In “preaching study” posts, I share study & reflection as I prepare the Sunday message . I welcome interaction in this process, so feel free to share your thoughts. All Scripture quotes are from the NRSV unless otherwise noted. Thanks!
This week I’ve been in Houston meeting with the staff of John Wesley UMC, where I’ve been appointed beginning in June. We had a good time yesterday meeting people and seeing the church and parsonage, though it was a long day to be sure. We’re at my parents house in SW Houston now and will head home shortly. That said, I’m just now getting some initials thoughts on this Sunday’s sermon for Mother’s Day. I plan to preach a sermon addressed the theme of Mother’s Day, though, of course no one had that it mind when they were writing the Old and New Testaments. If they had only been more interested in addressing the needs of 21st century preachers!
So, here are some rough thoughts:
The text I’m working from this year is Luke 2:41-52, the one in which Jesus is 12 years old and stays back in the Temple. Joseph and Mary are beside themselves when they realize he isn’t with the group that’s walking home and hurry back frantically in order to find him. When they discover him in the Temple “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (2:46), Jesus seems pretty nonchalant about the whole affair. He rejoins the group returning to Nazareth and “was obedient” to his folks. Then Luke adds: “His mother treasured all these things in her heart.” So that’s what I’m working from and reflecting on. How does this seemingly extraneous tagline from the pen of Luke and this story of Jesus as a preteen intersect our honoring of mothers in 2006?
As for the study aspect, I’ll offer this and then have more for tomorrow…
1. I wonder about Jesus’ status in Jewish soceity at age 12. Since they didn’t have something called “adolescence” like we do, how did his family and community and culture think of him and other 12 year olds?
2. Obviously, I wonder what exactly Mary was treasuring. She had been scared out of her wits when she couldn’t find him, which she expressed pretty clearly in v48. But everyone in the Temple was impressed with his “understanding and his answers” (v47), which had to have made his mother proud.
3. I suspect this episode, in light of Luke’s commentary that Mary “treasured all these things in her heart,” would best be read with Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55 squarely in the background. In fact Mary’s whole experience of God’s call on her life concerning this boy stands as the backdrop to this scene. What comes to light about this incident when we keep the preceding 2 chapters in mind?
One last thing to share. Last year, some creative folks in the church came up with the idea to have people bring framed pictures of their mothers to set up on the communion rail for worship. It was wonderful. We could feel the presence of the “cloud of witnesses.” We’re doing it this year too.