• fccsantapaula

Exploring Our Worship and Sermons

Updated: 4 days ago

Each week, we explore different holy text within the Bible as part of our weekly Sunday sermons. While we base our discussions on the teachings of the Bible, we connect them to our hectic, confusing modern day lives. Our worship services combine reflection on the scripture, singing, praise, praying and a message. Both the pastor and lay people (men, women and children) participate in and lead in worship , service and spiritual growth. Please join us Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!

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PLEASE NOTE: The State of California has opened up. We are meeting in the Sanctuary for worship. If you are vaccinated, no masks are required. If you are unvaccinated you are very welcome, but we ask that you continue to wear your mask inside. Please feel free to come out and join us. If you have questions, please contact us through our Facebook page (@SantaPaulaFCC), email us at fccsp.doc@gmail.com, or call our pastor, Rev. Jenny Crosswhite at 805-351-5501.

This page is regular updated with some of the most recent sermon topics.

SUNDAY, July 25, 2021 In-Person Service in the Sanctuary!!! Please join us there.

Scripture: Genesis 24: 10-26


It was time for Abraham to look for a wife for his son Isaac, so he sent his servant out to look for one. It was evening, and the time when respectable women went to draw water from the well. Abraham’s servant prayed and then he waited, hoping he would be successful in finding a suitable wife for Isaac.

So, what was the sign you might ask that his journey might be a success? The young woman, Rebekah, offered water not just to him, but to his camels also! The text says that she ran back to the well to draw water for all his camels. She also offered him a place to stay for the night in her father’s house.

Rebekah did not know Abraham’s servant. She did not know that her actions would lead to him asking her to come back with him and marry his master Abraham’s son, Isaac. Rebekah simply offered an abundance of hospitality. She was generous, kind, and anticipated the needs of this stranger, turned guest. How do we show hospitality to others in our personal lives and in the church? What does extravagant welcome look like?

Join us this Sunday as we explore Genesis 24:10-26 and the theme, “Watering Camels.”

SUNDAY, July 18, 2021 In-Person Service in the Sanctuary!!! Please join us there.

Scripture: Genesis 21: 8-21


Sarah and Hagar had a difficult relationship. On the one hand, Sarah had a tough life. Abraham had twice called Sarah his sister and not his wife so a ruler could claim her, she lived with decades of infertility in a culture that valued sons, she wrestled with theology that told her that her lack of a son was caused by God, and these are only some of her scars. On the other hand, Sarah was complicit in the abuse and mistreatment of Hager, who she refers to as her slave girl. Sarah gives Hagar to Abraham to produce a son and then mistreats Hagar, deals harshly with her, and ultimately leaves her and her young son Ishmael homeless in the wilderness.

You may be thinking, where is the hope in all that? What is the lesson to be learned? Honestly, there are many, but this week we will focus on two. The first is how God makes a way for Hagar when it seems there is none. God sees and hears her when she is most vulnerable, and is present with her and Ishmael in their suffering, and ultimately in their blessing. Second, Sarah was a broken person. She had been mistreated and she turned around and mistreated Hagar who had even less power than she did. I can’t excuse her behavior, but I can say that there is a lesson here about pain: hurt people hurt other people. Knowing this, how do we move toward healing so we don’t continue to hurt others?

Join us this Sunday as we explore Genesis 21:8-21and the theme, “Hurt & Hope.”

SUNDAY, July 11, 2021 In-Person Service in the Sanctuary!!! Please join us there.

Scripture: Genesis 2:15 -3:13

Sermon: Broken, but Created for Good

The story of Adam and Eve plays a central role in theological interpretations of how we are to live in the world. Church doctrines concerning sin, understandings about human relationships, and even ideas about how one gets to heaven have roots in the creation story.

The central question of human nature revolves around the role of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and what is said to have happened there. After talking with the serpent, the text says that, “when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Gen. 3:6).

To this day, wisdom and knowledge are things we pursue as human beings. We seek to understand the difference between good and evil. We try to make the right choices with our free will. Whatever way we interpret the creation story, one thing is true. Everything changed. Fear, insecurity, loneliness, isolation, mistrust, and division came into the world.

As we try to pursue happiness, vulnerability, relationship, meaning, and strive to succeed in this world, what might this story of creation have to teach us? Join us this Sunday as we explore Genesis 2:15-3:13 and the theme, “Broken, but Created for Good.”

SUNDAY, July 4, 2021 In-Person Service in the Sanctuary!!! Please join us there.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 3: 1-9

Sermon: Maintaining a Humble Confidence

"Today we celebrate our freedom and independence as well as our sovereignty in our lives. Of the great gifts Jesus has made sure we were given, free will was near the top of the list. We have been given a tremendous blessing and a gift to choose the tracks our life train runs on. With freedom comes responsibility, and we can make sure that in addition to freedom we can have access to our heavenly father to guide us in our walk each day of our lives. "

SUNDAY, June 27, 2021 In-Person Service in the Sanctuary!!! Please join us there.

Scripture: Acts 9: 39-42

Sermon: The Act of Remembering

This Sunday’s scripture reminds us that women were disciples of Jesus too. It is the story of Tabitha (also known as Dorcas), who was well known for doing good and helping the poor, and especially the widows. She used her gift of sewing to show her love and care for the widows and open an opportunity for healing for the most vulnerable in her community.

After Tabitha’s death, the widows hold the garments that she made for them and weep as they remember her love for them. Have we ever done this? Held a blanket, a shirt, or an artifact from our lived one as we weep and remember their impact on our lives? When we participate in communion, we remember that Jesus asks his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me.” How does learning the stories of Jesus’ life or Tabitha’s life inspire us to live our lives? What about other people we have loved who have passed away? What do we do in remembrance of them? Join us this Sunday as we explore Acts 9:36-42 and the theme, “The Act of Remembering.”

