Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the
festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search 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. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.
Meditation for Sunday January 3, by Christine McSpadden
As you enter St. Martin-in-the-Fields parish church across from Trafalgar Square in London, you confront a remarkable sculpture by Mike Chapman. I have seen it many times, and it still takes my breath away and brings me to tears. Under the portico, outside the west doors, presides a large, four-and-a-half ton block of light grey Portland stone. The opening line from the Gospel of John is inscribed in the stone and wraps around the plinth of the block: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word became flesh and lived among us.” On the top of the block, hewn out of the rough surface, a life-sized baby emerges from the stone—an infant utterly vulnerable in his nakedness, chubby arms spread apart ending in tiny, clenched fists, plump legs kicking open. The stone breathes and pulses with this fragile babe, his umbilical cord still tethered to the rock.
I cannot help but think of my own newborn son, minutes after his birth, pulled from my womb and thrust into this world, fragile yet fiercely alive! I am amazed again and anew that God deigned to take human flesh, so that the Almighty might share the divine self so intimately with us. It utterly stuns me that the Creator God who fashioned all that is seen and unseen, the Cosmic God whose existence knows no bounds, the Infinite God beyond all time and space, the eternal God who is, who was, and who shall be from everlasting to everlasting, the Omnipotent God all powerful, the Omniscient God to whom nothing is not known, and the Loving God in whom everything brings delight, meets us at our most vulnerable in this most vulnerable form of human being.
The Rev. Christine McSpadden, a graduate of the University of Virginia and Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, has served in congregations from New York City to San Francisco. She currently lives in London where she is a member of the clergy team at St. Paul’s Cathedral. She has written several times for Forward Movement, including as an author of meditations for Forward Day by Day. She and her husband have two children.
Soul Proclamations: Singing the Magnificat with Mary is a new collection of daily meditations for the Advent season. Authors include broadcast journalist Ray Suarez; Christopher Wells, editor of The Living Church; Kate Moorehead, dean of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral; Thomas E. Breidenthal, bishop of the Diocese of Southern Ohio; and Christine McSpadden of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
The book invites you to share Mary’s journey through the Advent and Christmas seasons. To walk with Mary each day this Advent, order a copy of the full volume of Soul Proclamations ($5).