Sunday 21st July, 2019
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain
Bible Reading: Luke 2:41-52
Who here does the same job as their parents … or thinks that when they start working they might do the same job as your parents … sort of be “following in their father’s footsteps” so to speak. Anyone? Do you know what my dad is? Yep, he is a minister … but you gotta believe me, him being a minister is not the reason I became one as well. But yes, I am in my Father’s business.
Did you all listen to the bible reading tonight? Let me read it again, but this time to see how well you are listening I am going to read from the Old King James Version.
41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem;
Tarried? Does anyone know what tarried means? Stayed… lingered… whatever.
and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
Did you get that. Mary and Joseph lost Jesus, they left their child at church. I actually have done that once. Marion and I had driven off from church … I thought that Matthew was with Marion and she thought Matthew was with me … but Matthew was back at the church crying. Richard Archer rings me up saying, “I think you forgot something”
That wasn’t very nice, but that’s nothing compared to Mary and Joseph. We temporarily lost Matthew … Mary and Joseph lost God. For three days, they could not find God. I know what I would be doing if I was them. Praying. “Dear God, where are you?” Three days they had lost him. How hard could it be to find him? Where would a normal 12 year old hang out? Westfield? At his friends place playing a pre-technology X-box?
Where did they find him? In the house of God, talking with the teachers and Pharisees, asking questions, amazing them with his understanding. His parents come up to him and say, and I quote once again from the King James Bible, “What they helleth do you thinketh your doingeth”
Oh, sorry, that wasn’t quite right but you get the idea. His parents have no idea why he would be in the temple. That is not the normal place for a 12 year old boy to be. But Jesus replies to them, once again from the KJV, “How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” Or in plain English, “Why did it take you three days to find me, it is obvious that I would be here doing my Father’s business.”
The whole reason I read this story in the King James is because I love that phrase, “my Father’s business”. Jesus was doing his father’s business. I think that there is something in this phrase that can really speak to us tonight about this idea of mission that we have been exploring.
I am going to approach it from two different angle … not that this is the only two ways to understand this passage … but two approaches that I think are helpful for us at Night Church.
#1 – We should let the father mind his own business…
Maybe a scenario here might explain this better…
- Let’s assume that say when my daughter Bec was in New York a few weeks ago that she was offered a job at the Rockettes! The only catch is that she needed to find someone to do her job here.
- So I offer to step up and start doing Bec’s job at Fusion Grove. How would I go about it.
- I think that Fusion Grove sounds like a fancy food restaurant so maybe I will try my hand at cooking
- I sort of know that Bec has to do reports … well I have been doing some reports lately here at the church … maybe I can just reuse some of them
- Bec is in marketing. So maybe I should … I don’t know … get on my insta and post some stuff
- Maybe I can go to the other business in the building and try to sell their … software or whatever Fusion Grove sells.
- How do you think I am doing?
The point is … that would be a terrible approach to filling in for Bec. The first thing I should do is … I don’t know … have a conversation with Bec about what is required.
It sounds crazy, but there are a lot of people who approach the Missio Dei – God’s mission – the same way. They know that they should be doing “the father’s business” and then the rush into it as if it was their business. They see a need and launch feet first into it without checking if that is what the Father actually had in mind. I have seen people running around reinventing the wheel when it comes to mission and it’s almost like God is standing there saying, “When you are finished, I can explain what would be more helpful”
Rick Warren, the bloke who wrote the 40 days of purpose, actually came up with a great analogy. He said it is like a surfer deciding that he wanted to go and catch some waves and he sits down and starts working out how to make beach and how to create a machine that will make waves.
It just doesn’t make sense. The beach and waves are already there, he just has to go and join in.
He said that as Christians we need to remember that we do not have to create mission opportunities … God is already doing that. We just have to see where the waves of mission are and join in. Is this making sense? Simon didn’t create the opportunities for mission in Cambodia … God was already at work there. In our bible reading I don’t think that Jesus went in there and started the discussion … I think that the people in the temple were already asking questions, reflecting on the scriptures, wrestling with interpretations … God was already at work in their lives and Jesus just came along and joined in. He wanted to be part of his father’s business.
I have included a cartoon in the bulletin that I love. Sometimes we think that God is at work only in the church but the reality is that God is already and work right across the world. God is already at mission … it is the father’s business. But God needs people to help. Yes – it is the father’s business but just like a good Italian fruit shop, he needs his kids to help out. God wants his children to be part of the family business.