SUNDAY, June 20, 2021 In-Person Service in the Sanctuary!!! Please join us there.

Scripture: Judges 4: 4-14

Sermon: Encouraging Words

We all need some encouragement from time to time, and perhaps especially after this past year. Whether life has been hard for one year or for 20 years, it can be easy to lose hope that things are going to change. When we are going through the most difficult moments in our lives, sometimes it takes a little bit of outside encouragement to know that we can indeed face another day.

In our story for Sunday, it is Deborah, the only named female Judge over Israel, who encourages Barak and gives him the confidence and support he needs to rise up and lead the people forward.

Join us this Sunday as we explore Judges 4:4-14 and the theme, “Encouraging Words.” Whatever next step is that we are called to take on our life’s journey, may it be that we have people like Deborah standing beside us to encourage us, support us, and help us find hope. Likewise, may it be that we are the ones to give hope and encouragement to others when they need it the most.

SUNDAY, June 13, 2021 In-Person Service in the Sanctuary!!! Please join us there.

Scripture: John 4: 4-30, 39-42

Sermon: Invitation to Discipleship

Oops, he did it again! The disciples left Jesus to go find food, only to come back and find that he is talking to a woman, and not just any woman, a Samaritan woman. Through their conversation, she comes to believe that Jesus is the messiah, the leader, the one that they had been waiting for. This leads her to drop everything to go and tell everyone she can find the good news.

As part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), one of the key parts of our identity is discipleship and inviting others to become disciples of Jesus. The question is, what do we mean by that and how often do we invite people to join us in following Jesus?

Join us this Sunday as we explore John 4:4-30, 39-42 and the theme “Invitation to Discipleship.” Let us look at this extraordinary encounter with fresh eyes and see where God might be inviting us to grow, expand our understanding, or stretch beyond our own ideas about who is welcome in the kingdom of God.

SUNDAY, June 6, 2021 In-Person Service in the Sanctuary!!! Please join us there.

Scripture: Exodus 15: 19-21 and Isaiah 1: 13-17

Sermon: Practicing Worship

When we think about worship, we probably first think about a place we go to gather with others to demonstrate our love for God through singing songs, reading scripture, praying, and listening to a message from the preacher. What if I told you that worshiping God was more than that? Would you agree or would you find yourself questioning that statement?

What if I told you that scripture tells us that our Sunday worship gatherings are meaningless if not accompanied by acts of justice, if not actively seeking to see the image of God in those around us, or not examining our own hearts and deeds and defending the oppressed?

As we gather this week, we will look at the connection between worship and justice and ask ourselves what we might have yet to learn to worship God with our whole self and our whole life. Join us this Sunday as we explore Exodus 15:19-20 and Isaiah 1:13-17.

SUNDAY, May 30, 2021 In-Person Service in the Sanctuary!!! Please join us there.

Scripture: 1 Samuel 1: 2-28

Sermon: Prayer Ways

How often do we come to God with our deepest pain, grief, and hurt? How often do we come, voicing our suffering and pouring it all out to God, seeking direction, healing, and comfort? In our story for this week, that is exactly with Hannah does as she wrestles with her infertility and grief, societal expectations, and the mocking of her rival Peninnah.

As a last resort, after years of turmoil, she goes to the temple and prays silently in desperation. Although she is silent, the priest mistakenly thinks she is drunk because of the intensity of her actions. Instead, she is there, offering up to God the one thing she wants most in this world, her first unborn child. She promises him to God if only she might conceive.

Join us this Sunday as we explore this complicated narrative from 1 Samuel 1:1-28, see the impact her promise has on our Spiritual history, and contemplate our own prayer lives. What significance does prayer play in our lives? Do we pray when things are going well and when they are hard? Have we ever made a promise to God that was hard to keep?

SUNDAY, May 23, 2021 In-Person Service in the Sanctuary!!! Please join us there.

Scripture: Acts 2: 1-21

Sermon: Beginning Anew

This week, as we begin to move back into in person worship services, while also trying to still offer an online option, it seems appropriate that we will be celebrating Pentecost Sunday. Usually, when we talk about Pentecost, we focus on the fact that this was the day that the disciples experienced the Holy Spirit in a new way, and they did.

This year, I am struck by the fact that this was also a day that the disciples were officially beginning anew. As they gathered that day to pray, they were uncertain about what the future would hold, but filled with the Spirit of God they were ready for the future that would unfold. It was an experience that opened them up to have the boldness to stop hiding and start sharing the good news about Jesus with a diverse group of people.

As we gather this week, let us remember that we also don’t know exactly where the future will take us, but let us rest in the promise that God’s Spirit will be with us every step of the way.

Join us this week as we dive into Acts 2:1-21 and the theme, “Beginning Anew.”

SUNDAY, May 16, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: Philemon 1: 4-22

Sermon: Love is an Action Word

Our scripture for this week focuses on the relationship between Onesimus, Philemon and Paul. It is a relationship that is filled with lots of potential challenges that church tradition suggests all ultimately went well, though Paul’s letter to Philemon leaves the reader without knowing exactly how things all turned out.

What we do know, is that Paul is appealing to Philemon to change the way he sees Onesimus. To see Onesimus as equal in the family of God; To see him as a brother. This begs the question, what does it take for us to change how we see others? Can the love of God change how we see one another? Does our faith help us to see others as God sees them?

As we gather this week, we will explore the foundation of our relationships with one another, which is God’s love for us. We will look at how our understanding of God’s love impacts our relationship with one another and ultimately, the way God’s love calls us to demonstrate our love in actions.

Join us this week as we dive into Philemon 1:4-22 and the theme, “Love is an Action Word."

SUNDAY, May 9, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: Philemon 1: 4-22

Sermon: Equal in God's Sight

Our scripture for this week focuses on the relationship between Onesimus, Philemon and Paul. It is a relationship that is filled with lots of potential challenges and pitfalls, the most obvious being the fact that Onesimus was once a slave of Philemon and now Paul is sending him back not as a slave but as a brother, and appealing to Philemon to receive Onesimus as such.

The entire letter to Philemon is only one chapter. We are left not knowing exactly how Philemon responded, not knowing how Onesimus felt about it all, not knowing how it was all resolved or what kind of work changing the two men’s relationship required.

What we do know, is that Paul is appealing to Philemon to change the way he sees Onesimus. To see Onesimus as equal in the family of God; To see him as a brother. This begs the question, what does it take for us to change how we see others? Can the love of God change how we see one another? Does our faith help us to see others as God sees them? Can we move past our previous ways of seeing others and move toward a new relationship with them?

Join us this week as we dive into Philemon 1:4-22 and the theme, “Equal in God’s Sight."

SUNDAY, May 2, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: Acts 18: 1-4, 24-26 and Romans 16: 1-4

Sermon: Remaining Grounded in Transitory Times

There are a lot of times that I wish I could go back and see for myself exactly what was going on in church history, including what was happening in the early church. Acts 18 is one of those stories. I have heard many interesting reactions from people when they find out I am a pastor. Anything from puzzled head scratching to outright hurtful words. When I read stories like that of Priscilla and Aquila, Phoebe, or even Deborah in Judges 4, I am convinced anew that God did not mean for women to sit silent in church.

In fact, it is fascinating the relatively egalitarian relationship portrayed between Pricilla and Aquila. They work together as tentmakers, they teach together, they risk their lives together, and interestingly enough, it is Pricilla who is listed first when it comes to their missionary endeavors. This fact has led many to speculate that perhaps Priscilla took the lead in some of those efforts due to the fact that when they are first introduced, before their missionary efforts begin, Priscilla is listed after Aquila.

Join us this week as we dive into Acts 18:1-4, 24-26 and Romans 16:1-4 and the theme, “Remaining Grounded in Transitory Times.” We will dig into the story of Priscilla and Aquila and also examine how we remain grounded during times of transition.

SUNDAY, April 25, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: Acts 15: 1-21

Sermon: Growing Through Change

Even after Peter’s thinking has been transformed and he has testified to the council in Jerusalem about the inclusion of the Gentiles in the community of faith, the early church continues to have disagreements over what that means. For some, that means that they need to become fully Jewish in order to participate in the faith community. For others, like Peter, Paul and Barnabas, there is an understanding that God has called them as they are.

In our text for this week from Acts 15, this debate comes to a boiling point. After several heated debates, the issue finally comes before the council in Jerusalem and the apostles and elders gather to hear both sides. The Pharisees are among those making the argument that that the gentiles must be circumcised and follow the law of Moses. Peter once again recalls his vision and experience at Cornelius’ house in arguing that God has chosen to include the Gentiles and that God has given them the Holy Spirit and cleansed their hearts by faith, so a strict observance of the law is unnecessary.

Join us this week as we dive into Acts 15:1-21 and the theme, “Growing Through Change.” As we all know, change can be difficult, scary, exciting and stressful. As the early church’s understanding of how God is at work in the world changes, it leads to conflict and debate. What does this look like today? How do we navigate change?

SUNDAY, April 18, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: Acts 10

Sermon: The Expansive Kingdom: Part II

This week, as we continue to share stories of people who followed Jesus after the resurrection, we will meet Cornelius. This story, however, is about more than just Cornelius and his household coming to follow Jesus. It is also an account about how Peter, and ultimately the early church, are transformed in their thinking about the inclusion of “gentiles” in the early church.

This encounter and Peter’s transformation are not portrayed as happening by accident. Before they meet, both Cornelius and Peter have visions. It only takes Cornelius one message from God to send servants out to look for Peter. Peter, on the other hand, requires a three-times recurring dream that leaves him puzzled, and even when he first arrives at Cornelius’ house, his presence is qualified. It isn’t until after Cornelius shares his own vision from God that Peter himself finally comes to understand what God was telling him.

This week, we will dive into Acts 10, talk about the ways it changed the early church’s understanding, and discover what it means for us and the church today. Join us as we explore “The Expansive Kingdom: Part II.”

SUNDAY, April 11, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: Acts 8: 26-38

Sermon: The Expansive Kingdom

He is risen! Now what? This week we will begin a series sharing the stories of people who followed Jesus after the resurrection. Our first story is that of the Ethiopian eunuch. This story demonstrates that the Apostles are following the spirit of Jesus’ ministry in sharing the good news.

Sent by God and empowered by the Spirit, Philip encounters the Ethiopian eunuch on a dangerous wilderness road. He shares the good news about Jesus with him, and the Ethiopian eunuch, who would have traditionally been excluded from full inclusion due to his status as a eunuch, is so overjoyed by the message of Jesus that he chooses to be baptized right there by the road.

This week, we will begin to unpack Acts 8:26-38, including its significance for the early church, and for the church today. We will learn about its background and context, view artistic depictions of the encounter, and explore the theme, “The Expansive Kingdom.”

SUNDAY, April 4, 2021 On-Line EASTER SUNDAY Service

Scripture: John 20: 1-18

Sermon: Witnessing Resurrection

It is the women who witnessed to Jesus’ final breath and his body being laid in the tomb who were the first to find the empty tomb and be witnesses to the resurrection. The women who had experienced the trauma of watching all their hope die in front of their eyes, were among the first to experience hope anew.

This Sunday, after having contemplated the darkness and grief in our world and in our lives over the past week, may we dare to open ourselves to the possibility of hope and healing. As we will see, not everyone responds to the news in the same way. How will we respond to the good news?

