What’s the matter with Kids?

by admin on January 14, 2014

Christmas 1
Reflections for 29 December 2013
Luke 2: 41-52

Two young brothers at grandparent’s house week before Christmas. At bedtime they kneel beside the bed and pray. Younger boy at the top of his lungs: I pray for a new razor scooter and a dvd player.” Older brother nudges him and says, “Why are your shouting? God isn’t deaf.” “I know—grandmas is.”

Kids—–what’s the matter with kids these days. Kids. They don’t listen to anything you say. Kids. They are disobedient, disrespectful, oafs…..Why can’t they be like we were—perfect in the very way….What’s the matter with kids these days?

Christmas is a kid’s time. From kids wide eyed with excitement and up at 3:30 am, tugging at your arm; to the kid in us all. Christmas is a good time to think about being a kid.

This is a peculiar gospel. The last “birth story”. Jesus as a kid. Lost. Mom and dad frantic and filled with anxiety. Jesus rather above it all answer. Mom ponders.

This reading is a treasure trove for what’s not there. There is no psychological development of Jesus growing understanding of his identity. There is no insight into Jesus hidden years. Although there’s tons of books out there on both of these topics, claiming the inside scoop. Bart Ehrman, Marcus Borg, John Spong et al.

This is theology, pure and simple. Theology told in a warm human story. Theology might be good to think about. We all do, some of us formally, other not so; but all of us think about religious issues; spiritual meaning; we think about God, our ultimate concerns, the meaning and purpose of life. Tillich: ultimate concern. ML: that’s your god.

Instead of saying: I’d like to lecture today on the doctrine of the Incarnation and it’s subsequent ramifications for existential being.” Luke, the gospel writer, says, “Here’s a story we all can relate to.”

A kid gets lost; his mom and dad are beside themselves. We lost Meghan once—in Gold Circle. See it all now: her face on the milk carton. We were so filled with anxiety that we never went back there again. The whole thing made us more watchful. This is to the chagrin of kids—Mom and dad are over protective. We call that: helicopter parenting.

Jesus life at home was like that. So, what’s Luke trying to say? A couple of things.

1. Being parents;
being a child is a special call from God. If you are a parent—never done—be on the alert that you can’t take for granted your kids.

Being a kid can open the door to a greater understanding about God. Kids have a lot to teach us adults—we need to listen.

There was a lot of “Jesus as a kid” stories circulating in the early church. Luke uses this one largely because of his budding adolescence. This is the toughest time. Not a kid; not an adult. Kinda pubescent never never land.

This is a critical time in adult formation. This is when values, ethics, religious norms become tested, and eventually adopted. Into patterns of behavior. Lots of experimentation here: alcohol, sex, drugs, music—-worldviews that last a lifetime.

Best selling book: “Mom, I can’t stand your guts…but first can you take me and Cheryl to the mall?”

One of the best insights into my own personal psyche came from 12/13 year old Sarah. Dad, you’re just going to have to quit living your life through me. Ouch. Why, can’t they be like we were—perfect in every way?

Kids teach us about God because they force us to examine ourselves. Our decision as adults is either to accept that awesome invitation or proclaim: “as long as you live in my house….”

We cheat ourselves out of so many rewarding growth experiences out of fear that our kids may be right, after all.

2. More than a childhood story, we have here a glimpse that Jesus grew up. New news for a lot of Christians. This is a transition between infancy and ministry. Between revelation about Jesus and what he himself revealed.

This is a great significance of puberty—between cute baby and productive adult. Teenagers are not junior adults; but they are searching for adult stature.

The challenge of Christianity is to experience God in Jesus Christ; not merely to talk about it.

Jesus’ answer: “I’ve got to be about the stuff of my Father in heaven.” Is already a clue into Jesus’ call as Son of God. When we are about the stuff of our heavenly Father, we are living the life of faith. We are not just talking about it. Nova values: Compassion, Forgiveness, Generosity, Hope, Humility.

Jesus did not allow distraction to detour him from his single-minded purpose.

3. Holy Family. Nativity scene—serene, calm, blissful. Here we hear anxiety, fear, and probably the hidden thought: I’m going to slap you, Jesus. Don’t make me stop this car.

Families are messy. We all got one. There is a theology of family here: it is the place of transition and growing. It is the place where God ought to be experienced. We think church is about that—it’s not. We come to church to experience God in such a way as to open our senses to that greater reality that God is out there in the world.

We’re going to take down the tree this week.. Put Christmas away. Box up tradition, holiday sprit, and recipes. Whenever you do that, remember that’s being about the Father’s business.

The Father….always at work in our lives. Always with grace. Always for good. Always making us like he is….perfect in every way.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: