We are a community seeking to have open minds, open hearts, and open arms, building community in a fragmented world.
Gathering Music - “Once in Bethlehem” By Ruth Elaine Schram (quoting 3 familiar tunes); Jan Green
- We want to welcome everyone who is in the house today, everyone online, and everyone downstairs watching our live telecast. We are grateful for all the many ways you can join us for worship on this Lord’s Day.
- Announcements will be on one sheet at the back of the sanctuary.
- Children’s Coloring Sheet
- Stay after for a wonderful study downstairs with Nancy Humes…
- Let’s prepare our hearts and minds for worship with our Opening Scripture Reading...
Opening Scripture: Luke 2:41-52 - (NIV) The Boy Jesus at the Temple - Roger Cram
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When Jesus was twelve years old, they went to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of this. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for the boy Jesus among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard the boy Jesus was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[a] 50 But Joseph and Mary did not understand what Jesus was saying to them.
51 Then Jesus went back to Nazareth with His parents and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
Response - Weave
Weave, weave, weave us together,
Weave us together, in unity and love.
Weave, weave, weave us together,
weave us together, together in love.
*Call to Worship - Drema Herron
ONE: Jesus said,
ALL: “This is my Father’s house.”
ONE: So come into this space
ALL: just as you are.
ONE: Come into this space
ALL: speaking your truth.
ONE: Come into this space
ALL: with your authentic self.
ONE: This is God’s home.
ALL: This is our home. Let us worship God.
We Call Ourselves Disciples #357
We call ourselves disciples, as pilgrims on the way.
We seek the truth in wisdom and beauty in each day.
As women, men, and children, we serve, Christ’s path to clear.
In joyful expectation we see God’s reign draw near.
Invitation to Generosity - Drema Herron
There are many things we choose in our lives.
We choose what kind of car we want, where we want to live, the career path we prefer. We choose decaf or caffeinated, am or pm, today or tomorrow.
We choose to read the book or see the movie, we choose dogs or cats, and we choose where we want to give our time, our energy, and our money.
So today we are invited to choose this place, this community, this family of faith. Today we are invited to choose generosity, trusting that God can take whatever we give and use it for good.
Let us pray, Gracious God,
Your story is one that forever invites us to go where we feel called, and to allow this community to feel like home. So use your love and guidance to keep building your home here. With gratitude, we pray.
Children’s Moment - Roger Cram
Luke 2:41-52 (ICB)
Today in our Children’s Moment, I thought it would be a unique opportunity to talk about Jesus when He was a child.
Let’s get back to our opening scripture when Jesus was twelve years old and staying in the temple without his parents knowing where he was.
Many biblical scholars interpret this scripture to indicate that the twelve-year-old Jesus felt he was at home in the temple. He knew He was at home in “the house of His father.” He believed He belonged there among the rabbis and religious teachers – sitting, listening, questioning, and learning.
I am not a biblical scholar. I interpret this scripture to indicate Jesus was a human twelve-year-old boy who left his parents after Passover by staying in the temple for three days. He did not get permission from his parents to do this, nor did He tell them where he was.
Youth this age are usually interlaced with confusion, occasional disobedience, and a thirst for adventure and knowledge. I would like to ask a question to those of you that have had a twelve-year-old child: did Jesus’ behavior ring a bell with you? (RING BELL)
His parents searched for him for three days. Imagine yourself in this situation looking for your child missing without a word for that long. When his mother finally found Him in the temple, she scolded him by saying, ‘Son, why did you do this to us? Your father and I were very worried about you. We have been looking for you.’ Jesus did not greet his parents with an apology for his behavior, but rather with sarcasm, “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Jesus knew He was at home in “the house of His father.” But Jesus also had another home living with his parents – Mary and Joseph. Perhaps He was confused about the loyalties and responsibilities required of him in both his homes? If Jesus occasionally behaved like a twelve-year-old human, which He was, perhaps we can forgive our own twelve-year-olds for similar behavior.
Let us pray:
Dear Lord, it is refreshing and useful to be reminded of Jesus’ human side. It lets us know He understands the confusion we experienced advancing through our adolescence, for as we have learned, He went through this as well. Sometimes we forget Jesus was human too. We also thank you for letting us realize we can have many homes—a home where we live, a home in your heart, a home in our church, a home of solitude in our favorite place in nature, and many more. We thank you for your understanding and patience as we walk with You through the many stages of our life.
