Christmas Eve, December 24, 2022



Jesus’ birth

Luke In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.

Announcement to shepherds

Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night.The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.

10 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. 11 Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. 12 This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, 14 “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”

15 When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” 16 They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. 18 Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. 20 The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.

Coming of the magi

Matthew After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”

When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:

You, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
        by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah,
            because from you will come one who governs,
            who will shepherd my people Israel.

Then Herod secretly called for the magi and found out from them the time when the star had first appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you’ve found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him.” When they heard the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. 11 They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route.


Performed by Margaret Whisselle

Sunday Reflection – Reign of Christ Sunday, November 20, 2022


Jesus on the cross

Luke 23 32 They also led two other criminals to be executed with Jesus. 33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.

35 The people were standing around watching, but the leaders sneered at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he really is the Christ sent from God, the chosen one.”

36 The soldiers also mocked him. They came up to him, offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you really are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”38 Above his head was a notice of the formal charge against him. It read “This is the king of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus insulted him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

40 Responding, the other criminal spoke harshly to him, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? 41 We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.”

Performed by Margaret Whisselle

Kids Korner: Jesus, ‘King of the Judeans’ (November 20th)

Read Luke 23:33-43 with your family.

This week the entire story of Good Friday is the backdrop for the scripture. The part of the video that shows our shorter scripture verse begins at the 2 minute mark.

This is known as ‘Reign of Christ’ Sunday or in some places “Christ the King” Sunday. It is the last day in the church year before we begin again with Advent next week. This is the last time we will hear about the way the writer of the Gospel of Luke saw Jesus for two years, and will move on to the Gospel of Matthew next week. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus made a difference through his teaching and healing ministries, challenged the authorities regularly, and told those with power that they were not acting the way God wanted them to act. And they killed Jesus for his political opinion and his social justice attitudes.

Luke tells that a sign was put on the cross above Jesus’ head, that read “King of the Judeans” (the Bible translators made the mistake of thinking it read “King of the Jews”, but haven’t changed it to Judeans even though we now know better). The Romans and their friends who wanted Jesus dead were mocking him while he was dying on the cross. One of the criminals beside him mocked him too.

However, the criminal on the other side understood that Jesus was bringing everyone a better life and wasn’t the political prisoner that Jesus was accused of being. He asked Jesus for forgiveness and to be part of the next life. Most Hebrew people believed God would one day help the good people return to the Garden of Eden where they wouldn’t have any more troubles. Jesus showed that even those who society decided were ‘bad’ people had the same opportunity to be part of God’s world, and that we didn’t have to wait for it to be some wonderful other place, it could be here in this world if we all worked together to build it.

Just knowing we are in God’s love means we understand what ‘paradise’ means. We know love, and that was the basis of all Jesus’ teachings about God and about serving each other.

Sunday Reflection – November 13, 2022


Destruction of the Temple

Luke 21 Some people were talking about the temple, how it was decorated with beautiful stones and ornaments dedicated to God. Jesus said, “As for the things you are admiring, the time is coming when not even one stone will be left upon another. All will be demolished.”

They asked him, “Teacher, when will these things happen? What sign will show that these things are about to happen?”

Jesus said, “Watch out that you aren’t deceived. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I’m the one!’ and ‘It’s time!’ Don’t follow them. When you hear of wars and rebellions, don’t be alarmed. These things must happen first, but the end won’t happen immediately.”

10 Then Jesus said to them, “Nations and kingdoms will fight against each other. 11 There will be great earthquakes and wide-scale food shortages and epidemics. There will also be terrifying sights and great signs in the sky.12 But before all this occurs, they will take you into custody and harass you because of your faith. They will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.13 This will provide you with an opportunity to testify. 14 Make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance. 15 I’ll give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to counter or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed by your parents, brothers and sisters, relatives, and friends. They will execute some of you. 17 Everyone will hate you because of my name. 18 Still, not a hair on your heads will be lost. 19 By holding fast, you will gain your lives.

Performed by Margaret Whisselle

Kids Korner: Destruction of the temple (November 13th)

Read Luke 21:5-19 with your family.

Every time we read the Bible we have to remember both the people around Jesus when the stories first happen and the people with the writer who heard the stories after they were written down. Listening with our imagination in two places will show us if the message of the story was for the people with Jesus or the people decades later reading and learning about Jesus through the stories.

When the people first heard this story read from the Gospel of Luke, the Temple in Jerusalem had already been destroyed by the Roman army (it was destroyed about 40 years after Jesus’ resurrection). The Hebrew tradition was focused on the Temple because they believed God lived there, and the destruction of the temple meant the destruction of their way of understanding and caring for God. The Hebrew people were very sad.

Jesus never told his followers that he was more important than the Temple, but he did tell them God lived in all people, not just the Temple. That meant God was for all people, not only those who lived in the Holy Land.

The people who heard the story from the Gospel of Luke understood that even though the Temple was destroyed and Jesus was crucified on the cross, God was still very much alive with the people. Jesus was resurrected, but the temple was never rebuilt. God was no longer restricted to one place.

