How to Raise a Teenager l Luke 2:39-52 l Chapel Hill Church Gig Harbor
Welcome to 2023! I want to start by bragging on you. Whatever happened last night, your first act of 2023 is worship! Well done! And you are savvy because you remembered the 10:00 start time. (Of course, I’m sure that you who’ve been sitting here for an hour came early for prayer, right?) And… for those who sneak in at 10:30… who are either late (as usual) or forgot…I think you should smirk at them and point as they take their seats. (Just kidding. But you will smile smugly…I know it!)
And, welcome to one of our special traditions: our renewal of baptismal vows. This isn’t “rebaptism.” We Presbyterians don’t do that. But this is an opportunity to remember our baptism, thank God for his faithfulness and renew our commitment to him.
For our text this morning, we turn to a unique passage of scripture. Today’s account from Luke is the only story we have of Jesus in childhood. Aside from the Christmas narratives, this is our one glimpse into Jesus and his family life before he begins his adult ministry. So…this is special. It is an opportunity to learn from Joseph and Mary how to raise a teenager that loves and serves God. Given our commitment to mobilizing the next generation, this ought to make all of us sit up and take notice. So…here we go: “How to raise a teenager”…by Joseph, Mary…and God.
“And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 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?” And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:39-52)
The last time we had a baptism Sunday was very discouraging for me. When I showed up, Pastor Ellis pointed out I was wearing the old Chapel Hill baptism T-shirt. He told me where the new Chapel Hill baptism T-shirts were. Obviously, I want to be hip! Cool! Groovy. Boss. With it! So, I found the box of shirts, pulled out a large, put it on…and felt like an over-stuffed sausage. I looked like the Michelin Man. Roll after roll after roll. I knew I’d gained some weight…but this was disgusting. Until one of our team members said, “Uh, yeah…that’s a kid’s large. You might want to try on an adult large!” Whew…what a relief!
In this morning’s story, we find a 12-year-old Jesus trying to grow up…trying to become a man who loves and serves his Heavenly Father. But his parents…his mom especially…are trying to keep him stuffed in his baby clothes.
We need this story. Today’s church is not doing a good job of helping our children grow into adult believers. 66% of church kids…who’ve accepted Jesus…gone to Sunday School and youth group…when they walk out our doors and into the embrace of universities that want to shame Christianity right out of them…66% of them abandon the faith. And abandon the church. This is why we are launching our Family Discipleship Academy; to train not only our young people, but their parents and their grandparents and their surrogate grandparents…to disciple our kids. We must do better! And this morning’s story gives us some tips. Joseph and Mary teach us things to do…and not to do…as we raise teenagers with a resilient, victorious faith.
Now, you might protest, “Wait a second! This isn’t fair! This isn’t any ordinary teenager. This is the Son of God. The only perfect human. I love my kids, but they aren’t perfect. So what difference does it make how Mary and Joseph raised Jesus? What relevance does that have for me with my kids or grandkids?”