As we read from John 20:1-18, may we reflect on what it takes for us to move toward hope, healing, and new life, and may we too be witnesses to the resurrection.

SUNDAY, March 28, 2021 On-Line PALM SUNDAY Service

Scripture: Mark 15: 25-47


This coming Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday. It’s the day we celebrate Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem and the crowds that gathered to greet him. It’s also the day we remember Jesus’ body being laid in the tomb. Our theme song for the week is “Were You There?”

As we explore Mark 15:25-47, we will focus on who was there during Jesus’ final hours as he hung on the cross and how they reacted to his death. For some, that day made no difference at all. Jesus’ death was just the death of another “criminal.” For others, that was the day they came to believe he was God’s Son.

When it comes to this part in Jesus’ life, it’s easy to forget that his friends, family and followers didn’t know this wasn’t the end. They grieved as ones who grieve the unjust death of a loved one. Their hearts were torn in two to see such a loving and wise man die such a brutal and unwarranted death. Their grief was raw and likely all-consuming. The day left them only able to see the darkness and pondering why the curtain in the temple was torn.

As we journey through our final days before Easter, let us contemplate the darkness and grief in which we find ourselves, and reflect on what it would take for us to move toward hope and new life.

SUNDAY, March 21, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: Matthew 27: 27-37

Sermon: The Good News

There are two distinct elements to this Sunday’s scripture. The first is the horrific scene of Jesus being tortured, mocked and spit upon. The second is the moment Simon of Cyrene is “compelled” to step in and carry Jesus’ cross.

The first reminds us of all that is wrong in the world: of violence done to human beings, of harmful words hurled as insults, and of profound humiliation that happens in the public square. The second calls for us to reflect on what it means to carry the cross.

For some, the scripture telling of Jesus’ final hours can be difficult to read and talk about. It can remind us of our own pain and suffering and/or the pain and suffering of others. On the other hand, this text gives us the opportunity to reflect on our actions, and the power of our words. This text can also inspire us to help others and to think more deeply about our lives.

This Sunday we will be exploring one part Jesus’ final hours on earth (Matthew 27:27-37) and the theme, “The Good News.”

SUNDAY, March 14, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: Mark 14: 10-26

Sermon: Plenty Good Room

Jesus was in the habit of sharing meals with, and giving time to, all kinds of people. Many of them were individuals or groups who had been left out for a long time. Whether the result of a physical or psychological ailment, the product of their own choices, or simply their lot in life, Jesus was in the business of making room for them at the table.

This invitation is an opportunity to sit at the table, and an invitation to transformation. It’s not just about being at the table, though that is important. It is an invitation that is meant to transform us.

The scripture for this week leaves invokes many questions. How do we make room in our hearts for Jesus? How have we betrayed him? How quick are we to make excuses and pass the blame? How well do we welcome others? What does this invitation mean to us and what does it call us to?

SUNDAY, March 7, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: Matthew 4: 5-11

Sermon: Home At Last

As we continue through the wilderness this week, we are reminded that it’s okay to ask for help when we need it. After facing his temptations, even Jesus received help from the angels who came and waited on him. Why do we think that we have to do it all on our own?

This week’s text also continues to ask us to reflect on our behavior and the temptations that we face, and it reminds us not to put God to the test by doing unnecessarily risky things. Yes, we live by grace. Yes, we are loved by God. That doesn’t me we should jump in front of a bus or drink and then drive. Maybe we will get lucky this time, maybe we will survive the risk, but Jesus reminds us this week not to test God just for the fun of it.

As we continue through Lent, we are asked to continue to prepare our hearts for what God is going to do in our lives. This includes preparing us for the ways that God can use us to bring hope to others through acts of kindness. The truth is that our actions matter. They have the power to bring life or to cause pain. May we learn more each day about what it takes to be people that help others find a home and not be people who sow seeks of chaos and division.

SUNDAY, February 28, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: Matthew 4: 1-4

Sermon: This Lonesome Valley

This week we are invited to reflect on the wilderness experiences in life and what it takes it make it through them. The opposite of a mountaintop experience, where we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real and present, the wilderness experience tempts us to believe that we have been abandoned and forgotten. Like Jesus’ time in the wilderness, we can be left physically, spiritually, and/or mentally famished.

Our song of inspiration for this week is Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley. It reminds us that no one else, not even Jesus, can go through our trials for us, but that does not mean that we are alone on the journey.

Part of the purpose of Lent is to be intentional in focusing on God. This has been traditionally done by giving up (fasting from) certain food or beverages during Lent. An alternative practice is to fast from: television, video games or game apps, screen time, social media, cell phones, or even intentionally use our lunch hour (or other designated time) to pray, read and reflect.

Whatever we choose to do, or not do, Lent is a time to build up our spiritual resources to sustain us through the present and future wilderness experiences. This Sunday we will be exploring Matthew 4:1-4 and the theme, “This Lonesome Valley.”

SUNDAY, February 21, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: Luke 1: 67-80

Sermon: Guide My Feet

“Guide our feet into the path of peace.” These words in Luke 1:79 bring comfort and challenge. Inherent in Zechariah’s words is hope for both this world and the next. It’s not enough to hope for what is to come, without also doing our part to leave this place in which we live better than we found it. The path of peace cannot just be peace for ourselves, it must include peace for those around us.

Our song of inspiration for this week is the spiritual Guide My Feet. This powerful and moving, yet simple, song is a prayer for guidance, especially in the dark and challenging times in our lives.

God, as we journey through life, as this song proclaims, we ask you to guide our feet, hold our hands, stand by us, remind us that we are your children, and search our hearts. Help us to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be and lead us in the way that brings life for ourselves and for others.

