December 30, 2018
When we read today's gospel story, I think it is natural to wonder, “How could a mother and father leave a child behind?” As I contemplated how this happened, I go back some 20ish years to when we took the boys to Disneyland—yeah, the real one in California. My main memory of our time in the park is counting heads; 1, 2, 3, 4... check, everyone is accounted for. There is zero chance we would have left that park with a child simply missing.
That's not to say we never left a child behind. Also some 20 years ago, on a beautiful Sunday morning we'd all come to church to worship and enjoy the fellowship. When it was time to head back to the farm, we loaded the Suburban and headed out. About the time we got to the John Deere dealership, someone asked, “Hey, where's Stephen?” Sure enough, we'd driven off with him still in the church. When Mary and Joseph found Jesus, he didn't seem to think he'd done anything wrong and blamed them for not realizing where he was. When Julie and Gordy found Stephen, he expressed his displeasure to us as he blamed us as well.
And it was our fault. And it was Mary and Joseph's fault. But it was also Stephen's and Jesus' faults.