When my son was few weeks old he became very sick with what the doctors thought might be meningitis. Those few days in the hospital broke something in me. I determined that as his mother, I would never let anything bad happen to him again. Months later, I realized the foolishness of my thoughts; but they made sense at the time. Mothers, like anyone who loves another, wish we could control the world to protect our people. The tragedy is that we can’t, but often we try to distract ourselves from this fact or persuade ourselves that we have at least some control.

Jesus remains the example of what it means to fully surrender oneself to a life lived for God. Even as a teenager he was teaching those around him. Luke 2 tells the story of Jesus in the Temple during Passover, the festival to commemorate the time God overcame the power of Pharaoh. Jesus is in the thick of the festivities, so much so that he stays behind, unnoticed, to remain in the Temple and learn about God.

His good news—his time of sitting and learning, of growing in wisdom and stature—feels like bad news to his mother. Mary, who already knows the shadow of a hard and holy life is on her son, struggles to understand. Her anxiety foreshadows the grief that will be not just hers but that of Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ disciples, and countless other followers when he is executed by the Roman empire.

Babies and children remind us of the fragility of life. They point out how much our desire to control is only an illusion. Jesus in the Temple is already teaching his parents what it is like to move throughout the world when God is your very good Father. It is a life not beholden to typical structures of power. It is a life free from the fear of having to control it all.

Teach me, O God, to learn to give back to you what is not mine to control. Be with me in the grief of unknowing, and give me the faith to listen to those who are following your voice. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 2:41-52

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Lectionary Week
December 20–26, 2021
Scripture Overview

The boy Samuel worshiped and served God from a young age. He grows in stature and favor, the same description that will later be applied to the young Jesus in this week’s reading from Luke. The psalmist praises God for raising up a “horn” for the people. This “horn” is referred to elsewhere in the Psalms as being the True King from the line of David, identified later by Luke (1:69) as Jesus. Paul encourages the Colossians to let love rule in their community and to praise God with songs and hymns (such as the Psalms). The additional readings for this special week focus our minds on the Advent of the Lord, the amazing truth that “the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14), as the prophets had prophesied long ago.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Isaiah 9:2-7. Where in your world do you see darkness? What lies within your power to dispel it?
Read Psalm 148. How do you experience God’s creations worshiping and praising God? How do you join in that worship?
Read Colossians 3:12-17. How are you clothing yourself with love during this season?
Read Luke 2:1-20. In what ways do you hold and ponder the story of Christ’s birth in your heart?

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