SUNDAY, February 14, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: Matthew 17: 1-9

Sermon: A Mountaintop Experience

Jesus took Peter, James and John away from everything and to the top of a mountain where they had a profound experience with God. Every time I read this scripture, it transports me back to my own “mountaintop experiences.” Some of them have literally happened on the top of mountains, others have just been profound experiences of the Divine.

Either way, they are moments that you wish you could stay in, but ultimately they all come to an end. When the disciples’ time on the mountain was over and “they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus” (Matt. 17:8). We too have to go back down the mountain and get back to the work and the difficulties that lie ahead. Somehow, though, these experiences sustain us, knowing that God goes with us along the way.

This Sunday we will be exploring Matthew 17:1-9 and the theme, “A Mountaintop Experience.”

SUNDAY, February 7, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26

Sermon: The Table

One of the cornerstones of our church is that we welcome all to the table as Christ has welcomed us. There are so many significant moments in my faith journey that centered around the “table.” Sometimes it was a physical table, other times just a metaphorical table, but the ritual of gathering together, breaking bread and sharing the cup of the new covenant has always brought me comfort and a sense of belonging.

To this day, there are different traditions that exist around how often people should take communion and who is welcome to take communion. In some traditions, communion tokens were historically required to be shown in order to prove that one was allowed to participate. In our tradition, this is not the case. We believe that it is by grace that we are welcomed to the table, and it is with grace that we welcome others to find their own wholeness at the table.

As we eat the bread and drink the cup in remembrance of Jesus, we are invited each week to recommit ourselves to following in the way of Jesus. As we wrap up our identity series this week, we will be exploring 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 and the theme, “The Table.”

SUNDAY, January 31, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: Genesis 18: 1-8

Sermon: Welcome

As followers of Jesus, we are asked to welcome and accept one another as Christ accepted us. When we look to Jesus’ example, we see that he spoke to, ate with, welcomed, and ultimately brought to a place of healing, all kinds of people that had been told they were too far from redemption. People who had suffered on the social outskirts of society, people who suffered debilitating illness, people whose pasts were seemingly questionable, and even people with different or no faith tradition.

Jesus embodied God’s welcome and grace in ways that his followers at the time, and I would even say his followers today, sometimes struggled to replicate. As we continue to study the Bible and Jesus’ life and ministry, and as we live together in community, may we practice welcoming others as they come so that they might have the chance to be transformed into the best version of themselves, and we might have that chance as well.

SUNDAY, January 24, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: John 17: 20-23

Sermon: Wholeness

Given the tenor and challenges of the past few years, wholeness and unity of any kind continue to feel illusive. Individually, the wholeness and harmony of our body, mind, and spirit have been challenged time and again. Collectively, we are still horribly fragmented and divided.

For this reason, it is vitally important that we reflect on what it means for us to be a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. What does it mean to be whole as individuals and as a community? What would it look like? What work does it take to make movement toward wholeness? Why does it matter?

As we continue our identity series this week, we will be exploring John 17:20-23 and the theme, “Wholeness.”

SUNDAY, January 17, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: Matthew 28: 16-20


A lot of things start out as movements. People are excited, engaged, active, and energized to make a change or a difference in some way. Movements are not about a specific place; they are about joining together with others around a common purpose. In the case of the church, the purpose is to continue Jesus’ work and ministry in the world.

The challenge of a movement is sustainability. How do we not become stagnant and stuck or burnt out and disillusioned? Over the next few weeks, we are going to explore together what it means to be “A movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.” If you haven’t figured it out already, this first week, we are going to focus on what it means to be part of a movement.

Movements ask us to be creative, take risks, and sometimes even invite us to change and grow. Join us virtually this Sunday, January 17th as we explore Matthew 28:16-20 and the theme, “A Movement.”

SUNDAY, January 10, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: Matthew 2: 1-12

Sermon: Trusting Our Dreams

Since we started the tradition of receiving a “star word” a couple years back, this has become one of my favorite Sundays of the year. The idea behind receiving a word is that it gives us the opportunity to focus on something specific for the new year. Last year, mine was “openness.” What a word that was for 2020!

In addition to having the opportunity to share our word from last year, or what word we received this year, we will look a little more closely at the story of the Magi who followed the star to Bethlehem. What a journey they were on. Isn’t it awesome that they knew how to discern their dreams and recognize that they needed to change course and head home by a different road? Are we open to changing direction and listening for guidance?

When we gather on Sunday morning, we will read Matthew 2:1-12 and explore the theme, “Trusting Our Dreams.”

SUNDAY, January 3, 2021 On-Line Service

Scripture: Jeremiah 17: 7-8 and Philippians 4: 8-9

Sermon: From Drought to Abundance

The beginning of a new year is often a time for reflection and for making resolutions. It’s a time when people think about the significant moments of the past year and about what they might want to do different in the coming year.

2020 was definitely one for the history books. As we close the chapter on 2020, may we remember the moments of light and blessings. The times when we experienced God’s presence. The moments of joy in the midst of great despair. The ways that people came together to help one another. The ways we connected even while far apart. It’s also a time to ask, so what does 2020 ask of me in the new year? What does it invite me to?

As we gather on Sunday morning, we will reflect on two scriptures. We will read Jeremiah 17:7-8 and Philippians 4:8-9 while exploring the theme, “From Drought to Abundance.”

SUNDAY, December 27, 2020 On-Line Service

Scripture: Psalm 33:12 and Colossians 3: 23-24

Sermon: Welcome: A New Beginning

Last week we celebrated Jesus becoming THE Light of the world and anticipated Christmas with hymns, readings and carols of Christmas. But Jesus’s light doesn’t just shine one day of the year. Even in the challenging times we are experiencing we can look to God’s light as a beacon for not just how to cope, but how to shine for others. As we welcome a New Year let us give thanks to God and "really" welcome a great New Beginning with Jesus as our Light! Hope, Peace, and Joy are reflected with our Light!

