Do the children and youth of your church know YOUR name?
- We should make sure that we never have the attitude that the church belong to ME more than it belongs to anyone else. The church belongs to God. As such, we are ALL welcome in it. When we make statements which create a second class of members -- children and youth -- we teach our children to think of the church as belonging to someone else. We teach them that it is NOT their home.
- Just like in a family's home, members need responsibility. We need to make sure that our children and youth have a role to play in the working of the church. Our youth groups are not outside social clubs meeting in our basement. Our children's programming does not have the sole purpose of teaching our children about God. These members of our church need to feel included, and being included means having a place in the Body of Christ. The possibilities are endless. In addition to that, all members of our churches, including children and youth, need to have a voice in deciding what that role might be. It is not just assigned -- it is discovered.
How can we make sure that our children feel that the church is their home? It's a big question, and it's one which deserves some attention.
Image: From the web site Hermanoleon