WORSHIP @ HOME
For the 12 Days of Christmas, we are giving our Worship Team a much-needed sabbath rest. You can do the following service on your own at home, or you can join us in our Zoom Room at https://usc.zoom.us/my/lumin on Sundays December 26 and January 2 at 10am with your church family. Church Council will take the lead in facilitating these at-home Zoom gatherings. We will gather again at St. Mark’s on Epiphany Sunday, January 9, 2022 at 10am. A blessed Christmas season to you and yours!
Sunday, December 26 + The First Sunday of Christmas
On the first Sunday of Christmas we find the boy Samuel and the boy Jesus, both in the temple, both growing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and humankind.
Gathering: The Holy Spirit calls us together as the people of God.
Shine into our hearts the light of your wisdom, O God,
and open our minds to the knowledge of your word,
that in all things we may think and act according to your good will
and may live continually in the light of your Son, Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Word: God speaks to us in scripture reading, preaching, & song.
First Reading: Samuel 2:18-20, 26
Now Samuel was serving the Lord. He was a young boy, clothed in a linen priestly vest. His mother would make a small robe for him and take it to him every year when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife: “May the Lord replace the child of this woman that you gave back to the Lord.” Then they would return home.
Meanwhile, the boy Samuel kept growing up and was more and more liked by both the Lord and the people.
Gospel Reading: Luke 2:41-52
Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. When he was 12 years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to their custom.
After the festival was over, they were returning home, but the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t know it. Supposing that he was among their band of travelers, they journeyed on for a full day while looking for him among their family and friends. When they didn’t find Jesus, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple. He was sitting among the teachers, listening to them and putting questions to them. Everyone who heard him was amazed by his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were shocked.
His mother said, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Listen! Your father and I have been worried. We’ve been looking for you!”
Jesus replied, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he said to them.
Jesus went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. His mother cherished every word in her heart. Jesus matured in wisdom and years, and in favor with God and with people.
In this story, we get a glimpse of Jesus coming into his own self. He is on his own, listening, and asking questions. And “all who heard him were amazed at his answers” (Luke 2:47). What spaces have allowed you to be who you are truly called to be? Where do you feel the freedom to come into your own being? List those places. Reflect on what makes those spaces unique.
Jesus refers to the temple as a house—God’s house. In your experience, has the church been a home for you? If so, how? If not, why not? What steps need to be taken to allow all churches to reflect the same welcome, safety, and security of a loving home?
Think twelve-year-old can’t take on corruption? Read Stephen King - the power and terrors of adolescence feature regularly in his novels. Be it “The Loser’s Club” from “It,” Abra from “Dr. Sleep,” or Jake in the Dark Tower series, King richly depicts their cosmic battleground when life and love demand a firm stance against evil, even at the risk of too-young lives. How can you connect your adolescents with the great cloud of witnesses to help cultivate such bravery? How might pointing to their young ardor inspire the weary and beaten to fight again?
Prayers of the People
Let us pray.
Joining our voices with the heavenly host and Christians throughout time and space, let us pray for the church, the world, and all in need.
You come to us in gatherings of your church across the globe. Unite us with those who celebrate your birth even when they are weighed down by grief, loss, hunger, or injustice. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.
You come to us in the diverse splendor of the universe. Grant us the humility to trust our place in the network of creation, that we live in service to you and the natural world. Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
You come to us through relationships of many kinds: families, friendships, communities, and nations. Guide us in these relationships, that we recognize the Christ child in one another and show your love to those most vulnerable. Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
You come to us through people whom the world forgets. Poor shepherds nad an imprisoned Paul announced your good news. Send your Spirit to all who are imprisoned, struggling with addiction, unwell, or in any need this day. Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
You come to us in acts of justice and forgiveness. Open our hearts to forgive one another, without permitting injustice. Supply us with the wisdom to be clothed with love, binding all things together in perfect harmony. Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
You come to us through those who have died yet live with you forever. We give thanks for Stephen, deacon and martyr, who gave his life to tell the story of your love. Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
For what else do the people of God pray this morning?
Here you may offer your own intercessions.
Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
Rejoicing in your Word made flesh among us, we commend these prayers to you, confident of your grace and love made known to us in Jesus Christ, our Savior, and we pray the prayer you taught us to pray:
who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Invitation to the Offering
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 give our tithes and our offerings now.
Your offering helps us carry out our ministries of love and justice in the world - from preparing worship services like this to preparing worship services at church. You can give your offering today online at stmarksla.org/give.
Thanksgiving for the Offering
Gracious God, your story is one that forever invites us to be our full selves, to take up space, to go where we feel called, and to allow this community to feel like home. So use these gifts to keep building your home among us. With gratitude as tall as the ceiling, we pray. Amen.
Sending: God blesses us and sends us in mission to the world.
Our Christmas season benediction comes to us from the theologian and mystic Howard Thurman. Howard Thurman was a mentor to Dr. King, and one of the great spiritual writers of the 20th century, and he wrote these words:
"When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart."