Sermons Preached at Dailly Church.

In the years that I have been minister of Dailly Parish Church I must have preached about 800 different sermons.  I thought that I would pick 9 of them for inclusion on the website. I also used to regularly write Monologues for use in worship and so I have also included one of these too.  I hope that this material might prove helpful to some people who for various reasons are unable to attend church services.  I have deliberately chosen sermons which spring from some event or events in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ.  If you find them in any way helpful then please make contact via the website and I might be able to look out some more from the archives. 

Rev. Ian McLachlan.


(Revised version of a sermon originally preached in Dailly Parish Church on 12/01/2014)

Last week we looked at the Bible passage where Jesus was presented in the Temple when he was a few days old.  Simeon recognised who he was and what he was going to do for his people.  In today’s reading we looked at another event in the early life of Jesus.  The time when  Jesus as  a boy of 12 was taken to Jerusalem with his parents to celebrate the Passover festival.

In recent weeks we have celebrated an important Christian festival.  Christmas.  And we know that it will be some months off before we celebrate our second main Christian festival – Easter.  Although we talk about Harvest Thanksgiving Festival as a festival, in reality in our faith there are two festivals – Christmas and Easter.  One dealing with the beginning of Jesus’ life – the other dealing with the end of his life and his resurrection. 

In the Jewish faith – the religion from which Christianity sprung from- there are many religious festivals for the faithful to celebrate.  In our passage this morning we are remembering a time when Jesus’ family – himself and his parents - celebrated one of them.  It was the festival of Passover.  Passover festival is the time of the year when the followers of Judaism remember the way that God delivered them from slavery in Egypt and God promised them a new place to live.

It was some time before the Israelites reached their promised land.  But as they searched for it, they knew that they were a free people.  And above all a people who were free to worship the one true God in the way that they knew that he should be worshipped. 

In the New Testament lesson we learned of how Jesus and his family went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover festival.  They fulfilled their obligations and returned home.  Jesus however got separated from his parents and it was some time later that his parents realised that Jesus was not on the return journey home with the rest of the group.

Mary and Joseph searched everywhere for him.  And finally they found him in the Temple – discussing things with the elders there.   When questioned about what he was doing he seemed surprised that his earthly parents had had to search for him.  ‘Didn’t you know that I would be about my Father’s business’ or ‘in my Father’s house.’  Depending on which translation you are using.  

Interestingly enough this is the only story in our New Testaments about the boyhood of Jesus.  We have the birth stories that we have been discussing over Christmas.  And then this story.   When next we encounter Jesus he is most likely in his thirties and is about to meet John the Baptist to begin his mission to the world.

This story of the boyhood of Jesus is a part of the Bible which is well known to us from our childhoods. And memories from childhood can be particularly strong at times.   Because it is the only story we have of Jesus growing up and so no doubt it was a story that was eagerly recounted to us at Sunday School, because after all, it centred on a young person.  It is a story that no doubt we recall but perhaps don’t think too much about.  It is a story that recounts just one incident of Jesus’ life.  But what is it there for?  And can it have within it, various meanings and explanations?  Is it perhaps one of the most relevant of all the New Testament passages for us today?

I mentioned over the Christmas period, how there are many journeys featured in that collection of stories.  The pregnancies of Elizabeth and Mary which led to the birth of two important babies.  The journey that Mary and joseph made to Bethlehem and what they found there.  The journey that the shepherds chose to take to find the new king that the angels had spoken of.  The journey that the wise men took to find where the star was pointing to.  The journey that the Holy family took to Egypt as they evaded the wrath of King Herod.

And this story too is about a journey.  The journey that the Holy family made to and from Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.  A return journey which had to be interrupted when Mary and Joseph realised that one traveller was missing.  And then there is another journey.  The journey that Mary and Joseph made as they looked all around for their missing son.  They did not return to the inn where they had maybe been staying and find him there.  Rather it is obvious from the passage that they were not sure where to look for and ultimately find the missing Jesus.  And that may surprise us.

Yes it is 12 years after the miraculous events of Jesus’ birth.  You might have thought that his parents would have remembered these days.  No doubt after their exile in Egypt, Joseph spent the next so many years working hard as a carpenter.  Mary would have spent these years in bringing up her son and in being a dutiful wife and mother.  But would she have forgotten the unusual nature of Jesus’ birth?  Would she have forgotten the future that the angel Gabriel had spoken of? 

Perhaps in the early years of Jesus, he maybe seemed to her to be no different to any other boy of his age.  And perhaps it is feasible that she and Joseph may have wondered when the great things that Jesus was going to achieve for his people were going to begin.  Or it could be that they were so preoccupied with what we would classify as ‘normal life’ that they did not reflect on the uniqueness of their son.

You might title the passage I read to you this morning as Looking for Jesus.  Because that is what a portion of that passage is all about.  Looking for someone who seemed to them to have disappeared.  And the strange thing is that is a title which could be very much given to our own times.

We hear a lot of talk these days about some people trying to find God.    There are many people today who will say something along the lines…..’We can’t see God in our society today.  We can’t find him and his influence in our society any more’.  But is that really the case?

Now it is certainly true that fifty years ago Christianity was very much more connected to the establishment and to general life than it is today.  It is true to say that generally speaking Christianity was given much more respect by the general public in years gone by than it sadly is today.  And indeed there are some people in our society today who would like to see no link between the church and state.  Who would like to take religion completely out of our public life.

Perhaps one of the reasons for that is that for too long Christians took their place in society for granted.  Feeling that Christian world view would continue to be the main one for our society.  People would say…this is a Christian country and it will always remain so.  Unfortunately when faith is taken for granted then there is always the possibility that it will be challenged by groups who are not sympathetic to it.

However we know that Christianity can still prosper at times when it cost people a huge amount to embrace it and to live it as a life style.  Now that the Christian religion is being questioned by the advocates of secularism and materialism it means that those who want the Christian faith to be strong again, must be prepared to not only to defend it, but also prepared to explain to others why they hold the views  that they do. 

There are many people today looking for Jesus….looking for God…looking for some meaning and purpose and value and quality to their lives.  But they are sometimes looking for these things in   all the wrong places.  Just like Mary and Joseph did when they looked for Jesus when he was 12.

The reality is that sadly there are so many people today who are unhappy with their materialistic lifestyle.  Who feel they need more than that.  But they don’t know what it is. They look all over but can’t see what is there in front of them.

The natural place for Jesus to be was in the Temple.  One of the most natural places for people to find God is in a church.  Is with a community of faith.  A community of believers.  Interestingly in the story of Jesus in the Temple he is debating with the elders over religious matters.  And indeed there is, I feel, nothing wrong with people within a Christian community, debating matters.  Both religious and moral matters. If there is no debate then there is an air of of stagnation.  Jesus in much of his teaching asked his listeners to listen to what he had to say then he would go on and ask them what they thought.  To encourage them to engage in discussion one with another.

After all God has given us all minds.  Minds to debate.  To reflect.  To come up with conclusions and then to act upon the decisions that we come to.

I wonder if this story can be read as a story of our time.  A story of people looking for Jesus.  And reminding people that Jesus can always be found in a house of God.  A place of worship.  We should expect the followers of Jesus to be the people in any given society who should and would know the most about him. 

And so following on from this story, we have to ask ourselves this question…..If we regularly attend a place of worship ourselves are always as welcoming as we might be to those people who are searching for Jesus today?


© Rev. Ian K McLachlan 2014