A Question for the New Year

Lara Schopp Articles, Catherine Stark-Corn

Rev. Catherine Stark-Corn, Interim Minister to Children and Families

The Christ child is born – the new year is here and this is the week I begin to feel a bit deflated after all the build-up through Advent and anticipation of Christmas. It’s not that the Advent and Christmas seasons disappointed. It was all wonderful, from majestic music in worship to memorable moments with family, so many special experiences in these past weeks. But I am a bit perplexed after spending time preparing to celebrate the birth of the Christ child. All the many hopes tied to this annual remembrance and recognition. And honestly it is so easy to leave it at that miraculous birth. God breaking into the world in a spectacularly ordinary way. Yet I can’t help wondering – now what?

So often in the church calendar we move from the birth into Christ’s adult ministry within a short time. It is not as though we are skipping much in the Bible. There truly is very little about him as a child or teen in the Bible. One of the few stories we know of Jesus before his adult years is the story of him as a pre-teen. This is the familiar one of Jesus and his family going to Jerusalem for Passover when he is 12 and taking a bit of a detour.

This story is layered. It is not simply a tale of Jesus as an adolescent giving his parents a hard time as he is not where he is supposed to be, but it sets up a pattern of Jesus reordering norms and expectations. He was expected to travel home with his parents who, when they realize he is not with them, begin searching and of all the places they assume he might be, they find him in the temple. They question him and Jesus pushes back on his parents, “Why were you searching for me?” Can you hear the tinge of irritation in his voice? His parents are said to have been looking for him for three days and when they find and confront him; he rebukes them. And it is in this rebuke that we may find connections to ourselves.

David Keck, in an article in the Christian Century (November 2018) comments, “When Christians and churches get comfortable with Jesus—when like his parents we presume to know where he should be and what he should be doing—Jesus rebukes us with what should have been obvious. Jesus turns, looks us in the eye, and asks us one more time, What, exactly, are you looking for?”

For me this is the question that moves me beyond the birth of Jesus and into the life of Christ.