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Summary: Like Mary and Joseph, we too can lose Jesus if we don’t watch where he is going. If we find ourselesv in that position, we need to stop everything and go back to where we last knew him him

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Our Gospel reading this morning is the only story recorded in Scripture that recounts an event in Jesus’ teenage years.

The hidden years you might say

Mary and Joseph go to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Passover with Jesus their twelve-year-old son.

When Passover was over they began to trek back home.

It was only when they had travelled a whole day’s journey and pitched their tents that they had realized they had lost Jesus.

Just before you write them off as being bad parents by not watching their kids – you need to understand they were travelling in a large group.

The women and children generally would start their journey ahead of the men, because they travelled slower.

By evening time, when they would make camp when the men had caught up with the women and children.

I guess Mary thought Jesus was with Joseph and Joseph thought Jesus was with Mary.

So it wasn’t until evening they found that they had lost Jesus.

Story: Maddy and I once had a similar experience when we lost Chris aged about 5 in Vaduz in Liechtenstein one day.

I thought he was with Maddy – as she was talking with Vivien and she thought he was with me – as I was talking with Vivien’s husband Steven.

I can still remember how panic stricken we were until we found him again and that is over 20 years ago

You see it can happen to any of us.

Mary and Joseph lost Jesus for three days. Just imagine how they must have felt.

We too can lose Jesus if we don’t watch where he is going

I guess it is part of Christian living that the longer we are Christians the greater the danger we can lose him for a while.

We can even get caught up in doing his works and drift away

The Bishop of Oxford, John Pritchard wrote in the latest issue of Christianity (Dec 2012) in his article “God Lost and Found”:

“Have you ever looked around your church and wondered what all these good people are really, no kidding, hand on heart thinking about the worship this morning? I fear if you could see the thought bubble above many heads there would be rather less red hot faith than the minister would like to think.”

John Pritchard goes on to say:

“The reality is that most of us at some stage of our Christian journey enter a grey period when the vivid awareness of God that we used to delight in has disappeared.

What was once bright and shiny is now tarnished and dull.

Of course we keep the mask on because it would be just too embarrassing to stay home or go jogging on Sunday morning, but deep down we are going through the motions.

The famous Dutch born Catholic priest and Christian philosopher Henri Nouwen – author of the book “The Wounded Healer” who died in 1996 said this about his own spiritual journey:

“After sixty-three years of life and thirty eight years of priesthood, my prayer seems as dead as a rock.

The words “darkness” and “dryness” seem best to describe my prayer today”

We can be involved in Church – but then we can miss out on where Jesus is.

His parents backtracked to where they had last seen him – and found him in the Temple.

• if we have lost him,

• if our love for him has grown cold,

we need – like Joseph and Mary - to stop everything we are doing UNTIL we find him again

As I was preparing this sermon on Friday, I was reminded of what God said to the Church in Ephesus in the book of Revelation in Chapter 2 verses 1-7.

This is what St John the Divine records – with God speaking:

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands.

2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.

3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.

5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

6 But you have this in your favour: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

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