Monday, December 17, 2012

Christ's childhood

yesterday, i gave my first talk since moving to a new ward.   i thought i was safe for a while more since we moved to germany and my german really stinks!   not so!   i was told that i was welcome to ask someone to translate for me.   that was an odd experience in itself.   i gave my talk one sentence at at time and then waited after each sentence for my friend to translate it.   there were a few words she wasn't sure what to use but the people sitting on the stand behind us helped.  anyway, i had help from friends but the thing that really inspired me was this friend magazine article from 1979.

When I think of Christ and His life, I often find myself thinking about His childhood. We don't know a lot about His childhood but it is a special part of His story to me. It was His time to learn and prepare. Just as our lives are our time to learn and prepare. We are still children compared to Him. And we are His children.

In Luke 2:40 and 52 it says “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. ” , “and Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”. I would like to break this down and talk about each part.

And the child grew” also from verse 52 “and Jesus increased in stature”– as every one of us is born into mortal life, Jesus was born to a mortal mother. He had birthdays, learned to walk and talk and play. He ran and played and did chores. He learned from his parents and the world around him. Being the son of a carpenter, he learned hard work. He also learned of splinters and motes and beams. He learned that you must be able to do something yourself before you can teach it to someone else. He used these boyhood lessons from Joseph’s workshop to teach the masses later in life.

He “waxed strong in spirit” – Jesus was taught to pray and learned the scripture stories. He also learned lessons of the spirit from the everyday things around him. I'm sure Jesus learned from watching his mother take care of the family and the house. He learned the importance of leavening in the bread she made for their family to eat. As His mother fed the family, Jesus also learned the importance of feeding the spirit.

and Jesus increased in wisdom” and was “filled with wisdom” Of course, Jesus was taught by His parents and teachers. One of the things he must have been taught was about money. I think we all teach our children about finances. While we may struggle to simply balance our budgets, make good spending choices and learn the value of working for a living, Jesus saw lessons about gifts of God or talents, justice and mercy, and eternal perspective and rewards.

Jesus continues to learn “and increase in wisdom” throughout His childhood. He learned about obedience watching the sheep in the fields. He learned about the love and care a person has for those they serve and protect by watching the shepherds in those same fields. He learned about stubbornness from watching the strong willed goats that he later compares to the disobedient. I know this analogy gained new meaning for me when we owned some goats who refused to stay within the safety of their fences.

The child Jesus saw spiritual meaning in the olive trees, the vineyards, and the fishermen on the sea. He grew in wisdom because he looked deeper than the surface of things and saw lessons in the entire world around Him.

The next piece of the scripture is “the grace of God was upon Him” - the grace of God is defined as being divine help or strength in the bible dictionary. We know that angels ministered to him in his adulthood and protected him in his childhood. His divine grace is available to each of us as well. God strengthened Jesus the boy, so that He could accomplish the things He had to do as a man. Christ now does the same for us. He strengthens us and helps us. Sometimes we don’t recognize the help because it doesn't come in the form of angels or thunderous miracles. We know that the Mary and Joseph were selected especially for their mission of raising the Son of God. So too, our families are a precious gift to us. Our own families should be a help and strength to us. We must recognize them as the gift from God, the support system that they are given to us to be. We must be the great strength and support to our families that we are meant to be. Jesus often spoke of and gave special attention to families. He talked of the good gifts of a parent, great joyful weddings, the receiving of the prodigal son, and brothers working their father's fields. He raised the dead to show mercy to grieving families. His own cousin paved the way for Him and baptized Him. I think one of the most important things Jesus learned as a child, was love in His family.

Lastly, “Jesus grew in favor with God and with man” I see a boy who saw the teachings of His Father He saw gospel principles in all the world around Him. He was able to see how those things meant something to the people around him as well. Thus he was able to relate to and gain favor with God and man. Now we come to the question, “How does this help me?”. Although I understand the sheep and goats, and I see the value of work and money, I don't understand olive trees, or vineyards or boats full of men throwing nets into the sea. Jesus was kind enough to explain all of these things to us, and when we pray, he will teach us in our understanding. But here is the lesson that I have gained from Jesus' childhood - When we look for the spiritual lessons in the world around us, we can learn, and teach, and find ways to relate to God and the people around us the way He did.

I'd like to share a couple of examples from our family's proverbs. We talk about faith and testimonies when we plant and care for our garden. We talk about being prepared and following the prophets when we preserve the food we harvest.
We discussed the naughty goats and the safety of their fences and the calm easily led sheep at our friend's house. When we built a small garden wall, we talked about our family, naming things like kindness and service, empathy and obedience with each stone we placed. We decided that the concrete holding our family together was love.
We talked about our cell phones and the gift of the Holy Ghost. I was surprised at some of the wonderful comparisons our family came up with during that lesson.
One of the kids favorite parables involves cinnamon bites. They have come up with several parables that go along with it's preparation and baking in order to have them as the treat on family night. They have become adept at finding a spiritual lesson to go along with any treat or activity they want to do. While many of their stretching observations have amused me, all have had merit and have been a good spiritual lesson.

To me, this ability to find God in all things, to be able to bring the spirit into everything you do, to me, this is wisdom. This is what I think of when I think of the boy Jesus playing with his friends and siblings. Running and jumping and climbing trees. Watching sheep and fishermen, helping his parents, and talking to his father in Heaven. May we all see the lessons of the spirit in everything around us. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.