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Friday, January 15, 2010

Church news, 1/15: "I must be about my Father's business"

On Sunday, Jan. 10, we joined the congregation of Holy Cross Anglican Church in Webster for a combined worship service and fellowship hour. We greatly appreciate the hospitality of our brothers and sisters at Holy Cross.

The sermon was jointly preached by "the two Davids", Fr. David Ambuske of Holy Cross and our own Fr. David Harnish.

Fr. Ambuske began by reminding us that the word "liturgy" means "the work of the people". "What better work could we have than to worship and serve God every day?" he asked, before proceeding to the sermon text, Luke 2:47-50.

"What would you do with a 12-year-old who acted as Jesus did? You take him to Jerusalem for the observance of Passover. The already large city is thronged with pilgrims, and as you're preparing to go home you discover that your son has left your family group and you have no idea where he is. He's not with your relatives. He's not with your friends.

"You rush back into the city, searching everywhere, and finally find him in the temple, among the learned rabbis, listening and asking questions.

"Relieved but also a little upset, you ask him why he did this, and his reply is, "Didn't you know I must be about my Father's business?

"Now, everyone who heard him was amazed at his knowledge and insight," Fr. Ambuske continued, "so while Mary and Joseph didn't understand what Jesus was telling them that day, we can assume he opened the scriptures to them as he had in the temple and as he would even after his resurrection, when he appeared to the disciples at Emmaus. We don't know if Mary and Joseph viewed Mary's son as the Messiah while he was growing up, but we know he returned with them and continued to grow in wisdom and grace."

Fr. David Harnish continued the message, pointing out that we aren't told a lot about the teen and young adult years of Jesus. "We know that he was able to answer the teachers at the age of 12, this 'homeschooled' boy. And then we have to try to fill in the gap between the ages of 12 and 29.

"We know Jesus continued to be homeschooled and that he learned carpentry from Joseph. There are apocryphal stories such as one in which he makes a clay bird and then causes it to live. We can reject this -- it's what a human would do who was becoming God, but Jesus was God become human. In these years he was learning more than Torah at home; he was learning to be fully human, fully obedient to His Heavenly Father, and learning how to communicate God to us.

"Today we also celebrate His baptism, the beginning of His earthly ministry. And we know the first words He spoke in that ministry were, 'Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.'

"Now, Jesus had no need for baptism, but He did it as a step of obedience to God that all could see because He was inviting all humanity to take the same step -- to die to self and come alive to God, obedient and faithful.

"Life is about transformation (repentance and faith): starting to see better and recognizing that God is here with us. Becoming all that we were intended by God to be because we have heard the call of Jesus Christ to turn and come back to God.

"In the baptism of Jesus Christ," Fr. David concluded, "all Heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended as God, the Father said, 'This is my beloved child with whom I am well pleased.' Jesus invites us to the same experience, and to open to Him in faith with repentance and then to hear these same words. May we be open to his call and listen carefully to Him."

NOTES: We will be worshipping in the chapel at Reformation Lutheran Church as usual this coming Sunday, Jan. 17, at the usual 10 AM time. Please join us there.

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