Join us this Sunday as David Hugins brings the message, exploring Psalm 33:12 and Colossians 3: 23-24 and the theme of “A New Beginning”. Pastor Jenny is taking a well-deserved week off.

SUNDAY, December 20, 2020 (Fourth Sunday in Advent! Christmas Service.)

On-Line Service Only)

Homily: Welcoming the Light

Christmas Blessing

May we, this Christmas season, be filled with peace, and the knowledge that God is always coming into the world. May we seek God, not in a long ago stable or ancient manger, but in the people we meet and the depths of our own hearts. May the blessing of Christmas make us a blessing to others. May the peace of the season infuse all that we do. May we welcome the challenge of discipleship. May we offer ourselves as God’s ministers. May we embody hope, peace, joy, and love. May we be transformed.

Join us this Sunday, December 20, at 10am, as we gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus with a special Christmas service. This is a great time to visit for the first time, or invite your friends. The service will include telling the Christmas story and singing Christmas carols.

If you are interested in joining us for virtual worship this Sunday at 10am, please email our pastor, Rev. Jenny Crosswhite, at fccsp.doc@gmail.com. You can also stay connected with us by visiting our website (www.firstchristianchurchsp.com) or calling Pastor Jenny at 805-351-5501.

SUNDAY, December 13, 2020 (Third Sunday in Advent! On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: Isaiah 9: 2-7

Sermon: From Darkness to Joy

Even though, for some, 2020 has been a time to step back, reassess, relax, and take on new activities. For so many people, this year has been a dark, heavy, and even scary time. A time where the darkness, at times, threatened to overwhelm them.

Whether that darkness was isolation, COVID, unemployment, underemployment, loss of a loved one, health challenges, loss of direction, wrestling with historic and present injustices, or feeling helpless to change their current circumstances, there are so many things that threatened to keep us chained and steal our joy.

Our scripture for this week reminds us that the light of God comes to people in the midst of their struggles and despair. In fact, in the scripture for this week, it is because people have experienced the darkness that they can fully appreciate the joy that they found in the promise that God was sending a child to bring peace, justice and righteousness to the world.

Join us this week as we read Isaiah 9: 2-7 and reflect on the theme “From Darkness to Joy.”

SUNDAY, December 6, 2020 (Second Sunday in Advent! On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: Matthew 5: 1-12, 14-16

Sermon: Light of the World

Jesus was always saying things that surprised and shocked those around him, but they were also messages that brought profound hope and peace to people in his community and beyond who had been too long left out.

From the prostitutes, tax collectors and “sinners,” to the lepers, the children, the poor, or the powerless, Jesus had a soft spot for those who were rejected, disadvantaged or suffering. Rather than meeting them with disdain, he reached out to them, shared meal with them, and helped them find healing and wholeness.

This week, we will be lighting the second advent candle, the candle of peace. In the Scriptures, Jesus talks about us being the light of the world and being peacemakers. In light of Jesus example, what does it look like for us to share our light with the world? What does the scripture say about being peacemakers?

As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth anew, let us gather to reflect on the life Jesus lead and the ways we can live the lives Jesus is calling us to live. Our scriptures for this week is Matthew 5:1-12, 14-16. Our theme is “Light of the World.”

If you are interested in joining us for virtual worship this Sunday at 10am, please email our pastor, Rev. Jenny Crosswhite, at fccsp.doc@gmail.com. You can also stay connected with us by visiting our website (www.firstchristianchurchsp.com) or calling Pastor Jenny at 805-351-5501.

SUNDAY, November 29, 2020 (First Sunday in Advent !On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: Isaiah 40: 1, 25-31 & Psalm 139: 7-12

Sermon: Internal Light

As we begin the journey to Christmas (the season of Advent), it is important to remember that this is meant to be a time of preparation. This year, our advent theme centers around bearing light. This first week of advent, we will be exploring the inner light that bring internal peace. Without internal peace, it is hard, if not impossible, to be hopeful.

It is important to remember that while Christmas is meant to be a time of celebration and joy, for many, this is a difficult time of year. Many people are carrying significant weights: grief, loss, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, financial stress, unemployment, uncertainty, aging parents, sick children, recent diagnoses, and unknown illnesses. The public tone of the season does not always resonate with people’s private experience.

Let us join together this Sunday to acknowledge the joys and the difficulties, read scripture, pray, sing, light candles, reflect, and seek to move through the hard times and toward healing. There is power in gathering, in remembering we are not alone on the journey, and in making space to experience God’s love and hope anew.

Our scriptures for this week are Isaiah 40:1, 25-31 and Psalm 139:7-12. Our theme is “Internal Light.”

SUNDAY, November 22, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: Psalm 146

Sermon: Grateful Hearts

The holidays are rapidly approaching. In a year that has been filled with so much loss, sacrifice, hardship, heartache, and stress, it is vitally important that we take a few moments each day to step back and think of things we are thankful for. It is also a time to re-focus on what it is that God desires for our world and our lives.

Our scripture for this week talks about both of these things. It reminds us that God is trustworthy, faithful, and worthy to be praised. It also talks about the ideal way that God desires for the world to be ordered and oriented.

Join us this Sunday as we explore Psalm 146 and the theme, “Grateful Hearts.”

If you are interested in joining us for virtual worship this Sunday at 10am, please email our pastor, Rev. Jenny Crosswhite, at fccsp.doc@gmail.com. You can also stay connected with us by visiting our website (www.firstchristianchurchsp.com) or calling Pastor Jenny at 805-351-5501.