Pastoral Prayer - Roger Cram
We come to you today carrying gratitude and hope, dreams and fears, scars and love, and in this moment of prayer, we give it all to you. So as we remember Jesus who felt at home in the temple, we give you thanks for the places in our lives that have felt like home for us.
Thank you God for the summer camps and family vacations, for crowded tables and porch swings. Thank you for churches that become as familiar as a grandparent’s house, and for friends’ homes that have become sanctuary.
And as we remember Jesus in the temple feeling at home, we give you thanks for the places in our lives where we have felt at home as well.
We have so much to be thankful for, and yet we also know that there is still need here. So as we lift our gratitude to you for places that feel like home and for calls that change our lives, we also remember those who feel homeless. Draw near to your children who have been forced to choose a new home because they were not welcome in their own. Surround their grief and their pain with your love and give us the eyes to see and arms to welcome them. And when fear draws close, give us the courage to be who you call us to be.
God, there is so much good here, and there is so much we have yet to learn. Help us to be people that create chosen homes. Help us to be people that welcome others into those safe spaces. Help us to be people who follow our calls boldly and bravely, holding open the door for others to follow. We come to you today with prayers that are close to home.
Meditation - MaryEllen Hamlin
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross #195
When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.
Prayer & Lord’s Prayer - MaryEllen Hamlin
Words of Institution and distribution - Roger Cram
The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Prayer of Illumination - Roger Cram
Devine Lord, you perform your miracles through your people; therefore, we need to understand - we are your people. You have responded to the misery in the world by creating us. We are humbled and privileged to be your servants, and we thank you for the honor to serve mankind, through you, as disciples of your love.
As we go into the world to offer your love to others, we become your miracle of protection for the vulnerable. As we devote our capacity to comfort and nourish, we serve as your miracle of survival for those at risk. As we share our knowledge and ability to educate, we become your miracle of understanding for the disadvantaged. And as we speak for those unable to speak for themselves, we are your miracle of hope for the powerless.
You have already endowed us with the strength, wisdom, and courage to perform your miracles and have provided us with multitudes of opportunities to serve others. Therefore, our prayers are not for us, but for the vulnerable to endure until we reach them. Fill their hearts with hope, knowing we are on our way.
Scripture - 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17
Do you not know that you are God’s temple, and that God’s spirit dwells in you? For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
Sermon: Hearts are Also Homes - Roger Cram
Over the past several weeks, Nancy Humes, after our service has ended, has been instructing some of us in the history of our church. She presented many of the important rituals around which this church was founded. One of these rituals is “We are allowed to read and interpret the Bible for ourselves.”
When I was asked to substitute for Chad today, I had two choices regarding the sermon: (1) I could read a published sermon written by a minister or (2) I could write the sermon myself. I chose to write the sermon myself, but please understand, I am not preaching to you; I am not telling you what you should believe, I am telling you what I believe–as encouraged by our founding rituals–so you can get to know me better.
As the Ghost of Christmas Present said to Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve, “Come closer, so you can get to know me better man!” That is my intention with my sermon.
Home, what does it mean to you?
It certainly means more than a house, or apartment, or shelter where you live.
A home is where one’s domestic affections are centered.
A home is a welcomed place after a long journey, “We are finally home.”
It is a place of peace and relaxation after a hectic day at work, “It is so good to be home.”
Mark Twain stated, “Home is a place, if you have to go there, they have to let you in.” In this case, home is a place of rescue, safety, and welcome.
In baseball, home is a place of victory where winning points are scored.
If you’re a cowhand, you’ll find that “home on the range” is the place you want to be.
Sometimes the word home is associated with yumminess, like a home-cooked meal, or a home-made pie.
Where does the spirit of Jesus live? Where is his home? Is it in heaven? Is it in the temple as he claimed when he was 12 years old?
Everyone has heard the expression, “God is love.” If Christ is love, then is not love Christ? Are the two words not synonymous? I do not want to confuse these two words by thinking they are different. If Christ is love, then could it be that the love in our heart is Christ’s love for us to give to others?
I thought to myself, “If God is love,” then when we learn to love other people, we will be bringing to the world examples of Christ’s love.” I must remember, God performs His miracles through His people. We are His people. The Spirit of Christ must be living in our hearts giving us the power to go forth and be disciples for His love.
I believe after Jesus was crucified, he returned as a spirit living within us all. Of course, Jesus is not only inside us, but everywhere else as well. Can the Spirit of Christ possibly be living in the hearts of those who do not believe in Him? Of course; I believe this.
