Introduction & Welcome
Welcome to worship today, God’s gift to us because God is good! all the time!
and all the time! God is good!
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. We too have returned to the house of God “to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God,” who has gifted us with a savior. As the festival continues, “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” It is Christmas, still.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
who sends the word with angels,
who is made flesh among all peoples,
and who breathes peace on all the earth.
In Christ, we are bold to name our sin and cry out for peace.
Silence is kept for reflection.
we confess our sin before you.
We replace compassion with competition.
We seek what is mighty while ignoring the meek.
We are quick to anger but slow to forgive.
We have not put on love in harmony with you.
Wrap us in the grace of your powerful Word.
Swaddle our hearts with your peace,
that all we do, in word or deed,
may reflect your love born among us.
I bring you good news of great joy for all people:
God has come among us
in the child born of Mary, Christ the Lord.
☩ In Christ your sins are forgiven
and you are clothed in peace.
Prayer of the Day
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.
First Reading: 1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26
Having dedicated her son Samuel to God’s service, Hannah visits him every year when she and her husband Elkanah come to the temple to offer sacrifices. God grants Hannah more children, and Samuel himself gains favor in the sight of all.
18Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the Lord repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to the Lord”; and then they would return to their home.
26Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and with the people.
Psalm: Psalm 148
The splendor of the Lord is over earth and heaven. (Ps. 148:13)
1Hallelujah! Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise God in the heights.
2Praise the Lord, all you angels;
sing praise, all you hosts of heaven.
3Praise the Lord, sun and moon;
sing praise, all you shining stars.
4Praise the Lord, heaven of heavens,
and you waters above the heavens.
5Let them praise the name of the Lord,
who commanded, and they were created,
6who made them stand fast forever and ever,
giving them a law that shall not pass away.
7Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps;
8fire and hail, snow and fog,
tempestuous wind, doing God’s will;
9mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars;
10wild beasts and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds;
11sovereigns of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the world;
12young men and maidens,
old and young together.
13Let them praise the name of the Lord,
whose name only is exalted, whose splendor is over earth and heaven.
14The Lord has raised up strength for the people and praise for all faithful servants, the children of Israel, a people who are near the Lord. Hallelujah!
Second Reading: Colossians 3:12-17
Just as newly baptized Christians in the early church were clothed with new garments upon arising from the baptismal waters, so all who have received God’s gift of life in Jesus Christ are covered with the character of Christ.
12As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Alleluia. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, and let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Alleluia. (Col. 3:15, 16)
Gospel: Luke 2:41-52
Jesus grew up in a family that went to the Passover festival each year. It was in this environment of faithful adherence to the law that Jesus grew into spiritual maturity and an understanding of his identity and mission.
41Now every year [Jesus’] parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” 49He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50But they did not understand what he said to them. 51Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
52And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.
Meditation by David O’Brien
I remember taking my children shopping when they were young. The youngest was one and the oldest was eleven. Mind you, there were four of them, all very curious and active, and I only had two hands. I think they must have delighted in getting away when I wasn’t looking for a moment. Sometimes, I’d find one of them hiding on the inside of a circular rack of clothes, giggling to themselves like they had just pulled the most enjoyable stunt ever. I guess the department store was one of the best places to play hide and seek. Of course, I didn’t think this was very funny, as they could have gotten lost, hurt or even abducted. But they didn’t understand these fears, and in a way, I’m glad they didn’t.
I guess I can understand how Mary & Joseph felt, when they realized that Jesus wasn’t with them as they traveled home from Jerusalem, though I’d imagine their fear was much more amplified than mine, as Jesus was missing for days, not just a few minutes. Keep in mind that this wasn’t a family trip to the department store, with mom and dad and a few kids. The people that Jesus traveled with included not just His earthly mother and father, but his extended family as well. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and friends. It might be a little easier to see how He could have gotten lost in the shuffle of that many people.
In any event, Jesus is missing and has been for three days. Fearing the worst, Mary & Joseph rush back to the last place they saw Him, Jerusalem. So, they search all over the town for Him and finally find Him in the Temple. Imagine their sense of relief when they find Him, safe and sound, just like when I found my children after searching for them for some time. Then the frustration sets in and they ask Him why He’d leave them like that and put such a fright into them. I remember having a similar question for my children. Jesus has a much better answer than anything my kids had. Where else would I be but in the house of my Father?
It’s important to note that this event occurs when Jesus is twelve years old. That’s the age of Bar Mitzvah, when a Jewish boy transitions into manhood. The term Bar Mitzvah means Son of the Law, or Subject to the Law. It’s at this age that a Jewish boy is expected to have studied the law and to be accountable for keeping it. He’s expected to know the difference between right and wrong. Jesus understanding of the law and of God the Father has matured and he’s enjoying being with God the Father. That’s probably as good an explanation as any as to why He stayed behind when His earthly family left for home.
After finding Jesus, the family returned home to Nazareth and Jesus was obedient to Mary and Joseph. The Gospel reading for today says that Mary “treasured all these things in her heart”. I can really relate to that. I have lots of memories of my children as they grew and learned to understand their world. In Jesus case, some of these understandings must have been much more profound, like this one, but I imagine that a great many of them were just simple, everyday memories that Mary had of her Son.
The Gospel reading for today closes with “Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor”. It could be said that this event at the Temple is the beginning of Jesus journey towards the Cross and fulfilling His mission on Earth. As He continues to grow and mature, may we also delight in our growth and maturity in faith. May God bless you and your families this Christmas season and may you delight in being with you heavenly Father.
Prayers of Intercession
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.
A brief silence.
You come to us in gatherings of your church, here in Northwest Ohio, with Daniel & Elizabeth, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor, and across the globe. Unite us with those who celebrate your birth even when they are weighed down by grief, loss, poverty, hunger, or injustice. Merciful God,
receive 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. Merciful God,
receive 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. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
You come to us through people whom the world forgets. Poor shepherds and 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, especially the souls we bring before you on our prayer list and in the privacy of our hearts. Merciful God, receive 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. Merciful God,
receive 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. Merciful God,
receive our prayer.
Rejoicing in your Word made flesh among us, we commend these and all our prayers to you, confident of your grace and love made known to us in Jesus Christ, our Savior.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Apostles Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.*
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
And now, as our Savior, Christ, continues to teach us, we boldly pray:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.
The God of hope
fill us with all joy and peace in believing,
so that we may abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit,
through Christ Jesus, the Word made flesh.
Go in peace. Rejoice in Christ our Savior.
Thanks be to God.