SUNDAY, November 15, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: Matthew 4:23-24, 5:9 & Galatians 3:28

Sermon: Reconciliation

The U.S. presidential election which took place last week has been described as one of the most contentious and crucial in the county’s history. Many voters on both sides felt that if their candidate didn’t get elected, the country would be in grave danger. Though the voting is over, as a people we are still deeply divided.

So how do we settle our thoughts and find a way to move forward that promotes peace and harmony? Through reconciliation, which starts with God, and God has something to say about this.

The church is what God has to say. The church (that is us) is called to be a Christ-centered community of diversity. Its very life proclaims the power of God to overcome the divisions that set people against each other. In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul announced, “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28).

Christ calls us to be peacemakers who cross the borders and barriers that divide us – radical in our generosity and welcome. It is a call to see others in their full humanity, to persist in seeking their good. Followers of Jesus are present where relationships are made or broken….the church has the opportunity to offer hope, deeply rooted hope. Join us Sunday as we explore "Reconciliation".

SUNDAY, November 8, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: Joshua 24: 1-3a, 14-25

Sermon: Choosing Who To Serve

After Moses’ death, Joshua was the one who lead the Hebrew people out of the wilderness and into the promised land. In our passage for this week, Joshua asks the people to remember the ways that God has been at work throughout their history. To remember the good times or the hard times. The ways God provided and made a way when there seemed like there wasn’t one. Then, he asks them to make a choice. Who/what will they serve?

There is always a temptation to put all kinds of things before God. Whether a person, an identity, or an object, there are all kinds of things that can draw our time, energy and attention. Just like the Hebrew people, we too must reflect on how God has been at work throughout our spiritual history and in our personal lives, and make a choice. Who will we serve? Who will we put first? Who/what will be our guiding star?

For Joshua, the answer is, “as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” As we take stock of everything going on in the world around us, how will we choose to respond? Will we choose to do so through and grounded in a relationship with God?

Join us this Sunday as we explore Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 and the theme, “Choosing Who to Serve.”

SUNDAY, November 1, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: Psalm 103: 1-12

Sermon: Forgiving Ourselves

In scripture, God is constantly challenging us to walk in his example, and to do the right thing. There are times when we all fall short. Jesus was sent to cover all of our sins and, in being God made flesh, challenge us to do better for ourselves and for each other. Having our faith tested is a part of everyday life, and we can rest easy after repenting and accepting forgiveness. But the hardest part can be forgiving ourselves. How do we do as called by God: to love him above all else, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, if we do not forgive ourselves?

Join us this Sunday as we explore Psalm 103: 1-12 and the theme, “Forgiving Ourselves.” A guest speaker, Marques Guy, will be bringing us the message this week.

SUNDAY, October 25, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: 1 John 1: 5-10 and Proverbs 28: 13-14

Sermon: Awareness and Reconciliation

This week we will be looking at the relationship between sin, confession, forgiveness and reconciliation. Put another way, we will reflecting on what it means to admit that we fall short of living the lives God desires for us. We will talk about what it looks like in our tradition to confess these things to God, and we will be assured that when we do this, we are reconciled anew with God and one another.

In some traditions this is a weekly practice. In others it occurs more infrequently and informally. We will be exploring together the importance and power of admitting that we make mistakes and sometimes miss the mark and taking those things to God.

Join us this Sunday as we explore 1 John 1:5-10 and Proverbs 28:13-14 and the theme, “Awareness and Reconciliation.”

SUNDAY, October 18, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: Leviticus 19: 9-18 and Galatians 5: 13-15

Sermon: Back to the Basics

Let’s talk about neighbors. What does loving our neighbor look like? Who is our neighbor? In what ways do our actions in 2020 reflect or not reflect those described in Leviticus 9:9-18?

What would it look like if everyone lived out these values? If we made sure everyone has enough to eat, if there was no lying, no stealing, if everyone was paid their fair wage in a timely manner, if no one spoke badly behind other’s backs, if people didn’t cause others to stumble, if everyone got a truly fair day in court, or if there was no hate (nor actions to cause it)? What difference would it make if we truly loved our neighbors? No, we aren’t perfect, but there has got to be a better way than to move forward.

Also, there are a lot of calls for freedom these days. As we navigate how we live into the new future that is emerging, let us not forget the warning from Galatians 5:15, which says, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

Join us this Sunday as we explore Leviticus 19:9-18 and Galatians 5:13-15 and the theme, “Back to the Basics.”

SUNDAY, October 11, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: Philippians 4: 1-9

Sermon: Peaceful Struggle

In the letter to the Philippians, Paul is concerned about the newly formed community of faith that he left there. He expresses his deep love and concern for them. Paul also encourages them to support one another and live self-sacrificial lives in pursuit of the gospel.

In chapter 4, Paul addresses a conflict that has arisen among two of the leaders. We are not told what the conflict is, but Euodia and Syntyche are clearly in disagreement. The community of faith is encouraged to support these women for they are important and have struggled with Paul in the work of the gospel. Paul then lifts up the qualities he sees as important signs of living as people of God.

In these divided and turbulent times in which we live, where people who formerly worked together find themselves at each other’s throats, or not talking at all, let us explore together what lessons this letter has for us.

Join us this Sunday as we explore Philippians 4:1-9 and the theme, “Peaceful Struggle.”

SUNDAY, October 4, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: Psalm 23: 1-6

Sermon: Walking in the Dark

Psalm 23 is a familiar text for most of us. If you have ever attended a funeral, you have likely heard it, as it is a time-honored favorite for such occasions. This week we will dive a little deeper into this well-known Psalm.

What is it that makes it so comforting? What does it tell us about the Psalmist’s relationship with God? What does it suggest about the nature of God? In these turbulent days in which we live, let us explore together the ways that these words are hope to the living.

