If you had to find Jesus right now, where would you look? Could you do it within three days? His parents who knew him presumably better than everyone else when he was 12 took three days to find him in the temple. How long would it take to be able to say with surety, “Jesus is here”?
I’ve thought quite a bit about this over the last few days. We’ve just celebrated Christmas – all five Advent candles lit, the baby Jesus appearing in crèches after 4 weeks of anticipation, lessons and carols read and sung, and people showed up in churches who haven’t been seen since Easter. It’s all been done in Christ’s name. So where is he now?
And, please, don’t tell me that you find God in nature. I’m not saying this isn’t true or that it isn’t a valid experience of the Creator. I get it. I go to the ocean when I need to feel close to God. What I’m asking is where do you encounter Jesus, the One who is at the center of the holiday we just celebrated. The liturgical season of Christmas has just begun. The other aspects of the Trinity are easier to find. But I’m looking for the Incarnate One, the one who was just born anew.
I certainly don’t see much evidence of his presence in what is reported on the news. The hateful arguments about gun control claim Jesus on both sides. The same is true with wars and other things. We are good at claiming that Jesus is present in lots of things. But I’m not so sure.
The Colossians passage gives a pretty good indication of where we ought to be able to find Jesus:
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
What would happen if everyone who celebrated Christmas put on these clothes? Finding Jesus might not be so difficult. Jesus would be everywhere. Imagine those debates on gun control, the fiscal cliff, or mental health care if all those involved entered them with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Jesus might actually show up in something more than by name.
My intention here is not to criticize. Think about the One whose birth we just celebrated again. Jesus shouldn’t be all that difficult to find if we are actually thinking about it and looking for him.
We all experienced grief when we heard about the children who were killed in Newtown, CT. Take a second and remember for yourself where you were, how you heard, and how you felt. Now think about this: Sweet, innocent children are murdered daily. We don’t see it. We don’t let it touch us. For this same reason we don’t find Jesus every day.
RCL – Year C – First Sunday After Christmas – December 30, 2012
1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26