Jesus in the Temple
The Gospel reading from John is often called Jesus in the temple, and indeed there are many fine artworks with the same name depicting a young boy surrounded by astonished elders listening to the wisdom of the child. This is oftentimes seen as a miracle, but anyone who had spent any alone, quiet time with a child might not think it quite so miraculous. My godchild Nate comes out with some incredible foresights. I stagger back at his insight. He reveals things he could not possibly know or could not have learned. Insights that are beyond his years but wrapped up in childlike innocence.
I have always been a low churchman. I have always enjoyed interpreting the Bible relying on as few miracles as possible. But that is not always possible. When I was Chair of the Commission on Ministry I would often ask the postulants that passed through, “Who is God?” I got a surprising number of answers, some very fundamental, some almost textbook, i.e.: “God is the distillation of all good.” But one day I got the answer, “God is what you need him to be on any given day.” She went on, “Sometimes you need Santa in the clouds, like he was when you were a child, sometimes you need a more sophisticated approach…God is always there to meet your needs.” I was on the Commission for seven years and seriously studying religion for 45 years; that was the best answer I have ever gotten. I’ve thought about that answer for about eight years and I can’t find any fault with it. Sometimes I need to speak to that miracle child teacher instructing the elders in the temple, and sometimes I need to know that he is just an ordinary child like my godson, born to loving parents, whose flashes of genius are those that nature gives to its children. But whichever one I need to speak to, he will be there, because he is God.