Join us this Sunday as we explore Psalm 23:1-6 and the theme, “Walking in the Dark.”

SUNDAY, September 27, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: Exodus 17: 1-7


The journey we are on in life isn’t so different from that of the Hebrew people traveling through the wilderness; life happens in stages. The stages of our journey may or may not include literally packing everything up and moving to the next spot, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t definitive events that mark the change from one stage to the next. These markers include the death of a loved one, a marriage, changing jobs, losing stable housing, having a child, retiring, and more.

Even when these changes or events are good, they can trigger our trauma responses. We see the same thing happening with the Hebrew people. They had experienced oppression and harsh treatment while enslaved in Egypt. When they journey out into the wilderness, they go through cycle after cycle of complaining, having God hear and provide for them, only to fall back into the old pattern of complaining all over again. In fact, our text ends with, “Is the Lord among us or not?” How do we meet the new stages of life? If we haven’t done the work to heal from our past trauma, we too can fall back into old patterns.

Join us this Sunday as we explore Exodus 17:1-7 and the theme, “From Trauma to Trusting.”

SUNDAY, September 20, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: Exodus 16: 2-15

Sermon: Here and Now

When life gets hard, or we are sad and lonely, we sometimes create in our mind a version of the past that was better than the time we are living in now. That time seems better, less complicated, and happier than the current time. It is not always the case that the past was actually better. In our text for this week, the Hebrew people find themselves wishing they were back in Egypt, as if it is better than the wilderness where they now find themselves. But was it really better? They were enslaved in a foreign land and treated harshly.

Even as the people complain in the scarcity of the wilderness and wish to be back in Egypt, God continues to hear them, to journey with them, and to provide for their needs, hoping that the people will choose to continue to follow God’s teaching. We all know that difficult times and exhaustion don’t always bring out the best in us, or those around us. So how will we cope with these times? Will we complain to anyone who will listen? Will we romanticize the past? Or will we accept the moment in which we find ourselves, find a way to be present, and allow God to meet us where we are, so we can figure out how to keep moving forward?

Join us this Sunday as we explore Exodus 16:2-15 and the theme, “Here and Now.”

SUNDAY, September 13, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: Psalms 119: 121-128, 134

Sermon: Overcoming Barriers

Last week, as we explored verses 33-40 of Psalm 119. We talked about worship and the fact that, ultimately, everyone worships something. The question is, what do we worship? Do we worship power, success, money, beauty or intellect? Or do we worship God? Psalm 119 calls us to worship and follow in God’s way and the ways that lead to justice, love, peace and compassion, and not the ways of this world.

This week, we will look a little more closely at another part of Psalm 119, specifically verses 121-128 and 134. One specific way the Psalmist reflects on living into God’s way and not the world’s way is by trying to do what is right and just. The Psalmist reflects on the ways that the experience of human oppression and injustice causes them to draw closer to God. The Psalmist asks God to preserve their life, help them keep God’s teaching, and continue to walk in God’s way, even in the face of such challenging circumstances.

As I read through this part of the psalm, I find myself wondering, what or who do we draw close to during these difficult times? In the face of the cries for justice being heard around the world, through long bouts of isolation, through our grief and struggles, and so many other trials… where do we find our center? What keeps us from finding joy in our relationship with God?

Join us this Sunday as we explore Psalm 119:121-128, 134 and the theme, “Overcoming Barriers.”

SUNDAY, September 6, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: Psalms 119: 33-40

Sermon: Finding Our Way

Through these days filled with news of COVID-19, civil unrest, political turmoil, grief and loneliness, I am reminded anew of the importance of turning to God and seeking God’s guidance for our path.

Our Psalm for this week is a good reminder that injustice and oppression are real. That there are tough times that we will face in our lives. And it is a reminder that we are to turn to God, seek God with our whole heart, and know that God will be there to comfort us, guide us, preserve our lives.

Let us seek the one whose word is a light to our path, especially during these difficult days. Join us this Sunday as we explore Psalm 119:33-40 and the theme, “Finding Our Way.”

SUNDAY, August 30, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: Ruth 4: 1-22

Sermon: Love is an Action Word

Finally, in Chapter 4, Ruth and Naomi’s hopes are fulfilled. Boaz marries Ruth to redeem the line of Elimelech and help the two women find the security and peace they have so desperately longed for. Further, Ruth becomes pregnant and has a son who (spoiler alert) goes on to become the grandfather of King David.

In the women’s suffering, struggles, and grief, the seeds are planted that will go on to change the world. Had these women given up or had Ruth sought out her own security apart from Naomi, it would have changed the course of history.

Though they would never know the full impact their lives had on the world, we do. Just as Ruth and Naomi’s striving changed the world for the better, may it be that ours does as well. Join us this Sunday as we explore Ruth 4:1-22 and the theme, “Love is an Action Word.”

SUNDAY, August 23, 2020 (On-Line Service Only)

Scripture: Ruth 3: 1-18

Sermon: On the Edge of Hope

Our scripture this week begins with Naomi telling Ruth that it is time to find a “home” for her. The word translated “home” in Hebrew refers to a place of rest, serenity and security. After all the insecurity, vulnerability, and heartache, it seems that there will, in fact, be a hopeful resolution to the women’s journey.

While the story is not yet resolved in chapter 3 of the book of Ruth, the women are left with a promise that Boaz will make sure they are not left empty. As a sign of this, he once again sends Ruth with extra grain, six measures to be exact, so that she does not go back empty-handed. It is a sign of the fullness and blessing that will come out of the women’s struggles, emptiness, and Ruth’s hard work and care for her mother-in-law.

It required risk-taking to get where they were. It required hard work. It required grieving, and passing through stages of hopelessness, but now, they are stand on the edge of hope… holding their breath to see if their efforts paid off.