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Throwing away the L Plates

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 17 January 2016

So the Kings have come and gone and the tinsel is back in the loft.

One thing that saddens me as a parent at this time of year is how little we read in the Bible of Jesus’ childhood. Even the baptism is an adult affair. Instead we are left with the absurd syrup of Once in Royal in which Christ grows ‘like us’ but unlike us he is ‘mild obedient’ and he ‘honours and obeys’. The one story we do have is of Jesus in the temple – the moment described in one commentary I read as: ‘The day Jesus went AWOL’.

The story is not once of ‘mildness’ or ‘obedience’ and it is not a bit ‘like us’. It is the first of the great moments of Jesus being subversive. It set me wondering how the priests and teachers in the temple must have felt when faced with the boy Jesus quizzing them for 3 days and ‘amazing them’ with his answers. I suspect they had rather a lot to learn from him even at 12. This kind of thing happens to parents as the tables are turned on them by the ever more able growing teenager.

Our latest experience of this has come in the last week as Will triumphantly passed his driving test. The driving teenager presents challenges, not least the desire to borrow the car. He also offers opportunities. The family WhatsApp has him asking ‘Does anyone want a lift from the station’. That’s a very welcome thing.

This change in our lives is, like that faced by the priests in the temple, a challenge to our capacity for grace. Can we, as parents, accept that the child can do as we can? Can we accept they may even be able to do it better? Are we able to learn from ‘the other’ as well as teach, demand or direct? Can we put aside our doubts or fears and be the passenger? Christ demands this of us but do we have the grace to say yes?

Andrew Caspari