Summary: A sermon on losing sight of Christ, then finding him again.
FINDING CHRIST AGAIN
Gospel Text: Luke 2:41-52
First Sunday after Christmas, 2015
We’re in that “new beginnings” time of year. Christmas Day is past, and the new year is coming. Of course, for us Christmas itself was a great beginning -- we celebrated the beginning of the Gospel, the gift of Christ to the world. It is true that Advent is our “new year,” the season when the church turns its calendar.
In light of all that, what better time to stop and reflect on one’s faith-life. What about my Christian commitment? Do I have any resolutions that need to be made?
Maybe I find myself in something of a spiritual slump. If so, it’s a great time to turn things around, and start moving forward again. But even if not in a slump, we all have areas that need improvement, where we need to grow up some more, or where we need to pick up the pace in our Christian walk.
On the other hand, neither of these might be you. Maybe you find yourself in something worse than a slump. Maybe you feel a bit like you’re out of the game altogether. Maybe the Christ, who was once so much a part of your life, no longer seems to be there.
If that’s the case, our text this morning has something to say especially for you. Because here is the story of Mary and Joseph, who had Christ in their life, then lost him, then found him again.
This morning we are going to follow Mary and Joseph’s story, and think about how we too might lose sight of Christ, but then at last come to find him again. For the shape of their story can fit the shape of ours as well.
So the title of the sermon is “Finding Christ Again.” We will look at three stages in the journey back to Christ. First, there is the one where we realize that Christ is missing. Second, there is the one where we go looking for him. And then at last, there is the one where we find him again.
But let’s start by noticing one thing that we might easily overlook in the story. For a good while, Christ was indeed missing, but Mary and Joseph didn’t notice it. So it will be for us. If Christ goes missing from our lives, there will have been a time before that, when we neglected to be sure he was there.
Not to criticize Mary and Joseph too much, because no parents are perfect -- not even the holy ones. But Mary and Joseph evidently got so concerned with the journey back home that they failed to pay attention to Jesus, to be sure he was with them as they went.
We can understand this. We too can get so busy with our earthly concerns, and with driving toward some earthly purpose, that we leave Christ behind.
We can get caught up in the values of our culture. Affluence, Appearance, and Achievement are what our culture values. But these are not the values of the kingdom. So when we buy into these values, and devote our time and energy to them, we necessarily leave Christ behind.
Another aspect of our culture that can hurt us is its endless capacity for distraction. It clamors for our minds in so many ways. Technology has brought its blessings, but it has also delivered the possibility for an unlimited drain on our attention.
So living in the culture that we do, it is easy for disciples to get caught up in it all, and forget to ask, where is Christ in all of this? Then we can get distracted by other things, and before we realize it, we have left Christ behind.
If that happens, it is important to be like Mary and Joseph, and finally come to realize that Christ is really missing.
We see that Mary and Joseph had a moment of quiet at the end of the day’s journey, when it occurred to them to think about Jesus, and wonder where he was. They took stock of the situation, and realized that he was not there.
It is impossible to overstress the importance of these moments of quiet, of taking stock of our spiritual inventory. And whatever we find, it’s important to be awake to it. We must be fully honest with ourselves about the state of our faith.
We might find that our earthly existence has become centered on something less than Christ. Perhaps some worldly desire that will die with us when we leave this earth, has taken an obsessive hold on us.
Or we might find that some anxious fear is driving us. The “joy and peace in believing,” of which the scriptures speak, is gone. Instead of love leading us, fear is driving us.