I’ve discovered that as I’ve got older it has become easier to forget where I’ve put things. It’s actually quite worring.
Keys – losing my house keys would be a nightmare. But some of you will know that I have left church keys in all sorts of places in the last few years, fortunately without dire consequences as yet.
Notes for my sermon – imagine getting to church just before the service and discovering you’ve left your notes at home. I have managed it at least once recently and had to adlib the sermon. Some might say, why, couldn’t we have just got on with the service without a sermon?
Jo – I do know my wife’s name, I promise you but I have caught myself calling her Gill on a number of occasions recently. Gill is my sister’s name.
I hope you can sympathise with me!
I wonder, have you ever searched for something only to find that it wasn’t really lost? You ransack the house looking for spectacles, only to find that they’re on your head. You turn out the drawer looking for the tin-opener, only to find that it was already on the work-top. You search down the sides of the cushions on the sofa for your car-keys, only to find them in your pocket.
Embarrassing, isn’t it! You want to hide! If you’re like me you’re tempted to make up a good story about how you found them, especially if you’ve involved other people in an unnecessary search!
Mary and Joseph search Jerusalem for three days thinking that Jesus is lost. When they finally track him down in the temple they find that he isn=t lost at all. Jesus says very calmly, “Why were you searching for me?”
Jesus has recognised his identity as God’s son: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Just like Samuel in the Old Testament reading above, Jesus was at home, most at home in God’s house. He was not lost at all.
This visit of Jesus to the temple at twelve years of age – perhaps his bar-mitzfer – is like a homecoming. He’s in his Father’s house. For him, a theological principle has become an intimate, personal experience. The Jews believed in the divine fatherhood of God. For Jesus this was not just theory, it was a lived out experience – time and again throughout the Gospels we are reminded that he knew God as his Father. In the Temple, Jesus was at home.
You might know this quotation from a prayer of St. Augustine: “Lord, you have made us and our hearts are restless until they find their resting place in you.”
Jesus experienced a homecoming in his visit to the temple. We can similarly experience a homecoming – finding our resting place in Christ. Jesus says: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Many people spend their lives searching for something – not sure exactly what it is they’re looking for. It is the Bible’s claim, not just St. Augustine’s, that we find ourselves when we find God – that our searching ceases when we find our rest in God.
For Christians that sense of belonging, of being at home, is embodied in the Eucharist. At God’s table, we are welcomed without condemnation, without question. As we take the bread and as we take the wine, we are at home, sharing in fellowship with the God who made us, is with us, and thinks the world of us. We’re not lost – we’re at home.