All the floods and wars and hard times were not predictions to watch for, they were normal life that people all over the world experience. Jesus was not giving us a checklist of bad things until something good happened. Jesus was telling us that even in the bad things, God is there and ready to work with us to make a new world where this things will stop happening.

Sunday Reflection – November 6, 2022


Jesus is challenged by a Sadducee

Luke 20 27 Some Sadducees, who deny that there’s a resurrection, came to Jesus and asked, 28 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies leaving a widow but no children, the brother must marry the widow and raise up children for his brother29 Now there were seven brothers. The first man married a woman and then died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third brother married her. Eventually all seven married her, and they all died without leaving any children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 In the resurrection, whose wife will she be? All seven were married to her.”

34 Jesus said to them, “People who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy to participate in that age, that is, in the age of the resurrection from the dead, won’t marry nor will they be given in marriage. 36 They can no longer die, because they are like angels and are God’s children since they share in the resurrection. 37 Even Moses demonstrated that the dead are raised—in the passage about the burning bush, when he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38 He isn’t the God of the dead but of the living. To him they are all alive.”

39 Some of the legal experts responded, “Teacher, you have answered well.” 40 No one dared to ask him anything else.

Performed by Margaret Whisselle

Kids Korner: Jesus & the Sadducee (November 6th)

Read Luke 20:27-40 with your family.

Jesus was often challenged by those who were part of the Temple. They wanted to prove that Jesus didn’t understand God or the scriptures, but Jesus rarely answered their questions directly, instead Jesus would talk about something else, showing that the person asking the question was the one who really didn’t understand God.

In this story Jesus is challenged by a Sadducee. The Sadducees were from very rich families and liked to have their say in anything that happened in the Temple or in the Hebrew justice system. They liked their power. They also did not believe in an afterlife and resurrection, something that the Pharisees and Jesus did believe in. The afterlife was hope that the Hebrew people would have a second life with God, one that was fair for everyone and no one would be too poor or too rich. The Hebrews especially liked the idea of living a life where the Roman Empire was not controlling everything. In addition, the Sadducees only believed that the first five books in the Bible were important (Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the books of Law in the Bible). The Sadducees did not think the Psalms or books of the prophets, or anything else was important. They liked to say “Moses says” about everything because Moses was the only one who mattered as far as they were concerned.

Jesus knew all of this about the Sadducees, so when one asked a question trying to get Jesus to say something against Moses, Jesus was ready. Jesus told a story of Moses as his response, so that the Sadducees would either have to agree with Jesus or say something against Moses. Jesus was smart that way.

Jesus knew that our God is the God of the living. It doesn’t matter who we are or how we live, we all have a place in God’s family in this life and in the next life. So it didn’t matter who the woman in the Sadducee’s question married, in the next life marriage wasn’t a concern for anyone.

Sunday Reflection – October 30, 2022


Visiting with Zacchaeus

Luke 19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through town. A man there named Zacchaeus, a ruler among tax collectors, was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but, being a short man, he couldn’t because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When Jesus came to that spot, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down at once. I must stay in your home today.” So Zacchaeus came down at once, happy to welcome Jesus.

Everyone who saw this grumbled, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone, I repay them four times as much.”

Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this household because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 The Human One came to seek and save the lost.”

Performed by Margaret Whisselle

Kids Korner: Jesus visits Zacchaeus (October 30th)

Read Luke 19:1-10 with your family.

The Gospel of Luke has a lot to say about money and how people with too much money usually don’t want to hear the word of God because money is meant for sharing and people with lots of money don’t share as much as they should.

Zacchaeus was a Hebrew and a tax collector, which meant not only did he have lots of money, he also worked for the Roman government who forced poor people to give up their land and often sold them into slavery. Often tax collectors forced the people to pay them more than the Roman government demanded, and they kept the extra. No one liked the tax collectors because the other Hebrews saw them as betraying their own people to the Romans.

Jesus saw through to people’s hearts, however, and even though Zacchaeus was doing a job that often hurt others, Zacchaeus was doing the job differently. He wanted to assure Jesus that he was also giving back to the poor and making extra payments to anyone he might have charged extra along the way. Jesus knew that even though Zacchaeus continued doing his job, he wasn’t exploiting people.

In our reading today, Jesus uses the story of Zacchaeus as an example of how to live the way God wants us to live, and ensure that the people are taking care of the poor and hurting. Zacchaeus was trying to make it better, just as Jesus asked all of us to help make it better.

When we talk about ‘salvation’, it is always salvation for everyone at the same time, not for one person or another. All of us are responsible for making this God’s world by focusing on the needs of the world, not ourselves.

Sunday Reflection – October 23, 2022


Finding Humility

Luke 18 Jesus told this parable to certain people who had convinced themselves that they were righteous and who looked on everyone else with disgust:10 “Two people went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself with these words, ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like everyone else—crooks, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week. I give a tenth of everything I receive.’ 13 But the tax collector stood at a distance. He wouldn’t even lift his eyes to look toward heaven. Rather, he struck his chest and said, ‘God, show mercy to me, a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this person went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.”

Performed by Margaret Whisselle