“At Home in God’s House, Growing in Wisdom” (Luke 2:40-52)

Second Sunday after Christmas
January 3, 2021

“At Home in God’s House, Growing in Wisdom” (Luke 2:40-52)

We just sang: “Within the Father’s house the Son has found his home.” Even at twelve years old, Jesus was at home in God’s house. And earlier in this service, we sang: “For He is our childhood’s pattern, day by day like us He grew.” Jesus is our childhood’s pattern, but he is also our adulthood’s pattern, as well!

Listen to these verses from today’s Gospel. At the start of the reading, Luke 2, verse 40: Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.” And at the end of our reading, verse 52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” And in between, when Joseph and Mary find him in the temple, Jesus says: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Taking all these thoughts together, we can see that a) Jesus was at home in God’s house, and b) he grew, not only in stature, but also in wisdom. And since Jesus is our pattern, both for our childhood and our adulthood, here is my wish for you for 2021: that you would likewise be “At Home in God’s House, Growing in Wisdom.”

First, being at home in God’s house. Jesus was certainly at home there. It says that his parents took him to the feasts in Jerusalem every year. “They went up according to custom,” it says. And that is a great custom to have. You parents, both fathers and mothers together, take your children to church every Sunday, every year. This year, in 2021. If it hasn’t been your habit or custom before, make it so now. Many parents take their children to soccer practices and music lessons, and that’s OK. But if you don’t take your children to church, you are neglecting your most important parental duty.

As a child, Jesus was at home in God’s house, and that’s how it should be for our children too. But not only is Jesus the pattern for our childhood, he is the pattern for our adulthood also. A couple of chapters later in Luke, it says of Jesus as an adult: “And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day.” There’s that word “custom” again. It should be our custom, our habit, our regular routine, to be in God’s house every week on the day set aside to hear God’s word.

That’s what we learned in the Third Commandment, isn’t it? “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.” “Hold it sacred”: That means “Set it apart,” “Don’t let anything else interfere with it.” Going to church every Sunday morning, to hear the preaching of God’s word–that is sacred time, set apart as holy.

Now of course, I’m not talking about when there’s an ice storm and church is canceled, or if you’re sick or in the hospital, or things like that. But if there’s nothing to stop you from going to church, you should go, every Sunday morning, every week, every year, for the rest of your life. This is where God wants you to be: at home in his house.

God has commanded you to attend to the preaching of his word. In the Large Catechism, Martin Luther writes about how seriously God takes this. He says: “God insists upon a strict observance of this commandment and will punish all who despise His Word and are not willing to hear and learn it, especially, at the time appointed for the purpose.”

“Well, good,” you say. “I’m safe, because I’m here in church every Sunday. I’m not like those lousy, lazy slugs who skip out on church.” Oh, but wait! That’s not the only way you can break this commandment.

And so Luther continues: “It is not only the people who greatly misuse and desecrate the holy day who sin against this commandment (those who neglect to hear God’s Word because of their greed or frivolity or lie in taverns and are dead drunk like swine). But even that other crowd sins. They listen to God’s Word like it was any other trifle and only come to preaching because of custom. They go away again, and at the end of the year they know as little of God’s Word as at the beginning. . . . We allow ourselves to be preached to and admonished, but we do not listen seriously and carefully.”

“Know, therefore, that you must be concerned not only about hearing, but also about learning and retaining God’s Word in memory. Do not think that this is optional for you or of no great importance. Think that it is God’s commandment, who will require an account from you about how you have heard, learned, and honored His Word.”

So, my fellow sinners, there is not anyone here who has not broken this commandment–including your pastor. It’s not just the folks who blow off church. It’s also us who are here, in church, every Sunday. We let God’s word go in one ear and out the other. We do not let his word have its way with us in our heart and in our lives.

But friends, this is all the more reason why we need to be here in church every Sunday. “For we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment.” But here in church–this is where we receive forgiveness for our sins. This is where we hear the word of Holy Absolution: “In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins.” Here in church, at this altar, this is where you receive Christ’s holy body and blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.

Here in church, this is where we hear the preaching of the gospel, the good news of what Christ has done to win your salvation. Jesus fulfilled the law on your behalf. He kept all of the commandments the way they’re supposed to be kept. His active obedience to God’s law fulfilled the requirements. And his righteousness has been given to you as a gift. It has been credited to your account.

Not only so, Jesus took the punishment that you deserve, dying on the cross for your sins. For your neglect of God’s word. For the times you have blown off church when you could have made it. For your inattentiveness even while sitting in the pew. Jesus paid for it all. And then he rose from the dead, assuring you that what he has done is more than enough to overcome sin and the death that comes with it.

You see, Jesus is not only the pattern for our life. Oh, he is that. Jesus is the model, the example, we should follow, yes. But even more than that, Jesus is the Savior of our life. He steps in where we fall short. His righteousness covers us all. Receive it as a gift. Receive him as your Lord and Savior.

This is why it is such a joy to be here, to be at home in God’s house. For we are God’s children! We’ve been made so in Holy Baptism. This is our true home. This is where we belong. This is where we find our true life and our very identity.

Do you want to know the meaning of life? Come to church and hear God’s word, and you will grow in your understanding. You will increase in wisdom.

Wisdom is more than mere knowledge. Wisdom is not just knowing a lot of things. It’s knowing what to do with the things you know. It’s knowing how it all fits together, under God’s design. To meditate on God’s word, to let it sink in deep–this is how you grow in wisdom. To let God’s word shape your life–this is true wisdom. As the psalmist says to the Lord: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.”

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Realize that you are a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness–that’s a good place to start. And then turn to where you will find that forgiveness: in the cross of Christ. For the word of the cross, the preaching of Christ crucified–this is the power of God to save those who believe. “Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

Brothers and sisters, this is why it is so important and so wonderful to be here in God’s house. What a joy! What a Savior!

And so my prayer for you in this new year of 2021 is that you would more and more be at home here in God’s house. Soaking up God’s word, in the sermons and in the Bible classes. Being a part of this community, this family, called the church, where we have a mission together. Singing out in praise and worship of our gracious God. Receiving the refreshing cleansing of Christ’s forgiveness–a clean slate and the ability to move forward. Being strengthened through Word and Sacrament in faith toward God and in fervent love toward one another. These are just some of the benefits that God has for you here in his house.

These are tough times for the church. These are tough times for us all. But that’s all the more reason why we need the strength and the support and the refreshment that we find here in church. At home in God’s house, growing in wisdom: This is how, by God’s grace, we together will have a happy new year!

Published in: on January 2, 2021 at 11:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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