"Joseph!" cried Mary, "I can't find Jesus! Oh, where can He be?"
Everyone in the group was tired from the long journey. They were returning home from the city of Jerusalem where they had gone to celebrate the Feast of the Passover. And now they couldn't find Jesus!
"Mary, Jesus is twelve years old now, so don't worry. He'll be all right. He's probably just visiting with another group of travelers," said Joseph.
They searched for Jesus among the other people, but no one had seen Him all day! Soon, Joseph began to be worried too. So he and Mary decided to go back to the city of Jerusalem.
They searched the city for a long time before they finally found Him in the Temple.
"Joseph, there He is!" Mary's voice was full of relief. "He is sitting in the middle of that group of men. They are the elders of the Temple church!"
Joseph gave a deep sign of relief. The long hours of searching for their missing Son were over. "I am so thankful," he said. "We searched everywhere on our way back into Jerusalem, and then all this time around the city. I couldn't think where we would look next." His voice sounded shaky. He swallowed hard, and then went on. "Let us go and speak with Him. Why did He stay here in the Temple?"
Together Mary and Joseph hurried toward the group of men. They planned to take Jesus away from the group and start right away on their journey home. Mary wondered what the elders were telling her Son. He looked so young, sitting there with them.
Jesus didn't even look up as they came near. Mary said to Joseph, "He looks so interested in what the elders are saying He doesn't even see us." But as they came closer to the group she realized the truth. Jesus was not only listening to the elders but He was also talking to them and asking questions! And the elders of the Temple were listening to Him! They were interested in all He said.
Mary went up to Jesus and laid her hand gently on His shoulder. "Son, why have You done this to us? Your father and I have been so worried as we looked for You."
Jesus told Mary and Joseph that He was doing the work of His Father in Heaven. But they did not understand what He meant.
Then it was time for all of them to leave Jerusalem again. This time Jesus went with them. They returned to their home in the city of Nazareth. And for a long time, Mary thought about the words Jesus had said: "I must be doing the work of my Father."
A good way to really zero in on this week's lesson might be to help your child stage the events described in the text, using Playmobil or Fisher-Price figures, or some other small dolls. Improvise props such as a road (long strip of brown paper or cloth) and the Temple (made from a shoe box). As you plan a dialogue, help your child to think about what kind of questions and answers were exchanged between Jesus and the Temple elders.
Arrange a special time for your child to put on his presentation for other family members.