I think Mary got gypped. I mean she bore the Christ child. In a freaking stable. And I’m betting that the world’s only perfect man wasn’t the perfect toddler. Being without sin, doesn’t necessarily mean that he slept through the night or never went through the terrible twos. The bible never mentions how she rocked him to sleep, or kissed his scraped knees, read him Goodnight Moon until she had it memorized, made his favorite dinner, or got up with him a billion times a night when he had an ear infection. As a matter of fact the only thing the bible mentions of her parenting (Or anything at all of Jesus’s life from age 1-33) is the not-so-flattering story in Luke where she literally leaves him in another town.
"Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
Luke 2: 41-49 NIV
In other words. They lost him. Jesus. Their son, oh, and also the Christ. And not just for a few minutes. But for THREE days. This is not the most flattering portrayal of a mom who has her stuff together. To add insult to injury, the very first words that show up in red in the bible are a 12 year old son, stating the obvious to his mom. Who was probably frantic and angry and so happy to find him safe and sound, so she could ground him for the next 12 years. And Jesus doesn’t hang his head sheepishly like he just got caught. Or apologize for forgetting to mention his layover. Instead he acts like it was soooo obvious. Because of course, preteens even 2000+ years ago, knew way more than their moms.
“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Luke 2: 49
And I read that, and immediately feel better about my parenting skills. I mean sure I lost my son once in a sporting good store even before he could walk. But it only took me a few minutes to notice and begin searching frantically under all the racks before I finally found him 100 yards away hiding under some clearance ski gear. And another time, the hubs and I split up at the grocery store to knock out our list faster. I find him ten or so minutes later with my hands overflowing with cereal and juiceboxes and asked him where the cart was before I dropped everything in the middle of aisle 7. He looked back at me frantically, saying, “I thought you had the cart”. We both took off running and eventually found the empty cart in the produce section with our sweet 5 month old little girl happily gnawing on the handle. Neither of those are going to win me “mom of the year”. But I’ve never lost my kids for more than say 15 minutes. Much less three days in a completely different town. At least not yet. And this wasn’t just any 12 year old. This was the Christ. And they lost him. They lost Jesus.
But I do it too all the time. Maybe not leave my kids in a different city and not notice for a few days. But I’m just as guilty of losing Jesus. Of leaving him behind. Of moving on without him. Of not even noticing that he is gone. For days. Weeks. Sometimes longer.
And then you have to do exactly what his mom did.
Start looking. Backtrack. Maybe even go back to the last place you saw him. Maybe he didn’t go anywhere. You did.
This Lenten season I have had a hard time feeling it. I haven’t given anything up. I haven’t written a single thing about Lent. I haven’t gotten up early every morning. Some Sundays I didn’t even go to church. And when my son asked me if the Easter bunny was real. I told him the truth. They will not be waking up to Easter baskets and there are not nice new outfits to slip into. Easter is my absolute favorite holiday. But this year I’m having a hard time with the commercialization part. Don’t worry, we still dyed eggs and hunted them more than once (tonight in the dark with flashlights which is the best way to do it). But I wondered why we celebrate probably the most significant day of our religion with plastic eggs and chocolate bunnies. And I worry that my kids might be missing the point. And that maybe I have lost some of it as well.
But I’m starting to think that stuffing plastic eggs with change and candy and hiding them in the dark is teaching them more than I think. Or at least teaching me something.
Because maybe part of Easter is about the finding.
Finding what was lost.
Finding what was hidden.
Whatwas there all along.