Scott Moore, Erfurt, Germany

Warm-up Question

What is the best thing you like about when you come home from being away for a while? 

Discovering Where He Belongs

It’s beginning to look a lot like the Christmas Nick Schneider dreamed about much of his life. He just recently took advantage of new Indiana law which just made possible the release of more than 50 years of adoption records, including Schneider’s. He was one of those fortunate children who was adopted as a baby by two loving parents. They raised him with love and care and provided him all the things that one hopes for in life. Shirley Williams gave Nick up for adoption those many years ago when he was just one day old. She was a 17 year-old, unwed mother. In that time, that was rather scandalous, so she was sent to a place away from her home in order to give birth in secret. 

Schneider found out that he was adopted when he was 12 years old. Reporting to local news sources Schneider said,  “There was always a void. I just needed to know, I wanted to know where I came from. I wanted to know my roots.” In recent years, he started trying to find out about his ancestry through an online DNA test. That led to identifying his grandfather and finding a picture. A television station ran a story on him and when they showed the picture of his grandfather a biological cousin reached out and eventually connected him to his mother.  This has been a been a dream come true in the making. 

Shirley and Nick met last September and, at last report, were planning on celebrating this Christmas together for the first time. 

Discussion Questions

  • How many generations can you trace back in your family?
  • What is your experience with adoption?
  • When have you ever looked hard for something and found it?
  • If someone adopted grows up in a loving home, why do you think they still go looking for their biological parents?

First Sunday of Christmas

1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26

Colossians 3:12-17

Luke 2:41-52

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

Jesus of Nazareth in Galilee, still technically a boy in the eyes of his community but on the brink of being seen as an adult (this was at the age of thirteen), is traveling along with his parents. They are traveling in the security of friends and family and go to Jerusalem for the Passover, one of the most important religious festivals in the Jewish tradition. Jesus has parents who care.

Just last week, we relived the story of this newly betrothed couple away from home with no place to give birth to the one promised by the Archangel Gabriel. Now he is all grown up. Mary and Joseph seem to have done a good job. Jesus is twelve years old, healthy, and…lost! They lose Jesus in Jerusalem, a city full of thousands of people from all over the region. How worried must they have been? Apparently, these loving, adoptive parents didn’t need to be worried at all as they come to find him in the temple.

Jesus found his way home to his first parent. “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” This statement is surprising and not surprising at the same time. If we have been following Jesus’ story closely, we know who he is and we know that Mary and Joseph know who he is. Maybe they forgot over the past twelve years. Maybe they knew Jesus was special but didn’t know if he knew. Whatever the case may be, Jesus knows who he is. Jesus lays claim to his divine heritage. Jesus seeks a home-coming of biblical proportions. He amazes the learned leaders gathered discussing God and God’s word. Jesus yearns to be in his Father’s house and comes into his own. It is three days after they notice him missing that they find Jesus.

How long was Jesus there in his Father’s house? Certainly long enough to be passionately engaged in study of scripture and theological discussion. We don’t know any of the other details of this experience like where Jesus stayed, how he got by, etc. All we know is that Jesus is doing just fine and Mary chastises him for “treating us like this” and “causing us great anxiety”. They didn’t notice he was missing but when they did, they were scared. They love their son, and like so many parents when their child goes missing, they were terrified something might have happened to him. Here the Gospel of Luke helps us see Jesus with new eyes. He is not just the baby in the manger or the lost twelve-year old. Jesus is not lost in Jerusalem but he lost in God’s word. No worries, Mary and Joseph. Jesus is right where he is supposed to be. 

Jesus, however, still has family responsibilities to his earthly parents. He is a good son to them despite giving them a scare. Jesus goes home with Mary and Joseph, even if it is very clear now how strong his connection is to his first Father. This divine child is a loving son to both parents, those on earth and the one in heaven. The next time we see Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, he is all grown up “in wisdom in earthly years” and ready to begin his ministry of preaching and being the good news. 

Discussion Questions

  • When have you ever had the feeling of knowing you belonged somewhere or not belonged somewhere?
  • Where would you like to be right now?
  • When have you felt like you were old enough but others still treated you as a child?
  • What are you passionate about? What kind of activities could you “get lost” in?
  • Which bible stories or topics of the faith could you “get lost” in?

Activity Suggestion

A faith family tree: Have the participants trace all those in their family and their connection to the faith. They can draw this as a family tree or as a chart. Help the participants identify patterns in their faith family tree. 

Closing Prayer

O God our loving parent, we thank you for giving us the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, and curiosity. Give us a spirit of passion for you and your word. Open our minds and our hearts to engage in conversations about our faith with our family, friends, and others who are interested. May we be examples of your love and may the world see us as your children. We ask this in the name of your Son, our friend and heavenly brother, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen