We give all the glory to God for the first Sunday after Christmas and the last Sunday in the year 2018. The question is, after Christmas, what follows in relation to the sense of our expectation? The New Year summons us to anticipate and find a new encounter with Jesus, the source of our hope, peace, joy and love. After Christmas, we must not make the mistake made by Joseph and Mary, who after the festival of the Passover, ‘headed home, down that well worn road to the Jordan valley,’ while Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. When Christmas become ‘usual’ without spiritual impact, it makes one to go through a routine celebration and spirituality, just as Mary and Joseph went ‘… down the well worn road…’ The question is, do you return to your former way of life after Christmas just as Mary and Joseph ‘started to return’ after the Passover? Mary and Joseph had the knowledge about the festival of the Passover in Jerusalem but they lack the knowledge of tarrying and staying in God’s presence in Jerusalem. The reflection is that you can celebrate Christmas just as the group of travellers did as a ceremony without any spiritual impact. To Jesus, “My Father’s House and Business” is about salvation of souls, hence any Christian festival that fails to draw people to God’s House and Business of saving souls amounts to busyness.
Beloved, life and mission after Christmas especially as we go into the New Year calls us into a growing relationship and walk with God just as Jesus, though lost and unknown to his parents was involved in a growing relationship with his Divine father. The New Year calls us to be in our Father’s house and involved in our Father’s business interests of saving souls. Failure to do this suggests that we too are lost regardless of our leadership and maintenance responsibilities. Mary and Joseph though busy with parental responsibility coupled with their painful anxiety were guilty of spiritual lostness.
Many today like Mary and Joseph are lost to the Son who is in the Father’s house and about his Father’s business, as he expounds “the heads of the law and the parables of the prophets.” Another sad new is that when you are lost to the Son, you are also lost to the Father (Jn 6:36-45). We can argue that Joseph and Mary were innocent or did not know that they were the one that were lost to Jesus and that he was even claiming another parent. The reflection is that our past testimony and encounter with God should not be a barrier or graduation from our continuous growing and renewing relationship and walk with God. It is very sad, Mary like many today after being used of God for a particular purpose could become so familiar with the festival and thereby missed its spiritual and renewal essence. The festival became a usual and familiar routine for Mary and Joseph but for Jesus, the festival prepares him to be in his Father’s House and Business all the time. Just as the festival is not an end in itself, Christmas is not an end in itself but a preparation for a renewing and growing relationship and abiding in the Father’s House and Business of mission and evangelism. Many today are repeating the mistake of Mary and Joseph by returning to their past immediately after the festival just as many are returning with the crowd to their past thereby not available in the Father’s House and Business. Many did not have the knowledge of what is expected of them after Christmas just as Mary and Joseph did not know what follows the Passover. Thanks to God, when they discovered their lostness among the crowd, they returned to Jerusalem for Jesus.
Mary’s and Joseph’s three days of painful searching resonates with finding Jesus “after three days of searching in the passion and Easter story. What makes us lost to Jesus just as what made Joseph and Mary lost to Jesus is our walk with the crowds, groups of travellers, lack of understanding, not “knowing” of Jesus’ higher allegiance and calling and this develops to the prevailing sin of unbelief today. The world and the church are lost today when we do not know, or understand Jesus as the ONLY Saviour and therefore do not or cannot believe (Luk 18:34). The church is “losing” members and “declining” today because of lack of knowledge about Jesus. The Bible says, my people perish for lack of knowledge. God says, “My people,” what a sad outcome, to perish despite all our religious activities, like Joseph and Mary. It doesn’t matter who you are and what you are in the church, you can still perish if you are not in the Father’s House and doing the Father’s business, pointing people to Jesus, the Way of Salvation. The world and the church are increasingly anxious ‘like Jesus’ parents because of ‘uninformed, prejudicial, “don’t understand,” and/or legalistic attachments (under the Law) to Scripture quotations rather than “family response-ability” to the Father of our Lord who would have none be “lost.”
The question for us to reflect as we go into the New Year and in order to be found again with Jesus is, ‘what will you do and be as “son and daughter of the Father in his house and business?” Year 2019 is another opportunity to find Jesus again, repent from our busyness, worry and anxiety so as to be restored from our lostness.
Happy New Year in our Father’s House and Business.