Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.
From Rev. Katie Nakamura Rengers
Today is the Feast Day of Saint Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father. Some think of Joseph as Jesus’ “adopted” father.
A couple of years ago, I attended the wedding of a friend’s sister. The sister (the one getting married) had been adopted as an infant; she and her adoptive family are of different ethnicities. For me, the most touching moment of the wedding was watching the father-daughter dance. It was so tender, so loving, and such a sign of how fully human beings can care for one another, when we look nothing alike. The dance felt like a culmination of twenty five years of love, acceptance, nurture and being “daughter-ed” by her adoptive family.
I remember our seminary ethics professor saying that he never advises clergy to remove language about the “nurture of children” from the Episcopal marriage service. Not if it’s a same-sex couple, and not even if it’s two 90 year olds getting married in nursing home. Because, he said, “every marriage should be open to caring for and nurturing other people,” whether they’re biological or adopted children, neighbors, godchildren, friends, or church family. Even if you find yourself living as a single person (like Jesus!) I think the same is true – look for opportunities to reach outside of yourself and nurture and mentor others… nurture them in work and and in play, in self-esteem, in arts and music and things that bring joy, and nurture them in hope.
On this St. Joseph’s day, who has “adopted” and nurtured you? Who are you (or might you be) nurturing now?