Monday, January 25, 2010

“Learning the Trade” (Luke 2:48-49).

S-1160 01/03/09 2SAC/3C (O) #98; (S) #133; (C) #625

Texts: 1 Kings 3:4-15; Ephesians 1:3-14; Luke 2:40-52

Theme: “Learning the Trade” (Luke 2:48-49).

Question: “Are You Learning the Father’s Business?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Second Sunday after CHRIStmas is from the Gospel Lesson: “And when His parents saw Him, they were astonished. And His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You treated us so? Behold, Your father and I have been searching for You in great distress.’ And He said to them, ‘Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?’” (Luke 2:48-49).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved, I remember my childhood. I remember the first time I went to work with my dad. You see growing up all I wanted to do is be a good house painter like my father. Then it happened. Dad told mom, “I believe Nabil is old enough he could come and learn the trade.” So at age 12/13 I began to go with my father in the summer to work. First, I learned that the wood needs to be sanded very smooth and ALWAYS with the grain. I learned how to make paint, mix the colors, and prepare the walls. I learned to walk on a ladder. I loved being in the presence of my father. I Cherished the moments we would sit down and have coffee, tea, or lunch together. Those were beautiful memories that I still cherish even now. And now that I am a father, I wish that my children would follow in my footsteps and learn the trade (not that it is) of being under shepherds of God’s flock.

Since I have been living among you, I have seen many family operations of father and son. Many of the fathers rejoice that their sons learn the trade—farming, carpentry, electrician and the like. I even remember a long time ago, while having coffee with my wife at the Co-Op, we saw a father and son come in. The father and son were dressed alike, the boy proudly walked behind his father imitating his every move. But what really struck me most is that little boy had on his belt a pliers’ holder, just like his father.

It is such a joy when a son learns the family business. There are families that advertise “Father and Son operation.” The father is so proud that his son[s] are taking over the business that he spent a lifetime building.

In today’s text, St. Luke tells us of another father and son business. Listen once more to Luke as He tells us of this family business: “And when His parents saw Him, they were astonished. And His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You treated us so? Behold, Your father and I have been searching for You in great distress.’ And He said to them, ‘Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?’”

At the age of 12, as the holy family made their journey home Jesus stayed behind. His parents didn’t know about it. When they looked for Him they didn’t find Him among their relatives and neighbors so they headed back to Jerusalem looking for Him. And when they found Him, He told them, ‘why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?’” Now the word “house” is supplied by context. We could also supply “business.” Jesus had to be about His Father’s very essence - to love sinners and bring us from the death of sin into this same “Father’s House.” This is the “Father’s Business.” This is the business of the Holy Spirit and the Son - to bring us Home with Him.

St. Paul tells us of the Father’s business in 1 Timothy: “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3-4). The Business of the Father ever since that fatefully day when the serpent deceived our parents in the Garden of Eden has been about seeking and saving the lost. The Business of the Father and the Son is about salvation of mankind.

When Jesus addressed His parents with these words, He wasn’t condescending to them or dishonoring them, instead He said, “You should have known that I would be in My Father’s House carrying out His Business.” Jesus’ mission was learning the trade.

Certainly, as Jesus grew up in Joseph’s shop He learned the trade of carpentry. Jesus learned about butterfly patches, dove-tail joints, and proper measuring. He learned how to dry the wood, mix glue to strengthen a joint and how to mix finishes to preserve the wood – and all that went with the trade of being a carpenter. But today we find Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem being about the Father’s Business—the business of restoring the broken relationships, the business of healing the sick and helping the needy, the business of dispersing His forgiveness of sin, the business of opening the eyes of the blind that they might see; and the business of bringing to life those dead so that they may live in His House forever.

We should not be surprised at what Luke tells us in our Gospel reading today, that Jesus was in the Temple doing the Father’s Business. Why not? Because Jesus’ whole life has been about Father’s Business and fulfilling the Law of the Father perfectly in our stead. We meet Jesus in the Temple first at age 8 when He was circumcised and given the name the angel told His parents about. We meet Him again at 40 days old as His parents brought Him to fulfill the purification Law. We meet Him today at age 12. We meet Him as the Tempter asked Him to jump off the pinnacle of the Temple. We meet Him throwing out all of those who abused His Father’s Temple. PAUSE.

Learning the Trade was the mission of the Savior. Already, before the foundation of the world, God the Father gave this command to His Son, “Son, I need You to Build a Bridge; here are all the tools you will need. See you soon—Love, Dad” (as I say this sentence I am carrying in my hand a picture of this and in the picture along with the words are a sledge hammer and three nails).

Indeed, people of God, beloved and chosen—Jesus was about learning the trade of the Father. And that trade was building a bridge between the big chasm of heaven and earth and the bridge would be built by the tools of the trade that Jesus had in His carpentry shop—wood, hammer and nails. It is a very expensive bridge indeed—the most expensive in the world. It is NOT the kind of bridge that leads to nowhere. But rather a bridge that leads us home—to the Father’s House—that bridge is the Cross of Calvary.

Jesus, the Son of the Father came to do the will of the Father completely. He came to learn the trade well. The trade of building a place where we can be in the Father’s House forever as we are reminded of in the Gospel of John: “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go, I will come back to take you to be with Me forever.” (John 14:3).

Dear Christian friends, you and I are adopted Children of the heavenly Father. Are we then, like our big brother Jesus learning the trade of the family Business? Are we about fulfilling the Law of God in our lives and in our deeds? Are we about seeking the lost and the erring? I pray that we are. By God’s grace the Father has sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts to remind us of the privilege that He lays before us yet again in 2010—going out in His Name, doing His will and sharing the Words of hope with all people.

But, I am afraid that NOT many of us take this family Business to heart. We say, “We have a professional man, we pay him to do this work; let him do it”. We say, “We are not equipped to do this kind of work, or don’t know what to do, or I am afraid I might fail to do it right.” So we don’t. PAUSE.

Today, beloved and chosen by God, know for certain even though you and I may fail in fulfilling the Law of God, though we neglect the business of the Father, Jesus never has. He has and always been faithful in doing the Father’s will. We find Him today in the Temple building the TEMPLE. And this building is done by blood, sweat, wood and nails. The Temple is built by the Jewish Carpenter—my boss—who equips us to go in His name and share His love and the Good News with all people.

I learned the trade of painting from my father, and when I came to this country I was able to make a living and provide for my family. The Babe of Bethlehem learned the trade of the Father not to make a living, or to live in comfort; but to bring about salvation. Surely He has saved You… you are Baptized... in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.... that is, you live with forgiveness for your sins, fully and freely given through this self-same Babe. Yes, Jesus was about His Father’s business then and still is about the Father’s business even today—calling us to repentance, and forgiveness of sins. He was in His Father’s House – and He was in our flesh – this is His Father’s business, and we are approved, He has taken pleasure in you, He has adorned you with His Salvation and all we can say is “AMEN!!!”

Now the peace…


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