Finding God in the Last Place We Look
When his parents saw Jesus [at the temple], they were astonished; and his mother said, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you with great anxiety.” Jesus said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Parent’s house?” – Luke 2:48-49 (NRSV)
It’s bad enough that tweenage Jesus ditches Mary and Joseph without so much as a text message. But when Jesus’ understandably distraught parents find him in the temple days later, Jesus makes his absence their fault while belittling their role: “Didn’t you know I would be in my Parent’s house?”
Why would Luke waste precious parchment and ink on a story in which Jesus appears to break the fifth commandment about dishonoring parents?
Maybe it’s there to comfort countless parents ever since, demonstrating that even young Jesus thought his folks were nitwits. Or maybe it’s a reminder that we sometimes find God in the last place we look: in church!
Of course, God can show up anywhere. But it’s not uncommon for people to arrive to Sunday worship looking for God after all other options have been exhausted. I’ve seen many a visitor in tears within minutes of worshipping at the church I serve—surprised, delighted, relieved to find Holy Love.
Keep watch for that person this Sunday and next Sunday and the one after that—yes, even online. You have a role to play in revealing the presence of God. You can assure someone that love is not lost.
Dear God, who was lost but will be found again and again, may I never stop looking for you.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now.