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That time Jesus' parents lost track of him

December 19, 2022

Daily Scripture

Luke 2:41-51

41 Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. 42 When he was 12 years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to their custom. 43 After the festival was over, they were returning home, but the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t know it. 44 Supposing that he was among their band of travelers, they journeyed on for a full day while looking for him among their family and friends. 45 When they didn’t find Jesus, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple. He was sitting among the teachers, listening to them and putting questions to them. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed by his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were shocked.
His mother said, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Listen! Your father and I have been worried. We’ve been looking for you!”
49 Jesus replied, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they didn’t understand what he said to them.
51 Jesus went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. His mother cherished every word in her heart.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

On Advent’s fourth Sunday, we lit the candle of love. In a touching moment in the beloved Christmas film Home Alone, Kevin said, “Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back?” * Did you know that, like Kevin’s parents, Jesus’ parents once lost track of him? But while Kevin busily fended off burglars, Jesus’ parents found him calmly amazing Temple experts while discussing spiritual questions with them.

  • It’s clear that Jesus’ parents didn’t automatically assume he was in the Temple. Luke said they were shocked when they found Jesus there. What do you think Jesus’ precocious fascination with the Temple teachers said about him? When he began to preach publicly, he said, “Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). How much of an appetite do you usually have for God? How can you maintain and increase that inner hunger and thirst?
  • Jesus’ parents lost Jesus for a day—and spent three days finding him. Think of a time when you lost track of Jesus, and lived for days (or maybe even weeks, months or years) with no contact with him. What helps you maintain a continual contact with Jesus—and confidently return to him if you do lose touch? Can you trust that he never loses track of you (cf. Psalm 139:7-12)?

Loving Lord, what an inner sense of recognition, of belonging, you must have had on that first visit to the Temple. Let my growing awareness of your love help me feel more and more “at home” in your presence. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood serves on the Worship Experience team at Resurrection. She loves all things related to worship and enjoys working with our talented team of staff and volunteers. One of her favorite things to read about and study are stained glass windows, and she considers herself very blessed to work and worship in a place with such a magnificent window.

Have you ever lost your keys? Your phone? That important paper somewhere on your desk? Or have you ever been lost without any sense of direction? Researchers estimate that we spend 3,680 hours, approximately 6 months of our lives, searching for things we’ve lost or trying to find our way when we get lost.

When I think about the word lost, most of the time it has a negative connotation. Losing something/someone, or being lost, invokes feelings of fear, sadness, and anxiety. On the other hand, the word found brings about feelings of safety, security, joy, and peace.

The summer before the COVID pandemic, I went to London to sing at a festival with my church choir. It was my first time in London and I was so excited. Besides all the planned group tours and rehearsals, I really wanted to explore a bit on my own–at the top of my list was going to a Choral Evensong at St. Paul’s Cathedral. One afternoon after choir rehearsal, I got permission from our director to go to St. Paul’s. We weren’t supposed to go anywhere in London by ourselves…we were always supposed to have a buddy or two. But in this instance, St. Paul’s was not far from the rehearsal hall and my director thought it would be ok if I went alone. It was beautiful and amazing, an experience I will never forget. I’ll also never forget what happened afterwards.

As I left St. Paul’s it was early evening and I wasn’t quite ready to head back to the hotel, so I decided to explore a bit more of London. I got on the Tube with some destinations in mind and began exploring. While trying to find the last place on my list, I somehow ended up on the right train, but going in the wrong direction. When I got off, I found myself in a part of London that immediately felt unsafe, especially for a female all by herself at night. With my pride fully in control, I got off the Tube and began walking around determined to find my own way. Within about 10 minutes, I realized I was totally and completely lost, and potentially very unsafe. My phone battery was almost gone, and I had no clue how to find my way back. In that moment of being lost, I felt afraid, anxious, and alone. No one from our group knew where I was, and no one knew me in the area I found myself in. For several terrifying moments, I prayed to be found…I prayed for direction. Eventually, I met a very kind person who not only gave me directions but walked me to the next Tube stop and told me exactly how to get back to my hotel. That fear from being lost stayed with me a long time.

There are many other moments in my life when I’ve been lost, or I’ve lost something. Sometimes, I don’t even realize I’m lost. But no matter how many times I wander away, no matter how many times I lose something or someone…God is always there. He never loses track of me. He finds me in my moments of grief and sadness…he finds me in my moments of fear and anxiety…he finds me when my pride has led me astray. He will always find me. And each time he finds me, he pours his love and grace and joy and peace into my life. He helps set me on the right path AND he walks beside me.

I believe that we all desire to be found…to be seen. No matter how long we’ve been wandering around lost and searching, God, in his immense love for us, is ready to find us and rescue us from being lost. My prayer for all who are reading this is that you feel found by God this day.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.