Jesus, Teenager of God

You’ve probably now heard the story of the terrible Miner-Garrity Family.  Read all about it here.  Tutting will be involved in your response and for just a little amount of time, you’ll have the chance to feel smugly superior to these horrible people.  No one in this story comes out of it with any credit apart from the judge who could see where this was going a mile away.

Bad parents have been around for a long time.  Come to my parish and I could introduce you to some very questionable parenting. Ask most parents and they will  admit to being subpar more often than being top of the league. Nobody trains you to be a parent. No manual pops out just
after the placenta. There’s no exam.

So a good “the country is going to the dogs, will you get a load of these people” story should make us all think about how fragile this family thing is and always has been.  Jesus knew as well as anyone what these tensions were. For instance, he comes home to do some preaching and makes claims about what God is doing through him. His family ask him to come home and stop making so much crazy talk.  A prophet in his hometown and sitting at his mother’s kitchen table gets no honour.

We have a family joke in our household about teenage Jesus getting upset because of Joseph laying down the law. He shouts angrily, “You can’t tell me what to do! You’re not my real dad!” and Joseph stalks off angry and hurt knowing Jesus is right.

Mary and Joseph are in a relationship they want but with implications they didn’t ask for. They get this child who they have to care for and they get all their mistakes on the record. For instance when he is  12 they go to Jerusalem for Passover (Luke 2:41-48). They do all the things they need to do and then head off with the caravan back to their home town. After it’s been underway awhile, they realise that their son isn’t with them.  Bad parenting to the max.

So they rush back to Jerusalem and find him in the temple, sitting with his elders, teaching them like an old pro. After Mary does the “oh my god my baby/I’ll kill you if you ever do something like that again” routine she expresses how worried they both were about him.

Jesus delivers what to any parent must feel like a fatal blow: “Where else did you expect to find me except in my father’s house?”  Well, we expected you to be by our side, we expected you to be our boy. But no matter what we expect, you’re someone else’s boy in the end.

No matter how much good advice you can get, all you can really do is your best. Talk to your kids and ask how they’re feeling and take the hit when they tell you that you’re getting an F at the moment.  You have to remember that they act childishly because frankly, they are children.  My kids seem to think I’m okay and aren’t going to trade me in, though there are times when they are tempted. I need to remember that and honour it by treating them as people rather than accessories.

One of the potential blessings as minister (and being a member of a community of faith) is that your kids get to meet lots of adults of quality  and learn stuff from them and be treated well by them. My kids have learned great things from the people in their church. They’ve learned about service and tolerance and dedication. They’ve learned about justice and compassion and hard work. They’ve also learned that things don’t always go the way you planned them to. I’m grateful that they have been surrounded by lots of parents who, probably subconsciously, want to help us do our best. I hope that we’ve been returning the favour too.

So feel smug and move on. If you play your cards right, maybe your attempts at parenting won’t hit the papers too.


About newnortherner

I'm a vicar in the town of Macclesfield with a lovely wife and three kids who are a credit to me. A friend at theological college told me I was a walking theological reflection so I figured a blog was the best way to get out lots of words without tiring lots of ears. I like cycling, reading, films and just chilling out.
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2 Responses to Jesus, Teenager of God

  1. Hi Dave,

    It’s Holly, just wanted to let you know that I am reading the blog and also to say that they “you’re someone elses boy in the end” really chimed with me.
    I really enjoy being with Josh and James of a Sunday and am looking forward to seeing Ben again soon. I guess we are all just doing our best with someone elses boys, they are wonderful and we are lucky to be with them.
    I have been at school tonight talking to the teachers and felt really grateful to have those adults around our boys.
    Checking out Messy church at all saints soon in the hope of bringing something of that ilk to St Petes, really keen on making the church feel like it belongs to the whole community. I know that the film nights that Ben is on board for are great for bringing people to St Petes and making a central point for the community.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  2. Thanks Holly! They appreciate you guys too! Ben enjoys his Movies with Jim fix every now and then. You are a great asset to all the communities you belong to.

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