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Resolutions

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Resolutions Luke 2:41-52 Did anyone come down to breakfast this morning with the announcement, "I'm so hungry. I feel like I haven't eaten for a year!" It's fun to play with all the brand-new possibilities open to you on January 1. Go jogging today, and you have jogged every day this year. Start your diet, and you will be reflecting a whole new healthier year. So far this year, you have never left your dirty socks on the floor, never left the dishes in the sink, never yelled at the kids, and you have never forgotten to read the Bible in the morning! On January 1, we can transform our whole life. Our good intentions can be jumpstarted, and all of our bad habits can be unplugged - at least, for a few hours, or minutes? The year, so far, is a perfect reflection of your best effort. I’m assuming. Then we have January 1 followed by January 2 and 3. The day will come when you opt for staying in bed, rather than plunging into the cold to go for a walk; and by the 7th, you may well leave those socks on the floor; and by the 8th of January, those dishes will have piled up at least a little bit; and by the 10th, you will have rushed out the door some morning before ever getting the Bible open. For all but a few of us, most New Year's resolutions get packed away with the last of the Christmas decorations. By Epiphany, our behavior and the whole New Year may be just as tarnished as they were before January 1. Maybe it is because most of our resolutions are too safe, too reasonable, and too self-centered. We try to make little, cosmetic changes in our lives but refuse to change the structure by which we live, or improve the things that may really need to be changed; the more challenging exercises of behavior. Luke's story of Jesus offers us an example of what it would mean if we were to transform our lives by making the ultimate resolution, the mother of all New Year's resolutions, the resolution that ends all resolutions, to declare that from this day forward, that we will be (pause for effect) "about our Father's business." Mary and Joseph were obedient parents, who kept the law by making the required trek to Jerusalem each year on the festival of the Passover. Jewish tradition recognized the age 12 as the beginning of the end of childhood. Parents would be more indulgent and permissive when a child was young and would place more expectations upon the child as the child would grow, until by 12, binding vows and fasting for full days would be expected. Yet, at 12, Jesus took off, scurried away, got lost from His father and mother, so it seemed, on this day. The scene that we read about here suggests that Joseph and Mary traveled with a caravan of friends, neighbors and relatives. The traditional form would be men traveling first, animals and possessions in the center 2 and women bringing up the rear. Usually the children would be assigned an animal or a bundle to care for, but their movement within the group was much more fluid. So, Mary and Joseph could easily assume Jesus was somewhere in the caravan, until that evening, when they stopped and settled in for the night. Panic stricken to find Him absent, Mary and Joseph went back immediately to find Jesus. By the time they had found Jesus, it had been three whole days and they were near hysteria. Can you imagine the fear they went through, losing their child, and especially this Child whose name is Jesus, the One who saves His people from their sins, this One whose name is Immanuel, God with us, and He’s not with them? Can you hear Mary scream with terror and fear, can you see the furrow on Joseph’s brow? When they did find Him, it was at the temple, and all present were being amazed at Jesus being able to dialogue and banter with the intellectuals. This was not a story of some miraculous wonder of Jesus the Boy-Child to further credentialize Jesus' adult ministry. Luke wanted to establish this time, this event, which Jesus Himself claimed, as His dedication to the service of God and the bringing of the Kingdom of God to earth, as had been promised at His birth and circumcision. But that long-ago event of the exciting time of angels and shepherds and wise men were far from Mary and Joseph's minds as they confront Jesus in the temple. When Jesus was asked by Mary why He would do such a thing as not staying with them, Jesus' response clearly shows that He felt the call to be "about His Father's business." Mary and Joseph apparently do not celebrate this moment of dedication in Jesus' life, and He obediently follows them back to Nazareth and awaits His eventual adulthood. They hit the road, anxious to get back to all the chores and responsibilities that filled their lives. Jesus refuses to let His relationship with God be regulated, though, according to some prearranged, culturally imposed schedule. Instead of going along with the return-to-business-as-usual attitude, He has already answered the most important call of all - to be about His Father's business. What if we were to act in a similar way? What would it mean to live according to what the Lord requires of us? What would it mean to be about our Father's business, rather than to be about everyone else's business or other people's definition of God's business? Jesus discovered, even at this early age, that focusing on God's business could get you in trouble, even with your own family. In fact, answering God's expectations could put a crimp in the family business. Business-as-usual may not be the way God does business, and the world and the church find that unnerving. The church might even question if its business-as-usual is the way God would have us to do His 3 bidding. The ultimate New Year's resolution does not challenge us to cut fat grams or quit smoking or get to aerobics class twice a week. The ultimate resolution a Christian can make is to live in the light of divine intentions, not human inventions, to make it my business and your business to be a part of God's business. But what is God's business? God's business is transformation. An electrical transformer takes high voltage and transforms it into energy that we can use in our everyday lives. Without a transformer, there could be no light in the darkness, no safety in the storm. At Bethlehem, God came to us and gave us Jesus the Christ, who transforms in His life, the love and power of God, into the impulses of grace and salvation that the world, that we, desperately need. So what does the Christian who resolves to be a part of God's transforming work on January 1 do on January 2nd? There are two essential requirements: First, we must go deeply into the Word; and second, we must go widely into the world. Without a first-hand knowledge and experience of the Word of God, we don't know what we are talking about, we have little to say, and so we remain mute. We need to delve deeply into the Word; read it, study it, debate it, internalize it, before we can share it. Then, we need to go into the world, into the jungles of our environment, and off to the outer perimeters of our circle of friends, to touch their lives with the love of God, the grace and saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ calls us into an ultimate resolution today, to be transformed, by the renewing of our minds and hearts, not to the conventions of the world, but in consecration to the world, taking the gospel with you on your journeys of faith, into the homes and work places and circles of friends that you live and move and have your being. Today is January 1. A fresh New Year lies unblemished before us. What do you resolve to be on January 2 and for the rest of your life? Your life, your commitment to be about your Father's business, can help the love of God through Jesus Christ transform the world. (Pray) As we come to receive Holy Communion, I would like for you to bow your heads and close your eyes for a moment and take seriously God's business. Christ wants to be your resolution today. He wants to live in you and work through you. Pray with me and say in your heart today, "O Lord, I want to be about Your business. I want to be transformed today, to make a difference for You and Your church. Please help me keep this resolution. Amen.” If that is your heart's desire, let us pray each day for each other, that we make a difference for God this year, that we may provide the energy for God's grace and salvation to move within our churches and community.
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