Luke 2:27 And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law,

According to tradition, the Sunday after Christmas, has a special theme, it is the one time, during the church year, that we talk about the Holy Family - and it is even more important in these days that we remember that theme and talk about God's will for families, because there are so many forces at work seeking to tear families apart. When God sent His Son to be our Savior, he was born into a family, and they took care of him, and taught him the things parents teach their children. There were no baby books, no experts telling parents what they should and shouldn't do - there was one thing - God's Word - and it hasn't changed. That's what brings the Holy Family to the Temple in Jerusalem, Mary was to complete the rite of purification, after childbirth, and Joseph after presenting Jesus before the Lord, was to offer the sacrifice for the redemption of a first-born son.

Its at times like these, that it is important that we remember that Jesus is true God and true man, important because, since Jesus experienced all of what we experience, he understands.

Hebrews 4:15 we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. It is not always easy to obey your parents, especially if you think you know better than they do, and when we are children and we face this difficulty, knowing that Jesus was tempted, and Jesus understands helps us, so that we honor our parents, and hold them in love and esteem, that we do not provoke them to anger, but that we cheerfully obey. Jesus knows the temptations children face, and not only does he understand, but he is able to help us.

Its also a good time to remember the challenge faced by Mary and Joseph, that of being parents to the Son of God. They knew he was special, but there were no special instructions given as to what they should do or not do - so they relied on the unchanging Word of God, they taught him about God, they taught him to observe the 10 commandments, they taught him about faith. It is good for us to remember, for parents these days face many challenges, and often don't know where to turn - to remember that they too can turn to Jesus, to help them to raise the children God has given them - that Jesus can help them, and that Jesus understands.

It is also a good thing for us to remember that the greatest challenge that people face in living together as families, is sin. Sin separates us from God, and separates us from others. We are all sinners, so peace in the family does not come from blaming others, but in confessing our sins, and forgiving one another. Families are the place God has given us to practice forgiveness. There is nothing more important than this, Jesus died so that all our sins might be forgiven. Jesus didn't die just for some people or some sins, but for all people and all sins - if there is nothing so big that Jesus can't forgive - than it is also important for us to remember, that we pray - forgive us, as we forgive others - so that we also forgive, as God has forgiven us. This means there is nothing anyone can do to us that is so big, that it can't be forgiven. This is God's plan for peace in the family.

There is a lot we don't know about Jesus early years. We do know he was born in Bethlehem, circumcised on the eight day, presented in the temple, that wise men came from the east to worship him, that Herod, on learning of his birth ordered all the babies in the area of Bethlehem killed, that Joseph was warned in a dream to flee by night into Egypt, and that they did not return until Herod was dead, and when thy came back, the settled in Nazareth.

What is important in all this, is perhaps best summed up in Simeon's song, Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation. That's why we look to Jesus, that's what we look for from Jesus, not just an example - but we look to him for our salvation, we believe that his blood truly does wash away all our sins, it gives us peace with God, and since we are forgiven, and forgiving, we can live at peace with one another. That's God's plan for our families.