Actually it reminds me of a statue in Germany that lost its hands during a bombing raid in World War 2. Some very cleaver person placed a sign infront of the statue that read … “CHRIST HAS NO HANDS BUT YOUR HANDS. It is true … it may be the father’s business but God is counting on you to help.
That might sound overwhelming but remember … we don’t have to create the business … we just have to find the waves of mission and join in? Is that mission possible?
Actually that segues really nicely into the second point.
#2 – Age or experience is not barrier in the father’s business
This story of Jesus in the temple is so familiar that sometimes we miss the most profound aspect. How old was Jesus when he started participating in his father’s business? 12! Jesus as a 12 year old is sitting in temple talking theology with the priests.
What excites me the most is that Jesus was implying that it was normal for him to be there – that it is normal for any 12 year old to be in church, listening to the teachers, asking the questions and amazing the preachers with their insight. It is normal for a 12 year old to be about the father’s business.
Besides his birth, Jesus age is only mentioned three times in the bible. Once when he was 12 in the temple, when he was 30 and he was baptised and started ministry and when he was 33 when he was killed and rose again and now lives forever.
And in the church we seem to focus on people and say that you will be most useful for God when you are 30 or older.
That is when you are mature, that is when you have grown up (except in my case), but in the church we think that because Jesus was 30 when he started ministry, we need to wait until people hit 30 before we can trust them to do anything for God.
But that is wrong. Yes, Jesus did go up a gear at the age of 30, but he didn’t start when he was 30, he started when he was 12.
In the church we have fallen into a trap in thinking that 12, 14, 16, 18 years old are not ready for serious commitment to Jesus. We listen to physiologists who tell us that 12 year olds should not be burdened them with expectations because they can’t do it. They are too young to be passionately committed to something. They are too young to make a real difference.
But Jesus is saying that this is not the case. Jesus is showing that a 12 or 14 or 18 year old can be just as much used by God to do amazing things as a 30 year old. Sport, Science, Technology, the Arts. They all are understanding this point. They all take people when they are young and begin to develop their gifts and skills. They don’t wait until they are older … they understand that they are ready to be a part of it now.
Lydia Ko is a rising star in womens golf. This NZ won her first professional at the age of 14. People didn’t say to her … come back when your 21 and we will treat you seriously. They are treating her seriously from the start and she ended up with the number 1 rating when she was 17.
This is Catherine Cook. When she was 15 and her brother was
16, they had an idea of an online school yearbook called myyearbook.com. A company which 4 years later was worth $20 million. Whilst being smart … she is not a computer nerd like the Facebook guy. She just was passionate about what she was doing.
God is the same. God wants you to understand that you don’t have to wait until your Glenn’s age to get serious about him. you can get passionate about doing the father’s business now, so that together you can do amazing things now and even more awesome things in the future. You need to get about the Father’s business now.
Can I speak to the young people for a moment? Sorry Glenn.
For those under the age of 20 … I see the potential in all of you and I want to help you get committed to Jesus, committed to the Father’s business, committed to using your gifts now, so that you can make a big difference now and an enormous difference the more your gifts are developed. We need to get about the Father’s business now.
This is not a new idea. God has a habit of calling young people. Samuel was a prophet when he was still a boy. God called Josiah to change his nation when he was 8, by 20 he had completed his task. Daniel was a teenager when God made him great in a foreign land. When God called Jeremiah when he was a teenager, and when he said, “No I’m too young” and God replied … “Don’t ever say you are too young! I have called you to speak for me, so go and do it.” God uses young people.
God called me when I was 16. In year 11 at high school, I started with another 16 year old, a Christian group in the school. We had over 70 people attend our first meeting. Over the next two year we saw about 20 people come to faith through that group and touched many more people’s lives. Was I super special. No … God was already working in the school … I just joined in. I was a church council member at 16, I preached my first sermon when I was 17, I was the key organiser for a camp for over 300 young people when I was 19. Was I super special? No, the only thing that made me special is that I was passionate about participating in the father’s business. Are you willing to let God use you?
Actually that is a question for all of us at all ages … Do you want to be part of something extraordinary, something much bigger than yourself. Are you ready to commit to doing the Father business? If God has been speaking to you tonight, don’t just let it slip.
This is my mobile number … and here is a challenge.
If you want to be committed to the Father’s business, then I want you to text your name to me … but don’t do it unless you are committed. If you are committed then text your name to me and also write, “I want to be about the Father’s Business”. If you do, we will start praying for you … I mean seriously praying for you. And I will also personally start looking for opportunities for you to grow, be trained and to get started now in the Father’s business. If you want that, then respond.
The next few months at TUC are going to be significant.
This is an exciting time at Night Church … isn’t it.