Prevenient grace is grace that lives in all humans before they have a relationship with Jesus Christ, while they are still searching for the truth. Prevenient grace means that Jesus’s Love is with us every day of our lives, even in the hearts of those who don’t believe. We are all born with prevenient grace.
If we think we are having a difficult time finding Christ, we should understand, He is searching for us too. He wants a loving relationship with us. He is already in our hearts; we should simply introduce ourselves. Should we not make Him feel welcome there?
Jesus living in my heart is performing my acts of love with me. When I walk with love in my heart, I am walking with Christ in my heart, as His disciple. Where did I get that idea?
Matthew 10:20: For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaks in you.
Donating our spare time to volunteer in a hospital to comfort the sick is an intentional act of love. We do not need the feeling of love tugging at our hearts to perform this task; we need the premeditated choice to do something to benefit someone else. We are acting as an disciple for Christ. Assisting a homeless drunk staggering around in a dark alley, giving him some food, and taking him to a shelter is a true act of love. Trying to comfort and show tolerance for someone insulting us is an act of love. Self-love is taking care of our physical, mental, emotional, and financial health so we will be able to help others as long as possible. That special, warm feeling we have in our hearts needs to be backed up by my loving actions.
Matthew 25:40 Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, then you did for me.
I find for me, during prayer, instead of looking up toward the heavens, that I experience a greater feeling of warmth if I look into my heart and feel His loving spirit listening to me. Do I really mean our hearts is where the spirit of Jesus lives? Do I really mean our heart is His home? Yes, I believe this.
Perhaps the creation of human beings was God’s way of spreading His love. Possibly it was His way of creating a life form that could feel, demonstrate, and spread love throughout the world. I think humans were created as a temple for love to dwell and as a means for love to be dispersed among other people.
I believe the Spirit of Jesus is living in our hearts, using our bodies and minds to speak for Him, guiding us as we serve others, as we speak and act as His disciples. Where did I get that idea?
1 Corinthians 3:16, 17: Do you not know that you are God’s temple, and that God’s spirit dwells in you? For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
The prayer of Saint Francis: Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love, ...
If we were out walking on a lovely day, perhaps on the road to Emmaus, and actually met Jesus Christ, how would we feel? There He is, standing next to us with a warm smile and loving eyes, reaching out to touch us. I can’t imagine the wonderment and awe we would experience. Well, should we not start feeling that awe and elation now because He lives within us and accompanies us every second of the day just as if He were standing beside us? Let’s embrace Him! Let’s welcome Him!
We cannot see a spirit. We cannot see the Spirit of Jesus. We can, however, see and feel the effects of Christ’s love. We can feel the rapture in our hearts. We can see the poor being cared for and the hungry fed. We can show patience, tolerance, and love for others and feel elation when doing so. We can be a disciple for Christ in all our human contacts as He walks with us throughout our life.
John 13:34-35 TLB says, “…love each other just as much as I love you. Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
Reminder: Rather than telling others you are a Christian, show them instead.
I struggled with my search for Christ until I was 70 years old. I was excited about finally finding Him. I wanted to share my revelation with others, so I enthusiastically talked with several of my adult friends who casually informed me, “Of course, Roger, that is what Christianity is based on. Everyone knows that.”
Perhaps I would have more satisfaction talking to teenagers – which I did. Their reply to me was, “Of course, Mr. Cram, that is what Christianity is. Everyone knows that.”
Perhaps an eight-year-old would share my enthusiasm more openly, so I talked to one during recess at Crestwood Primary School where I often substitute teach. Her response was, “Of course, that is what Christianity is. Everyone knows that. Why do you think the church is called the disciples of Christ Church?”
I forgot Mrs. Delaney teaches kindergarten.
OK, I accept that the great epiphany that I realized at 70 years of age has been known and understood by everyone in this church since they were eight years old. What can I say, I learned it at 70; I’m a late bloomer! Better late than never.
Closing Hymn: I Have Decided to Follow Jesus #344
I have decided to follow Jesus--
I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
no turning back, no turning back.
Benediction - Roger Cram
Dear Lord, Keep us mindful that ordinary people like us, can accomplish extraordinary things through your guidance. We are blessed to be your servants and privileged to represent your love for mankind as we courageously embrace each day as disciples of your love.
Go in peace.
Departing Music - “Angels We have Heard on High” by Franklin Ritter (based on Gloria); Jan Green